Sunday, 13 July 2008

Times: Interview with John Dalli MP: Mater Dei is a €600m 'part-time' hospital
Sunday, 13th July 2008
Herman Grech

Excerpts from the Interview:

Mr Dalli clearly wants to leave his mark on his new job and says he is enjoying steering the social policy ministry. However, he is quick to point out that he is "terrified at the way Maltese society is losing its robustness, its cultural and traditional strength."

He describes recently-released statistics as "terrifying", and says he is getting all the advice he can to provide social support for "the traditional family".

In view of such alarming statistics, should Malta start discussing the introduction of divorce?

"I think a discussion on divorce should start, and it should be a serious debate, steering away from emotions. We should avoid discussing certain aspects, which should not get into the debate."

Such as the Church?

"The Church rightly has its own position. I believe religion is a personal matter and if I'm Catholic, it's up to me to analyse the Ten Commandments and the Church's project. But I shouldn't impose social systems on others. I believe it's high time to start discussion on divorce in Malta. But we have to be careful not to go to extremes since the destruction of families is not pleasant."

Is he saying that divorce brings about 'destruction'?

"If divorce is easily attainable, if couples split up after a single argument, then yes, it will destroy families. If divorce means the level of tolerance towards our partners' mistakes will go down, then the effect will be negative.

"But if divorce encourages couples to embark on the road to understanding each other and reconciling as much as possible, then yes - we should seek that path. In my opinion, if divorce offers couples the opportunity to seek other social ties where relationships are irreconcilable, especially where children are concerned, then it is a positive thing."

Considering the statistics in hand, is he willing to engage in a discussion for the introduction of divorce at once? "Yes, as Minister for Social Policy, I am willing to engage in this important topic... of course, though, something like this is subject to a Cabinet decision."

However, he was coy when asked whether divorce could be introduced during this legislature. "Don't draw me into that for the time being, but I think we should engage in some serious discussion. I have not made a formal proposal to the Prime Minister but I intend doing it."

Is the issue of divorce a priority for his ministry?

"The priority list in this ministry is long and divorce is one of the priorities, but now that the White Paper on rent reform is out, in my opinion we should tackle health next, while looking at the welfare system and social systems... including divorce."

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