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Public rejects threat to derail America’s Cup

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The threat to derail the America’s Cup has received a huge thumbs down from all sections of the community.

Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert warned last Tuesday that the showpiece sailing event would be jeopardised unless the Government reversed its decision to refuse a work permit for the Reverend Nicholas Tweed.

A new Global Research poll has found that, regardless of religious or political beliefs, age, gender, race, household income or union membership, opposition to the ultimatum is extremely strong.

In total, 86 per cent of people said they did not support the demand, with 7 per cent in support and 7 per cent undecided.

Mr Furbert had insisted he delivered his demand to Premier Michael Dunkley on behalf of his membership — but of the 12 BIU members polled by Global Research, ten said they did not support it.

The survey, commissioned by The Royal Gazette, took place between last Thursday and this Monday, following three days of protests and industrial action by supporters of Mr Tweed.

It also found that 69 per cent of people believed Mr Tweed should not be issued a work permit, compared with 26 per cent of people in favour, and 5 per cent unsure.

Among those describing themselves as AME Church members, 52 per cent believed Mr Tweed, the London-born pastor at St Paul AME Church, should be allowed to stay beyond his January 19 departure date, with 43 per cent saying he should not, and 5 per cent unsure.

The telephone poll of 400 registered voters has a margin of error of +/- 5 per cent at the 95 confidence level.

Mr Tweed’s work permit refusal has dominated the headlines over the past two weeks, with the People’s Campaign, of which he is a leading member, joining Mr Furbert and the Progressive Labour Party in a series of attacks on home affairs minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin.

Ms Gordon-Pamplin has said the application failed because of inaccuracies surrounding Mr Tweed’s name and marital status, while St Paul AME Church did not advertise the position to give a Bermudian the chance to apply.

Supporters of Mr Tweed have claimed Ms Gordon-Pamplin is politically motivated against him.

Last Tuesday, several hundred people joined a People’s Campaign march through Hamilton before Mr Furbert told the crowd about his meeting with Mr Dunkley.

Mr Furbert said unless Mr Tweed’s work permit was renewed, and the airport development project was taken off the table, he told the Premier “the America’s Cup in 2017 will be in jeopardy” and the members will not go back to work.

However, many members continued to work as normal, saying that Mr Tweed’s work permit was not a union matter, among other reasons. Later on Tuesday, Mr Tweed responded angrily when his paternal links to Bermudian pastor Kingsley Tweed were brought into question, but refused to comment when asked if he was legally adopted by him.

Numbers dropped at protests on Wednesday, with sources suggesting Mr Tweed’s support had weakened further.

On Thursday morning, between 100 and 200 BIU members held a four-hour meeting, which culminated in Mr Furbert announcing they would go back to work, and that the union needs to deal with “in-house issues”.

At that time, the president said that the America’s Cup warning remained on the table, and clarified that it had was being made by the BIU membership, not just himself. The PLP released a statement afterwards, calling for people to get behind the America’s Cup.

A breakdown of the results from Global Research shows the threat won the support of 10 per cent of blacks and no whites; 16 per cent of AME Church members and 7 per cent of other religious groups; 17 per cent of PLP supporters and no One Bermuda Alliance supporters; 8 per cent of Bermuda Public Services Union members; 3 per cent of people with a household income of less than $50,000, 8 per cent of those with income between $50,000 and $100,000, and 4 per cent of those above $100,000; 5 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women; 11 per cent of people aged between 35 and 44, but fewer in every other age group.

The most popular reasons to oppose the threat were “it is not a union matter”, which accounted for 30 per cent, and the America’s Cup will benefit the island, which represented another 36 per cent.

Another 14 per cent of people said Mr Tweed should not get preferential treatment, and 8 per cent said Mr Furbert was abusing power to get his own way.

The most popular reason to support the threat was “Government is not listening to the people”, which accounted for 47 per cent; with 29 per cent saying the America’s Cup will not benefit the average Bermudian and 24 per cent saying the funds should be spent elsewhere.