Ahead of the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament on the 10th of November, His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar announces that the former Speaker of the Parliament, Mr Melvyn Farrell, has communicated to the Government his desire to step down from the post, despite having been requested by the Chief Minister to continue in post.
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo KC, has thanked Mr Farrell for his exemplary public service in coming out of retirement in order to take up the post of Speaker.
The Chief Minister said:
“Melvyn Farrell has been an exemplary servant of the people of Gibraltar. Mr Farrell had retired as Clerk of the Parliament after a long and distinguished period of public service as a senior Civil Servant. He agreed to my request to become Speaker and has further distinguished himself in that role as he has in all others as a public servant. Despite my request for Melvyn to continue into the next Parliament, he expressed his desire to step down from the post now, something which I, of course, fully respected. He has been selfless in his dedication to Gibraltar and its people and this will no doubt be recognised by all who have had the benefit of serving with him and especially those of us who were fellow Members of the last Parliament. alongside him.”
In the circumstances, the Chief Minister has consulted the caretaker Leader of the GSD, Mr Keith Azopardi KC, on the proposed appointment of Mrs Justice Karen Ramagge Prescott to be the new Speaker of the Gibraltar Parliament. The caretaker Leader of the GSD has confirmed that the motion to be moved by the Chief Minister for the appointment of Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott as the next Speaker of the Parliament will enjoy the support of the GSD Members of Parliament.
The Chief Minister said:
“I am genuinely delighted to be able to move the Motion at the Ceremonial Opening for the appointment of Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott to be the next Speaker of the Gibraltar Parliament. I believe that Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott will hold the respect of the whole of the Parliament and will be respected beyond the walls of the Parliament building as she has been, both within and outside the jurisdiction of Gibraltar and beyond the walls of the Supreme Court. In the almost fourteen years that Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott has sat on the Supreme Court bench she has dealt with a considerable spread of matters which have impacted the community and which have demonstrated her ability to deal with complex legal and factual issues. She is therefore eminently well suited to deal with the role of Speaker in the new Parliament and I am very grateful that she has agreed to take on this prestigious and onerous role in the heart of our democracy.
“I am particularly delighted to move the Government Motion for the appointment of the first woman Speaker in a Parliament that will, for the first time include two women as Government Ministers and two women Opposition members. This will mean that for the first time in our nation’s history the total number of women in the Gibraltar Parliament moves forward considerably, although not yet in full proportionate representation of our population.”
It should be noted that Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott has given notice to the Chief Justice of her intention to retire from the bench. She will not sit to hear new matters beyond the 10th November, which is the date of the Ceremonial Opening of the Gibraltar Parliament.