PNP threatens protests, court action re Gov’t’s Portmore parish push Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

There could be street protests and court action if the Government persists with its plans to make Portmore Jamaica’s 15th parish.

That warning was issued on Tuesday by the Member of Parliament (MP) for St Catherine Southern, the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Fitz Jackson. He gave the warning during his contribution to the 2024/25 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

“The PNP’s position is very clear. The present construct of the Portmore City Municipality represents the expressed will of the people and must be respected. If they, through an adequate and transparent process of consultation, clearly indicate they wish to have some changes to what they created, so shall it be,” Jackson stated.

“Anything less than that will be resisted by me and the People’s National Party in the streets and in the courts, if necessary,” added Jackson, who is also the PNP’s spokesman on matters related to Portmore.

Jackson argued that what is being pursued by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government goes far beyond just Portmore. He charged that the actions of the Government are about seeking to turn back what the country has achieved over the past 44 years in “detribalising” the electoral process.

Said Jackson: “It is a regrettable and dangerous retrograde path that all well-thinking and decent persons must resist with every fibre in our body! It is about preserving our hard-earned democratic process in this country, and respect for the will and desire of the residents who are being treated with contempt. Evil prevails when good people fail to act. We will act.”

He likened the actions of the JLP to a “… attempt to reintroducing that age old and universally-abandoned practice of gerrymandering the parish boundaries of St Catherine.”

Jackson went on to say that, “This sinister and anti-democratic relic of gerrymandering would reverse the arrangements for a municipal structure lobbied and fought for by the residents and stakeholders of Portmore. A structure that emanated from years of widespread consultations across the length and breadth of Portmore.”

The longstanding MP said the PNP did not create the Portmore municipality, saying the PNP merely facilitated the expressed desire and aspiration of the people of Portmore to have what their wisdom and intellect prescribed.

“The PNP administration facilitated that realisation because we respect the will and intelligence of the people we serve, and because we don’t see ourselves as their masters, but their servants.”

In appearing to point to a motive on the part of the Government in pushing for parish status for Portmore, Jackson said the JLP has won control of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation just once since 2003, only because the political pendulum had swung in its favour.

“That was in 2007. It was the JLP administration led then by Prime Minister Bruce Golding who (which) had flown the idea of making Portmore into a parish during the campaign leading up to the 2007 General Elections. However, I gather that after assessment of a requested extensive study done by the EOJ (Electoral Office of Jamaica), the idea was abandoned for the rest of that term of office,” said Jackson,

He asserted that not having ever won a majority of seats in the Portmore Municipality, and only winning the mayoral race there once, the current Administration decided to use its parliamentary majority to unilaterally manipulate the boundaries of two of the Portmore parliamentary seats and separate Portmore from the parish of St Catherine.

“In so doing, they sought to unilaterally determine constituency boundaries by removing communities that traditionally voted for the PNP. They seek to go further, and separate Portmore from the rest of St Catherine.

“By removing the Portmore councillors from St Catherine, they figured their chances of taking control of the St Catherine Municipality would be improved,” Jackson theorised.

According to the PNP spokesman, “This … was clear to us and many others from the beginning, and we said so. This was continuously denied by the Government.

Jackson said what he labelled as a plot was stated by a senior JLP member, and claimed that the individual’s public statement was never refuted by the top leadership of the governing party.

Jackson also said in his efforts to erase all doubt, he sought to table questions in the House for the prime minister to answer, but he was unsuccessful in that bid.

Jackson said despite the senior party figure’s statement on the matter, and presumed embarrassment to the Government, the prime minister announced on January 17, 2024, at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Portmore Resilience Park, that the Government will not proceed with any plan for making Portmore a parish before the then upcoming Local Government Elections, and advised that widespread consultations would precede any further steps.

“We applauded that decision and were happy that good sense had prevailed, at least for a while,” said Jackson, but claiming that the Government has since gone back to its initial plan.