Helena Dalli has a bone to pick with Bernard Grech, and she made that clear on national TV.

Speaking on TVM during the inauguration of President Myriam Spiteri Debono on Thursday, Dalli said it was not right that Joseph Muscat-era ministers had been blocked from the presidency, saying the decision had been unfair on “certain people”.

“People were accused of having blood on their hands because they were in cabinet in a particular period in Maltese history,” Dalli said, as another former minister and EU Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, looked on.

It is an open secret within political circles that Dalli, whose term in Brussels ends this year, was among the frontrunners to become Malta’s next head of state.

Helena Dalli speaking on TVM on Thursday. Video: TVM

But her candidacy effectively ran into a dead-end when the Opposition made it clear that it would not agree to nominate anyone who had served within Joseph Muscat’s cabinet.

Malta’s president must be nominated by two-thirds of Malta’s MPs, meaning Dalli – who served as Civil Liberties and Equality minister throughout Muscat’s time in government – was excluded.

Judging by Dalli’s comments on TVM, the PN decision still rankles.

When asked by show host Ruth Amaira whether it was a positive sign that the government and Opposition had agreed on Spiteri Debono’s nomination, Karmenu Vella said it was.

But before he could elaborate, Dalli made it clear she had misgivings with the process.

“A small nucleus of people within the PN excluded certain people [from being president] for very unfair reasons… there was a lot of unfair talk about many serious people who gave their lives to the country, to politics and the people,” Dalli said.

The EU Commissioner did not name any of the people damaged by the PN’s decision, though a subsequent comment she made on TV made it clear she felt snubbed.

“I was the person who first invited the Venice Commission to Malta,” Dalli said, referring to the Council of Europe body that advised the government on rule of law reforms.

 “I was drafting an equality law and I wanted them to see what we were doing. That was their first involvement in Malta. So we worked a great deal and now we are seeing the results,” Dalli said.  

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