Times of Malta, 2nd December 2008, by Fiona Galea Debono –

Soldiers are to go on guard at Fort St Elmo to make sure squatters and vandals don’t continue to have the run of the dilapidated monument.

Eviction notices were distributed to the squatters yesterday afternoon and enforcement action is scheduled for next week, marking the historical start of a long-overdue clean-up and rehabilitation of the run-down site.

Access to the fort will be controlled by the army, 24 hours a day, following an agreement on managing security reached between the Parliamentary Secretary for Government Revenues and Land Jason Azzopardi and the Armed Forces of Malta.

Apart from the crumbling state of the fort, the uncontrolled access to it was also considered to be a problem.

It would be the first time the AFM would be deployed to guard the site, Dr Azzopardi said.

Carnival organisers and related volunteers, whose names and details are on a list, would still be allowed to enter, he said.

About 15 notices were affixed on doors in areas that are not allocated to the carnival organisers.

Dr Azzopardi has been working on the situation at Fort St Elmo since early summer, but the site and its state of neglect have been in the spotlight for a while, with attention intensifying when the Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism Mario de Marco called it a “national shame”.

Ideas for the rehabilitation of the site flowed in and the government last week said it would be applying for EU funding to restore it and give it a use.

It is discussing whether the project would be eligible under the Structural Funds for tourism, or for urban regeneration.

Fort St Elmo has also found its way onto the 2008 World Monuments Watch’s List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.