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MPs riled up by December 2 protest debate

The events of December 2 formed the focus of a fiery motion to adjourn on Friday night.

Several MPs got to their feet to express shock at what transpired when police and protesters clashed outside the House of Assembly.

Opposition parliamentarians attacked Government for arrogance and weak leadership, while two Government ministers incurred the wrath of Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, during the three-hour motion that ended at 11pm.

Sylvan Richards, the Minister for Social Development and Sports, was told to leave the chamber for not apologising for comments he made while PLP MP Lawrence Scott spoke of how he was pepper-sprayed as he tried to help a senior on December 2.

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Home Affairs, was later chastised for using unparliamentary language as she described how a man greeted her on December 2 by saying “here comes that f***ing b****”.

Newly elected PLP MP Neville Tyrrell took to his feet first to tell Government the people of his Warwick constituency had “had enough”.

“This Government had a lot of good will going into the 2012 election, but over the last four years they have completely spent it with the people of constituency 26; they see a lot of arrogance, not listening and not consulting.”

Mr Tyrrell finished his speech branding events of December 2 as a “very dark day” before adding: “The PLP will not treat the people of Bermuda like that.”

Fellow Opposition Parliamentarian Derrick Burgess attacked The Royal Gazette.

He focused on a recent editorial that questioned former Premier Ewart Brown's choice of which Bermudian sportsman or woman he provided financial support to and an older sports report that suggested a youth team should not be allowed back in the country after their performance.

He added: “The editor seems to have a problem because Dr Brown has given financial contributions to black Bermudians. Some of our people go to extreme lengths to prove to their masters they are on the same team and that is how I judged this one.”

Independent MP Shawn Crockwell lamented events of December 2 and questioned why measures to secure Parliament on Friday had not been in place on December 2.

“Someone should have had the foresight to prevent what happened,” he said.

Mr Crockwell then condemned Michael Fahy, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, for comments Mr Fahy made after revisions to Bermuda's gaming were passed last November.

“That minister needs to learn humility,” Mr Crockwell said.

Lawrence Scott questioned how many promises the OBA had kept, before fellow MP Jamahl Simmons vowed that Bermudians would come first under the PLP.

He added: “Soon we will have the change we seek, for us it is an awesome responsibility to be potentially on the brink of becoming the next Government.”

Attorney-General Trevor Moniz accused the PLP of doing everything in its power to bring down the OBA and sabotaging the island's economic recovery.

“We will keep turning the other cheek, we are turning this economy around in spite of those who are trying to sabotage this country for their own political gain,” Mr Moniz said.

PLP MP Diallo Rabain urged Government to “just call an election and we will see what the people want,” while attacking its “weak leadership”.

“Leadership is being out there with the people, talking to the people and figuring out what they want, not cowering in a building and trying to figure out how we can break through the people that voted for us,” he said.

OBA MP Leah Scott called on all politicians to conduct themselves better saying: “It would be better if we worked together.”

Walton Brown, meanwhile, said that those who enter politics need to have thick skins, attacking Ms Gordon-Pamplin's language.

“We need to grow up. Being a politician, you will get verbal abuse,” he said. “I cannot accept that something that took place two months ago moved the minister to be so outraged that she couldn't control herself in Parliament.”

And he expressed his own outrage at the comments attributed to Mr Richards, saying: “I think I took a bit more offence to that idiotic comment because my mother was on the front of the gate when pepper spray was used.”

Mr Brown added that he suspects Mr Richards will be happy to apologise before the next sitting of the House because his vote will be needed by the Government.

Deputy Speaker Suzann Holshouser also called for MPs to work together to represent the people who voted them in.

“I don't honestly believe that what we heard tonight is the best we can offer,” she said.

Michael Scott, meanwhile, reiterated PLP calls for an independent investigation into the events of December 2, saying: “The day was one where men were brought to tears, seniors were injured, and it deserves an investigation that is independent. The idea is not to assign blame, but to inform.”

Craig Cannonier closed the debate saying that all parliamentarians should share blame for the high tensions on December 2, saying that everyone in the House needs to work together given the island's international competition.

“We need to get back to the decisions that would move the country forward,” he said.

Speaker of the House Randy Horton (Photo by David Skinner)

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Published February 06, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 06, 2017 at 9:16 am)

MPs riled up by December 2 protest debate

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