Dunkley expresses regret for ‘difficult day’
The Bermuda Government remains undeterred after a day of protests, Michael Dunkley pledged last night.
“If people tonight think they got the upper hand out of today, I'm sorry, it's just not like that,” the Premier told The Royal Gazette. “All Bermuda grieves tonight and we need to do better.”
Mr Dunkley, who was speaking after a heated demonstration over the controversial airport redevelopment project turned violent yesterday, added: “I have no intention of being deterred in our resolve to move forward.
“I take a great degree of dedication in paying attention and dealing with the issues of Bermuda. Tonight I am quite troubled, but I do believe that calm heads will prevail and I do believe that people who are sincere in wanting to move us forward will have an open dialogue.”
He added that although Bermuda is a shining example to the world in many areas, yesterday “was a very dark day — a blight on the history because the world is looking at us and is saying ‘wait a second, the House of Assembly couldn't meet for a second time because they couldn't get in'.
“And then we had the unfortunate incident where some of our brothers and sisters were injured during the events that took place after that.”
And he added: “While I fully support people's right to protest their disagreements about things, I stand behind law and order and allowing democracy to take place. It is our job as legislators to get into the House and have that full and frank discussion in the House of Assembly.”
Mr Dunkley also said it would be premature to talk about the next steps. Although he met with the Acting Governor and the Commissioner of Police yesterday to find out what happened and why it happened, he had not had the chance to speak to his colleagues “in too much detail”.
But he said he intended to do so over the weekend, adding that he would also be speaking with Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, to discuss what happens next.
“As far as the airport deal, when I have more to talk to the media about, I will certainly get back to the media,” he added. “But at this stage, this weekend, I want people to reflect, to stay calm — let's not jump to conclusions.”
Mr Dunkley also urged people to be more serious about having an open dialogue, but he stressed that “people need to be sincere in the motive on what they're doing”.
“I've talked to the Opposition leader over the past week about this Bill and I've doubted his sincerity on what he's done.
He said: “We have a disagreement in the direction that the Bill should go but that doesn't mean that we can't get on the floor of the House of Assembly and debate it like elected leaders who are responsible.”
He added that it is unfortunate that the Opposition “is all about pulling this Government down and stopping Bermuda from moving forward and that's not acceptable”.
Mr Dunkley also urged the public not to be concerned about their safety, and if they do have concerns to report them to police.
“People were demonstrating what they believed was a specific issue and that was the airport. We'll continue to provide information and understanding on that airport. I feel that Bermuda is still a very safe place.”
Meanwhile, Senator Lynne Woolridge also insisted the One Bermuda Alliance “will not be swayed by these politically motivated protests”. The party chairwoman accused the PLP of taking this “country to the brink of anarchy” and urged Bermudians to “understand this cannot continue”.