Problems in Marsa have been a long time coming, but a bootlegging barber and other shady shops have tipped residents over the edge, mayor Francis Debono tells Times Talk. 

"For many years we shouldered the burden along with other towns, but when certain sorts of shops began opening up, problems escalated," Mr Debono says. 

In this interview, the Marsa mayor says his fears that a residents' march would be hijacked by far-right groups proved to be correct and chastises unnamed NGOs which "first stick up [for migrants] but then don't teach them about our way of life." 

But Mr Debono also admits that the local council he leads has not done much to integrate open centre residents into the community, saying locals remain fearful of the word "integration" and that the council lacks funding it can tap. 

Mr Debono likewise acknowledges that he had never met representatives from migrant communities until President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca brokered a meeting between them last week, but insists there is nothing unusual about this because "pretty much the entire country did not acknowledge them [migrants]." 


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