GIBRALTAR is mourning the loss of former minister and mayor Marie Montegriffo who passed away after a long illness last week.

The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, along with leaders of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP) she helped form in the 1970s, saluted her life achievements.

Picardo hailed her as ‘one of the team of trailblazers who transformed Gibraltar in the late eighties.’

Like many leftist politicians of her era, Montegriffo started her work in the community as part of the Transport and General Workers Union in the 1970s.

Union workers of the time fought for parity with UK workers after the frontier closed in 1969.

Following in the steps of GSLP-founder Sir Joe Bossano, she was elected into the House of Assembly in 1984 as a member of the party that is currently in government.

The keen sportswoman then became Minister for Medical Services, Health and Sport when the party swept into power in 1988.

First woman mayor

“I still remember vividly the days we worked together on the Union, in the Opposition and in the Government,” Bossano, who is still a minister, recalled.

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Marie Montegriffo, third from left, as part of Sir Joe Bossano’s 1988 government

The current Minister for Economic Development saluted ‘Marie’s hard work in those days as we turned Gibraltar around.’

After helping to modernise St Bernard’s Hospital and taking Gibraltar to its first Island Games, she became the Rock’s first woman mayor from 1988 to 1995.

“Appointing her as Gibraltar first woman Mayor was important, but she got the support of the House for the appointment not because she was a woman but because she was the right person to represent all Gibraltarians,” Bossano said.

Picardo said he ‘learnt a lot about the political history of the House from her’ and complemented ‘her personal warmth and her engaging ability to represent all Gibraltarians with a friendly smile.’

Finally, Pepe Baldachino, one of the few still living from the old guard that fought for working people’s rights throughout the 1970s, said he ‘will truly miss her’.

“She might have left us but will never be forgotten by the GSLP for her contribution to the Party and Gibraltar as a whole,” the GSLP party chairman said.

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