Parliament on Monday heard about the tribulations of a Nationalist MP's father in Żejtun in the worst of times, as it expressed its condolences to Mario Galea following the death of his father Lorry earlier this month.
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, who is elected from Żejtun and is a long-time friend of Galea's, said that Lorry Galea, whom he also knew, was widely respected by Labourites and Nationalists in Żejtun, in the same way as Mario is. His demise left a void in his family and in Żejtun, he said.
Opposition leader Bernard Grech associated himself with Fearne's comments and said Lorry had passed on to his son Mario the values of hard work and sensitivity as well as perseverance and love for society.
Mario Galea thanked the House for its generous expressions of condolence and for those who had attended his father's funeral. Despite the differences between the two sides, the members of the House stood together as a family when the need arose, he said.
He said his father had bitter experiences of politics, even though he never offended anyone and welcomed everyone at his house, Labour or Nationalist.
He said that his father, along with other members of the family, were assaulted twice when they tried to vote in the 1987 general election, ending up injured in the process.
Then PN leader Eddie Fenech Adami had complained to the Electoral Commission.
George Abela, who at the time was a member of the commission, had turned up at the Galea family home and offered to escort them to the polling booth so they could vote. Mario Galea said his father was scared, and agreed to try to return to the polling station "as long as we are not assaulted a third time."
Abela escorted them right into the polling station and made sure they then returned safely home. It was a gesture his father always appreciated, the Nationalist MP said.
His fears had barely subsided that court cases concerning electoral corrupt practices ended up in court. On the day of the first sitting, the court building was ransacked. Galea was fearful once more, especially as a small number of people again started threatening him. The police ended up having to escort the family to court, his son recalled on Monday.
Eventually, the family was advised to briefly move elsewhere, for its own safety, and they moved to St Paul's Bay. The present-day Speaker of Parliament, Anġlu Farrugia, then a police inspector, was handed the key of the House and asked to watch over it.
"My father gave you the key to our house before he gave it to me," Mario Galea joked as he addressed Farrugia.
He said that after the bitter experiences of 1987, the general election of 1992 came up and he told his father he intended to be a PN election candidate. His reaction, borne of the bitter experiences, was: "What did we ever do to you to do such a vindictive act on us?" the Nationalist MP recalled with some humour.
He said he wanted to recall those experiences to point out that when individuals entered the political fray, they dragged their parents in too, willing or unwilling, and he, therefore, wanted to pay tribute to the parents of MPs from both sides, living or deceased.
Speaker Anġlu Farrugia associated himself with the expressions of both sides and said he struck up a friendship with Lorry Galea, a quiet man whose legacy could be seen in his family.
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