Italian PM spokesman sorry for complaining about missing public holiday following bridge tragedy

The Italian prime minister's spokesman has apologised for complaining about missing a public holiday in the days following the collapse of a major bridge. Rocco Casalino told journalists on 17 August that he had "a right to a couple of days off" as they tried to get hold of him for information following the tragedy. He also pleaded "don't stress me out", as their questions got too much for him following the collapse of the Morandi Bridge[1] in Genoa just a few days before.

The bridge collapse, thought to be due to a structural failure, killed 43 people. In a recording, Mr Casalino was heard to say: "Guys, one thing though: Call me once, and, if need be, I'll call you back, or you can write and if there's anything I need to tell you I will. I too have a right to a couple of days off...

"I've already missed out on Ferragosto [the 15 August public holiday]. "You're calling me like crazy - calm down, you're calling me a hundred times - call me once, then you text me and I get back to you. "That's enough!

Don't stress me out!"

Image: The aftermath of the bridge collapse in Genoa

There were calls for Mr Casalino to be sacked, with senator Andrea Marcucci saying on Twitter: "Rocco Casalino deserves a very long vacation... immediately removed from his post at Palazzo Chigi [official residence of the prime minister]". Vice president of the Democratic Party Ivan Scalfarotto wrote: "You're in a leadership position at Palazzo Chigi, there are 43 dead, the press calling you and you worry [about the holiday]." Former prime minister and current senator Matteo Renzi wrote: "The Genoa Bridge collapses and the Government spokesman thinks about the August [holiday].

But where did we end up with this Casalino? Ferragosto missed him, poor thing." On Monday Mr Casalino apologised, saying: "I feel I must say sorry for the effect produced by a private audio tape that ended up in the newspapers.

"In my words there was never the intention of offending the Genoa victims." He also accused some media of exploiting the Genoa tragedy for political gain. Just days ago, he described workers at the Treasury as "pieces of s***".

In a leaked recording of a conversation with an unidentified journalist, Mr Casalino warned that his anti-establishment 5-Star Movement would sack the officials if they failed to find the money needed for welfare spending.

Asking to be quoted as a parliamentary source, he said: "If in the end they tell us 'ah we couldn't find the money' then we'll devote the whole of 2019 to getting rid of all these pieces of s*** at the [Treasury].

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"A mega-vendetta is ready," he had said.

Before he became head of communications for the 5-Star Movement, Mr Casalino's main claim to fame was as a contestant on the Italian version of Big Brother.

References

  1. ^ collapse of the Morandi Bridge (news.sky.com)

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