THE founder of National Day told The Olive Press Gibraltar could be in for a tough time on the day of the celebration he created.

In an exclusive interview, Sir Joe Bossano told the Olive Press how the idea of National Day was formed by accident when he was Chief Minister.

“In 1992, after the re-election of the socialist government, we decided that we would put an emphasis on going to the UN, which we wanted to do before but couldn’t get the UK to agree.” recalled Bossano.

“The year when we resumed contact with a committee of 24 also happened to be the 25th anniversary of the 1967 referendum. 

“I discussed the idea of organising a rally at the Piazza with the Self-determination for Gibraltar Group.

“People spontaneously turned up dressed in the national colours and in numbers we had not expected. 

“Therefore, given that response, it seemed to me as the minister, that we had touched a chord in the people’s perception of their own identity.

“It was too important to only do it once every 25 years, so we created it officially on September 10 and called it the National Day rally.”

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Nationhood

Bossano believes the celebration is still linked to the desire of Gibraltar to be recognised as a people in their own right by the United Nations.

Gibraltar is regularly attacked by Spanish diplomats at the UN with the Committee of 24 tending to agree with them after they put in a lot of lobbying.

“If the inhabitants of a territory could not demonstrate that they were a distinct people in their own right, they should not be on the UN list for decolonisation and not be eligible to claim as a legal right self-determination, under Article 11 of the Charter of the United Nations. 

“The fact that we are on the list is evidence that we’ve been recognised already under international law, as a separate people.”

Bossano believes Gibraltar is a nation much like the indigenous tribes of America, Catalunya or even Wales.

“There needs to be a community of identity at the tribal level although this can be a diversity of ethnic groups, but they must all identify themselves with those roots,” continued the current minister for economic development.

“That is linked territorially because we humans are like other primates, territorial animals, that need a patch of the jungle which they call their own, with boundaries which we can defend.”

“So, there is a Gibraltarian nation, because in fact, you need to distinguish between the nation and the state of the United Kingdom.”

On whether Gibraltar could ever become a state in its own right he said ‘nothing is impossible’.

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Tough times

Some commentators have said that it is the resistance to Spain that has formed that identity, but he believes it is not the only reason,

“I believe the hostility of Spain has been a factor which helps us to close ranks to protect our identity and defend our homeland,” Bossano revealed.

“But that doesn’t mean we would lose our identity if our neighbour was nicer.”

He believes that this strong sense of being Gibraltarian would help us confront the combined problems created by COVID-19 and Brexit.

“I have been around since before the Second World War and have seen the effects of the closure of the frontier and the dockyard.

“It has never weakened us and I don’t know why the present one will, although we may be in for a very tough time.

“It might take a few years but we will come out with the same strength as a people because if we didn’t, that would be evidence we are not a real people.”

From all the staff here at The Olive Press we take this opportunity to wish all Gibraltarians a very Happy National Day!

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