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Dunkley attributes discord to election cycle

Facing challenges: Michael Dunkley says improved communication has been an issue for the OBA (File photograph)

Michael Dunkley has acknowledged that Bermuda’s “temperature is a bit higher than I would like it to be”, but attributes much of the island’s political discord to electoral fever.

“Political tension in a community is always based on where you are in the electoral cycle,” the Premier told The Royal Gazette, likening it to “the third quarter of a football game”.

“My job as Premier is to make sure that in spite of it all, that we continue to move forward.

“Right now we have to keep moving; there are a lot of people struggling, and we have to deal with those challenges.”

Mr Dunkley declined to comment on whether the One Bermuda Alliance had moved ahead with hiring a new political consultant, saying it was an internal issue for the party.

However, he said improved communication had been “a challenge” for the OBA while the island was “rebounding from the most difficult period in the last 60 years”.

“Communication is key. We need to do a better job and we will do a better job.”

As for the Pathways to Status immigration initiative that prompted the largest demonstrations of recent years, Mr Dunkley said the bipartisan working group was already engaged in discussions for a reform, and meeting “a couple of times a week”.

“I won’t comment on it while the working group is doing its work,” he added. “I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to influence their work.”

The first stage of reformed immigration legislation is to come before MPs when Parliament reconvenes this month.

Marc Bean, the Opposition leader, has already stated that the Progressive Labour Party would block a phased implementation of the reforms, which offer permanent residency and status to long-term residents. Asked if he anticipated further showdowns over the legislation, Mr Dunkley said: “I always expect Parliament to have a robust debate, but if we are going to progress as a people, we need to be tolerant and respectful.”