The death of Peter Isola earlier this year marked the end of a remarkable era in Gibraltar’s political development. A prominent figure in local legal and political circles for more than four decades, he was a strong proponent of the Rock’s decolonisation and with Sir Joshua Hassan in 1963 and 1964 took Gibraltar´s case to the United Nations for the first time.
A keen rugby player in his youth, Isola appeared regularly for London Irish. In later years he was known within the family firm as “the Oracle” for his encyclopaedic knowledge of legal and practical matters.
Political leaders of all persuasions paid their respects and joined mourners at the funeral service which was conducted by Bishop Caruana and was attended by the Governor Sir Francis Richards.
An old friend, Sir Bob Peliza said that “ as well as being a charming and knowledgeable person Peter was a leading politician who coincided with me in defending ‘British Gibraltar’ with passion. “Indeed he proudly displayed his patriotic sentiments with a notice in the door of his home that read ‘British to the Core’.
“His contribution to sustaining British Gibraltar in one way or another has been appreciable and deserves exalting,” Sir Bob added. “He was an exemplary family man and a quietly popular Gibraltarian who could walk with kings without losing his common touch and will so be remembered.”
Opposition Leader Joe Bossano described him as “one of Gibraltar’s great leaders” adding that it was Isola’s stand at the UN together with Sir Joshua Hassan “that in 1963 and 1964 brought me into politics”.
“He was therefore at the very start of the fight to defend Gibraltar from Spain’s attempt to obtain sovereignty over Gibraltar,” Bossano said. “Peter belonged to a generation of Gibraltarians that had experienced a UK that had shown greater commitment to its colonies than we saw from the 1980s on with the defence White Paper and the Lisbon Agreement.
“Peter was persuaded to support Lisbon after he and Sir Joshua jointly went to see the Foreign Secretary in 1980. However the 1984 development of the Brussels Agreement with the express mention of the “issues of sovereignty” was too much for him and he was totally opposed to Brussels as his last act in active politics.”
The Leader of the Liberal Party Dr Joseph Garcia said: “Peter Isola has already gone down in history as one of Gibraltar’s great political leaders. He was first elected to the Legislative Council, the forerunner of the House of Assembly, in September 1956, following his own father into politics. His elected career spanned nearly 30 years during which time was both Deputy Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition. There is no doubt that he will be best remembered for his political defence of Gibraltar’s decolonisation before the United Nations in the 1960s. On behalf of the Liberal Party, I express my most sincere condolences to his wife and family.”