Updated 8pm with reply by activists below - Protesters who broke in to the Manoel Island beach last Saturday accessed a number of properties, including heritage buildings, and resorted to vandalism at Fort Manoel, the Midi consortium said today.
In a statement this afternoon, Midi condemned the actions which had taken place and said it would be taking the necessary steps in terms of law to safeguard its interests and those of its stakeholders.
Members of the Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent and Gżira local council in their action insisted that the public should have access to the foreshore.
But Midi described the action as unlawful.
"Such irresponsible actions have precipitated matters, with a number of individuals forcefully gaining access to a number of properties, including heritage buildings and resorting to vandalism in particular at Fort Manoel, including St Anthony’s Chapel," Midi said.
The police have been called and criminal action will be taken against offenders, the consortium said. No photos of the damage claimed has been relayed to the media.
There is no provision or obligation on individuals to provide access over their private property to the foreshore.- Midi
Midi recalled that following years of neglect, the government had called on the private sector to undertake the development of Manoel Island and the Tigné Point sites, which included a number of heritage buildings in dire need of restoration. Following seven years of negotiations, in June 2000, Midi was granted title to the sites. The deed was unanimously approved in Parliament.
"Over the last 16 years, Midi has invested in excess of €400 million on both sites and continues to meet its obligations in terms of law and in terms of the agreement with the government. With the development of Tigné Point project nearing completion, the company has recently announced the engagement of Foster+ Partners as master planners for the Manoel Island development.
"Contrary to what has been stated and reported, the law does not seek to undermine private property rights. There is no provision or obligation on individuals to provide access over their private property to the foreshore. The company deplores the actions of publicly-elected officials who instead of
seeking adequate recourse at law, resort to unlawful acts by breaking into private property, and exposing same to vandalism and damages," Midi said.
It said the irresponsible actions of the individuals involved is further evidenced by their insistence on sensationalising the matter, by refusing access through a particular route offered to them on the day of activity to avoid damage, and instead resorting to forcefully breaking through gates, fencing and doors.
ACTIVISTS ISSUE NEW WARNING
In a reaction, Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent warned that any attempt to close access would be met with actions to reopen it. The group insisted that Midi has no right to close access.
The group said its activists were very careful not to damage any gates and fences that were not blocking access and no doors were broken through.
"It seems to us quite obvious that Midi are trying to tarnish last weekend's action with lies and false accusations, as opening access to the public would not have gained them anything. We never asked for access to Fort Manoel and Midi decided to keep the Fort fully open notwithstanding activists’ requests to keep it closed," the group said.
"KEA activists were joined by dozens of people last weekend, proving that Manoel Island is a treasured area, wanted by the public."
It said it would not be bullied and would continue to safeguard spaces which should be accessible to all the public, rich and poor.