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Furbert: Those who want Tweed out are nasty

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BIU President Chris Furbert (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Accusations of politically motivated obstruction over the Rev Nicholas Tweed’s work permit continued yesterday from Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union.

Mr Furbert confirmed he had been speaking of Mr Tweed on Labour Day, in which he charged that a minister tampered with the file of someone “dear to us”.

He sharply rebuked people who wanted the non-Bermudian clergyman off the island, and claimed the One Bermuda Alliance had a vested interest in blocking the permit.

Home affairs minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin should have recused herself, Mr Furbert added, as she had a conflict of interest after ceasing to attend Mr Tweed’s services two years ago at the St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mr Tweed’s three-year appointment there had been renewed in March at the AME annual conference, but his work permit, which expired on July 19, has not yet been renewed.

Responding on Tuesday, Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that an application had not been received when she was referred to Mr Tweed’s permit. The pastor continues to work with ministerial permission, and she said there had been nothing untoward in seeing his file in the absence of further information.

According to Mr Furbert, the application was sent to the Department of Immigration on the day before the work permit expired. “At some point, somebody needs to say what the internal process has been. There are some things I have been privy to that say things could have been handled a lot better.”

According to “internal rumblings”, he said the union had been aware that the OBA wished to block Mr Tweed’s permit. A prominent member of the People’s Campaign group, the pastor has been a strong critic of the administration.

Mr Furbert said it was appropriate for an AME pastor to take political stands, calling it in keeping with the church’s history. “This man has Bermuda connections; his father was run out of here 50 years ago,” Mr Furbert said, alluding to the pastor’s father, Kingsley Tweed, who campaigned against racial segregation in Bermuda.

Those who want Mr Tweed out should “kiss where the sun doesn’t shine”, Mr Furbert added.

“It had to be said — because they are nasty. You’ve never heard me make any kind of statement like that all the years I have been president. They are going too far.”

Meanwhile, supporters of the Pathways to Status immigration proposals weighed in on the issue, saying Mr Tweed, like other non-Bermudians, was entitled to the protection of law. The group said it expected the Government to deal with “any work permit renewal in a procedurally fair manner”.

“While we may disagree with Rev Tweed’s position on Pathways to Status, it is not for us to say whether he should or should not be allowed to remain on a work permit,” the statement added.

“Like the members of the People’s Campaign, we believe in a work permit regime which serves the legitimate work aspirations of Bermudians in Bermuda. Our main difference seems to be who should be considered Bermudian.

“Our position has been consistent. Anyone who is born here or who arrives here at a young age should be able to at least apply for Bermudian status at some point in their life. We believe in an immigration policy which protects people who know no other home than Bermuda. We have always stood against arbitrary cut-off dates that divide families. We will continue to advocate for immigration policy which brings Bermuda in line with global standards and its international human rights obligations.”