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Simons and Richards tipped for Cabinet roles

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Could be a contender: Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, is said to be in the running for community and cultural affairs (File photograph)

Bermuda Government whip Cole Simons and Junior Minister for Home Affairs Sylvan Richards have been touted as possible newcomers to the Cabinet.

A source close to the One Bermuda Alliance told this newspaper that Mr Simons could take on immigration, after intense criticism of Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, during the protests over the Pathways to Status initiative.

It would be a first ministerial portfolio for Mr Simons, who is the OBA’s whip and house leader, and has served as a backbencher or Opposition MP since being elected in 1998.

Mr Richards, who was demoted as environment minister more than two years ago and recently split from party ranks on the issue of same-sex marriage, is said to be a contender for community and cultural affairs. Michael Dunkley announced last week that a Cabinet shuffle could be announced before the reconvening of the House of Assembly on Friday, May 20.

The source also told The Royal Gazette that Senator Jeff Baron, the Junior Minister of National Security, could be lined up to run that ministry, allowing Mr Dunkley to concentrate on his duties as Premier.

Tourism could also be merged with another portfolio to create a new ministry, potentially headed up by Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Community, Culture and Sports.

“I don’t know where Michael Fahy would go but I think he will stay in the Cabinet,” the source said. “Some people say the fact Jeff [Baron] stepped down was to prepare him to come into the Cabinet to step in as national security minister.

“The Cabinet might be increased by the looks of it if Minister Fahy is not removed. If Jeff Baron comes in, it will be an addition.”

The source added that tourism could not continue as its own ministry as the day-to-day management is done by the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Political commentator Charles Jeffers, former leader of the National Liberal Party, said he believed that Mr Fahy should relinquish the immigration portfolio.

“I would say let Fahy sit in the Senate and be a junior minister of something,” he said. “The unfortunate thing about him is it is not so much what he wants to do, it’s his ... sort of way.

“He reminds me of his former counterpart in the PLP Colonel [David] Burch — they are like, ‘I’m going to do what I am going to do and I don’t care what you have to say’ and Burch would even tell you that.

“You can do the wrong thing in a way that people can accept it and you can do the right thing in such a terrible way that people will reject it.” Mr Jeffers said Mr Baron “might do well” but that backbenchers such as Glen Smith and Susan Jackson would find a ministerial role difficult to balance with their careers.

Offering his thoughts on other OBA MPs, he continued: “One of the people who has been pushing and working in the tourism industry for a long time has been Kenny Bascome.

He has to be convincing in Cabinet and be able to persuade his colleagues in Cabinet but whether he has that persuasive power I don’t know.

“Sylvan is a little short of temper but I think he has a lot of ability. Mark Pettingill I can’t see coming back into the Cabinet at this particular stage and I think that Nandi Outerbridge still has a way to go.

“They are going to be hard-pressed because who else is there?”

Mr Jeffers, who is the deputy chairman for seniors charity Age Concern, said he had faith in Jeanne Atherden and would fight for her to remain Minister for Health, Seniors and Environment.

Moving on?: backbencher Cole Simons, the One Bermuda Alliance whip, could take on immigration, a source says (File photograph)
OBA reshuffle: Senator Jeff Baron may also join the Cabinet (File photograph by Akil Simmons)