Below follows the retirement statement issued by Samantha Sacramento.
"I have decided not to stand for election.
In December 2011, I was quite literally catapulted into the role of cabinet minister at the age of 34. The honour and respect that I felt then is the same as that which I feel today as my tenure comes to an end twelve years later.
During these three terms in government I have held a wide variety of portfolios, including some very challenging ones.
It is no exaggeration to say how neglected departments were when we took office in 2011 and the lack of investment in their infrastructure as well as human resources and how much work had to be dedicated to radically turn them around into what they should be. Of all my departments, it is no secret that Social Services and Mount Alvernia have been my favourites, possibly because they were the ones that need, and deserved, the most attention because they dealt with the most vulnerable in our community.
Of course, to establish a Ministry for Equality and be Gibraltar’s first, and only Minister for Equality since we took office has been amazing. Equality is something that I feel very strongly about and has been a motivation. To look back at the changed landscape twelve years later is incredible. From creating awareness of LGBTQ+ rights to enshrining them in legislation in the Civil Partnership Act in 2014 and equal marriage in 2016, to promoting equality for women in the workplace and on social issues such as overhauling domestic abuse legislation with the new Act earlier this year. Protecting women’s reproductive rights and in 2021 passing legislation to enable surrogacy. We have literally changed Gibraltar’s landscape making it more accessible for people with disabilities and we are miles ahead in the support of people with disabilities than when we started. We have turned Gibraltar into a progressive country at last. Among the most memorable moments was when, in only my second day in office, I stopped the construction at what is now the Hillsides residential facility for people with dementia. When I arrived, to much fanfare, at the construction site I was so horrified to see that it was not fit for purpose for human habitation, let alone people with dementia, that right there and then, to everyone’s shock, I stopped the works. I immediately put together a team led by a specialist in dementia design and they produced what we have today, of which I am very proud.
It has at times been lonely to be the only woman in the cabinet, never has it been clearer to me that different people bring different points of view especially on certain subjects. It took me a long time to convince my colleagues that the tax payer should not foot the bill for the Miss Gibraltar pageant, but I got there in the end. It is not right that there has only been one woman at our decision making table for twelve years and I sincerely hope that this will increase and that there will be greater diversity in a way that reflects our Gibraltarian community better.
There have been many memorable moments throughout this time and while there have been many special opportunities that I would not have had were I not a Minister or a Member of Parliament such as laying the wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, meeting Queen Camilla at Buckingham Palace at her first official function or being the Head of Delegation for Gibraltar Parliament at the CPA, being part of the Special Olympics movement, or indeed being the first woman in the history of Gibraltar to act for the Chief Minister, however, what matters to me most is the personal interaction with the person who genuinely needs help.
I am a natural trouble shooter and have loved every challenge that has been presented. But nothing that anyone had ever done could be compared to what faced the world during the Covid-19 pandemic. My experience of having a broad range of portfolios prepared me well to be the Minister for Civil Contingencies at that extremely difficult time, it was my responsibility to manage the teams leadings on Covid and I have never worked so hard always motivated by keeping safe everyone in Gibraltar. In the middle of pandemic I was thrown into being the Minister for Health at a time when the hospital was most stretched. Alongside trying to support the hospital I immediately commissioned a National Mental Health Strategy and as soon as we had stabilised the vaccination programme I set to work on the GHA’s reset, restart and recover programme and restructured the GHA and made the legislative change to restructure the GHA Board.
The reality of Covid is that we had to stop work on everything to turn all our efforts to keep Gibraltar safe and then to manage us out as best we could on the other side. This has taken the better part of two years, which means that in essence we were left with a year to complete the four year manifesto. This has meant that the intense pace of work that was required during covid had to continue when we were on the other side of the pandemic as we were left with a year to undertake work on a manifesto programmed for a four year term. Working at such an intense pace for a sustained period of time takes its toll and I came to the decision not to stand again for election about a year ago.
Everything that I do, I do with passion and conviction. I absolutely love what I do, and I am grateful of the opportunity of having made a difference, but I feel that after so long it is time to step aside and focus on other pursuits. I was born in the same year as the GSLP was founded and the party and its fundamental principles run through my veins, I will continue to be active in the GSLP in this election and beyond.
I firmly believe that the GSLP Liberal alliance led by Fabian, Joseph and of the founder of the party Sir Joe, represent the only option in this general election to keep Gibraltar safe and get things done for our people.
I has been my privilege and pleasure to have served the people of Gibraltar, everything that I have done and continue to do is to make a difference to the lives of the individual citizens from our small nation for the better, because for me, that is all that is has been about.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me."