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Youth retrace footsteps of ‘1967 Referendum’ generation

Unite Union Press Call at the JMH(Photo John Bugeja) 23.03.17 Gibraltar Tony Woodhouse, a member of the Unite executive council in the UK, campaign relating to Ian McClusky. In pix Michael Netto

Yesterday saw the start of the repainting of Devil’s Gap Road, commonly known as “Referendum Steps” by volunteers from the Gibraltar Youth Service. This forms part of the Government’s build up to the 50th Anniversary of the Referendum in 1967.
Visiting the area yesterday at the start of a week-long project was the Acting Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, Heritage and Education Minister Dr John Cortes and Youth and Culture Minister Steven Linares. They spoke to the youngsters who were busy –re-painting the steps the way it would have looked 50 years ago when it was first painted and reinforced the significance of the project.
The steps have been repainted on two previous occasions.
The overall Referendum 50 project is spearheaded by Dr Garcia who spoke of how Referendum steps” symbolised the enthusiasm of the people of Gibraltar during the 1967 Referendum campaign where people spontaneously painted their neighbourhoods in red, white and blue, where they put up bunting, where Union Jacks were draped from balconies and windows, and there is nothing more symbolic of the whole referendum than this area.”
In the past the painting has been carried out by the residents of the area but in this instance the Government felt it was important that the link between “our youth and previous generations who did so much for us was reinforced, so the Youth Service took the task on as part of their community involvement initiatives” added Dr Garcia.
“Young people must understand the significance of that referendum. Their nationality would not be what it is today if not for that Referendum and it is important to pass it on to young people to understand this, “ emphasised Minister for Youth Steven Linares.
As Heritage Minister, Dr John Cortes, said his involvement was through heritage because the steps is part of our heritage.
“Heritage is now defined as over 50 years so this will now become officially heritage,” he said.
“The referendum is crucial in Gibraltar’s heritage and this is part of it,” he said and needs to be maintained.
Youth worker Caroline Dickson told the Chronicle that as from Monday a group of volunteers from the Youth Service would return to start painting the steps from the top and work their way down.
Yesterday there were 16 youngsters involved in the initial stages of the project but it is estimate that over 30 will be involved throughout the next week. They have all volunteered to help aged 12 to 18.
Over the last few weeks the Youth Service has held sessions to talk about the importance of the steps and the Referendum itself.
It is expected the project will be completed by the end of next week.

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