MP suggests PNP settled J’cans on gully banks, in riverbeds, landfills Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

A war of words has erupted between the country’s two main political parties over where and how the most vulnerable Jamaicans live, and who is responsible for their predicament.

The latest salvo was fired on Tuesday by Member of Parliament (MP) for St Thomas Eastern, Dr Michelle Charles.

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) member and first-term MP, who was making her contribution to the State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives, suggested that the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) had settled people on gully banks, in river beds, and on landfills.

She said in this regard, the governing JLP was different from the PNP.

“Running a country is extremely challenging but we don’t run it the same,” said Charles, a dentist.

“We (the JLP) are not the same [as the PNP]. We are not the same. This government is building a new St Thomas; this government is building a new Jamaica,” Charles added.

She said: “This government is building houses for our citizens and not on a gully bank, not in riverbeds and not in landfills.”

“This Andrew Holness-led government cares for our people. This government is celebrating economic growth and stability; this government is filled with new ideas and new technology,” she boasted.

Her comments followed what has been described as inflammatory statements made on Sunday by her colleague MP, Juliet Holness, who represents St Andrew East Rural and is also the wife of Prime Minister Holness.

Holness, who was addressing the JLP’s Norbrook divisional meeting at Constant Spring Primary School in St Andrew, said, “Everywhere in my constituency that is unsafe to live, Comrades (PNP supporters) live there. Yuh hear what mi seh? Everywhere in my constituency that it is not safe to live, Comrades live there.”

She acknowledged that she was addressing a topic that was uncomfortable but stressed that “anywhere where river going to wash away [people], Comrades live there; anywhere that is a garbage dump, Comrades live there and is not Labour party put them there”.

The deputy speaker of the House told Labourites that “…the places they (PNP) put people to live they would never live for a minute. They would never want to visit and walk through”.

She has since been widely criticised on social media and elsewhere for the controversial statements. The PNP has also responded to the comments, describing them as reckless, partisan and demeaning to the people who are unfortunate enough to live in such circumstances.

PNP General Secretary Dr Dayton Campbell has described the comments as offensive and repugnant while arguing that many Jamaicans have settled in flood-prone areas out of desperation.

“The persons, who, through no fault of their own some of the time, reside in these locations are not solely supporters of either political party. There are persons who reside in vulnerable areas that are supporters of the PNP, some are supporters of the JLP, and some are supporters of no party. And for one to ascribe political affiliation to that just speaks to how that individual views the persons,” he said.

Campbell said the remarks by Holness were “unbecoming of somebody who occupies such high office in the country” and who is in close proximity to the prime minister. He said her comments were a reflection of how she views the people who are led by her husband.