Moviment Graffitti claims deckchair operators brought men to Comino to sabotage protest

The NGO says a dinghy owned by construction tycoon Joseph Portelli, who is a business partner of one of the deckchair operators at Blue Lagoon, left Gozo with 30 men on board to take up space on Comino 

Photo inset, provided by Moviment Graffitti, shows a bin being used as a temporary drinks storage
Photo inset, provided by Moviment Graffitti, shows a bin being used as a temporary drinks storage

Moviment Graffitti alleged that deckchair operators purposely brought friends of their own to take up space at Blue Lagoon before the NGO's scheduled public protest in the area. 

In a Facebook post, the NGO said that a dinghy owned by construction tycoon Joseph Portelli "quietly left Żewwieqa in Gozo with 30 men on board", with the intention of having them sit on deckchairs before activists can come to remove them. 

"Joseph Portelli is the business partner of Daniel Refalo, one of the two deckchair operators at the Blue Lagoon," Moviment Graffitti pointed out. 

These men arrived on Comino and started to occupy the space where the protest was going to be held. However, police ordered them to move away.

"Some of them remained at Blue Lagoon and tried to disrupt the protest by playing load music during [the activists'] speeches. One of them even physically assaulted one of the activists," the NGO said. 

Moviment Graffitti added that the deckchair operators were seen offering free food and drink to anyone who wanted to use a deckchair.

Indeed, a photo published by Moviment Graffitti shows a garbage bin being used as a drinks storage by the operators.

The NGO suggested that the men who were brought down to Comino were workers under Joseph Portelli.

"Those who know this country's history knows that Maltese speculators, from Ċaqnu to Silvio Debono from dB Group, traditionally use their own workers - Maltese and foreign - to intimidate activists. But bullies don't frighten us. The fight continues."

Last month, activists and members of Moviment Graffitti launched an early morning direct action on Comino, protesting the private concessions blocking access to the public coastline. Activists removed the laid-out deckchairs and folded them neatly against a retaining wall. 

The NGO carried out a similar exercise last Saturday, this time inviting the public to participate.