Not the most flattering photograph of João Galamba, but one used today by SIC television news: Image: Andre Kosters
Not the most flattering photograph of João Galamba, but one used with increasing frequency these days: Image: Andre Kosters

New government casualty in ongoing TAP furore

Infrastructures minister João Galamba sacks deputy

With headlines starting the day claiming the prime minister vows to ‘run again’ if President Marcelo dissolves parliament, a new casualty has fallen from the PS absolute majority government.

This time it is the (little publicly known) deputy of infrastructures minister João Galamba, Frederico Pinheiro

Mr Galamba sacked Pinheiro, apparently on Wednesday, for “behaviour incompatible with his duties and responsibilities”.

This behaviour is being interpreted as Pinheiro having coordinated the ‘secret meeting’ in January between the government and TAP CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener, designed to ‘prepare’ the latter for the first ‘parliamentary grilling’ on the niceties of the golden handshake scandal – which essentially is behind everything that has been ‘going pearshaped’ between the government and TAP ever since.

But Frederico Pinheiro only coordinated the meeting because Mr Galamba authorised him to.

At least, this is what leaked Whatsapp messages seem to show (and that is another story: PS Socialists have vowed to pursue to the ultimate whoever leaked those messages: not because they are fraudulent in any way, but because they should have been kept from the public: they show politicians have not been telling the truth).

Thus opposition parties are howling “scapegoat”, and a lot more in between, saying the situation in the PS executive has hit rock bottom.

CHEGA leader André Ventura has said it is João Galamba who should be losing his job.

Iniciativa Liberal’s leader Rui Rocha has said this is another situation in which the PS government has shown itself “incapable of assuming responsibility at relevant levels, and thus always finds a scapegoat to crucify”.

Rui Rocha explained: “In this situation we are talking about someone who asked authorisation to minister Galamba for the CEO of TAP to attend a meeting, and the authorisation was given by minister Galamba (…) We have various ministers in this process who have already lied to the Portuguese people, to the commission of inquiry, and one who has still not said a word, who is António Costa…”

Leader writer Armando Esteves-Pereira began the day gunning for João Galamba, suggesting the multimillion euro indemnity which taxpayers will undoubtedly end up having to pay TAP’s CEO for unfair dismissal should be paid personally by João Galamba, and finance minister Fernando Medina – who it appears dispensed with Ms Ourmières-Widener’s services on live television, and only later asked for legal justification – as this would create a precedent “and avoid governments continuing to play with our money“.

But as pundits being quizzed by news anchors this afternoon have stressed, it is still unclear if Pinheiro was sacked for coordinating the meeting (he was authorised to coordinate), or if it was something else that caused his dismissal.

The Whatsapp messages were leaked yesterday; Pinheiro was sacked on Wednesday. Thus, there may be ‘something else’ (which hasn’t yet been leaked…)

This story will keep running.

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