Adrian Delia has denied assembling supporters wearing his branded shirts and said their presence at last Monday’s PN rally was genuine love for the party and not a show of force.

He was replying to questions after party leader Bernard Grech on Thursday dubbed Delia’s actions “unacceptable”.

When I arrived I found a group of people sporting polo shirts

“I actually didn’t turn up with supporters,” Delia said.

“I had, earlier during the day, posted and encouraged people to attend the event. When I arrived I found a group of people sporting polo shirts which had been printed for the team helping me in my electoral efforts.”

Delia's Independence rally 'team'

On Monday, the former PN leader posted photos to Facebook showing himself surrounded with 27 supporters, all wearing identical polo shirts with the words ‘Team Adrian Delia’ printed on them.

A caption saying ‘My team at today’s Independence event’ accompanied the photos.

“I’m not sure at all as to what kind of show of force this could be interpreted as,” Delia said.

“We all attended the event organised by the party itself. Hopefully, in the future, more MPs and even new candidates would solicit people to attend to ascertain party events are held successfully.”

The photos were taken on the Granaries where PN supporters gathered on Monday for a rally and speech by Grech.

Grech: 'Everyone needs to work together'

Times of Malta later asked the PN leader whether he had spoken to Delia to see what message he was trying to convey.

Absolutely untrue that anyone accosted anyone

Grech said Delia’s actions where “unacceptable” as the party had a duty to present a united front.

“Everyone needs to work together so we can send a clear message that as a party we are there to act in the interests of all Maltese and Gozitans,” he said.

Asked whether it might be a ploy to undermine him, Grech said he was not interested in interpreting Delia’s reasons or intentions.

“What interests me is that he, along with all candidates and MPs, treat the electorate with respect,” he said.

Delia said he could not understand how Nationalist supporters wearing the party logo and attending a party event could be spinned into a controversy.

“I honestly cannot fathom how attending a party event where the leader is giving an annual independence speech can ever be deemed to be undermining him,” he said.

“Logic dictates that undermining would imply efforts to boycott events or disrupt them, not to actually encourage people to attend.”

Delia also denied reports that some of his supporters accosted an elderly woman who objected to their presence.

“It is absolutely untrue that anyone accosted anyone,” he said.

“This was not a hostile group but a young, middle-aged, elderly male and female group of Nationalist supporters who have attended the independence festivities all their lives.”

Delia said nobody from the party contacted him about the pictures and polo shirts and that this issue was not important right now.

“Our country requires serious direction to exit the grey list at the earliest possible date and a strong opposition clearly defining its vision, enabling it to be seen as an alternative government,” he said.

“That is my focus now on a district level and anyone attempting to divert attention to shirts worn at a party event is certainly not contributing towards the country’s best interests.”

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