Verbal clash mars Standing Finance Committee meeting
Insults flew like poisonous darts across the political divide in Gordon House Wednesday night, penetrating deep into the psyche of its intended targets and triggering a mix of rancour, laughter and the rapid hammering of the chairman's gavel during the closing session of Parliament's Standing Finance Committee.
Committee chairman Michael Peart was unrelenting in his efforts to bring about calm as some Opposition members engaged Justice Minister Mark Golding in a verbal clash.
Despite the apparent exhaustion written all over the faces of public servants who have had to endure the long sittings of the committee, many struggled to stifle laughter as the legislators engaged in name calling.
The stage was set for the verbal melee when Member of Parliament (MP) for West Kingston Desmond McKenzie quizzed Golding about comments he made on radio about some $1 billion spent by the Government in West Kingston in the wake of the 2010 operation by the security forces to serve a warrant on then Tivoli Gardens don Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
McKenzie said if Golding could not present the figures to Parliament, he should withdraw the statement he made on a radio programme.
"If you can't provide that information minister, then you should apologise and withdraw for misleading the country," a strident McKenzie declared.
Peart said the meeting was not the forum for trying to elicit a response on that matter from the minister, a comment endorsed by Golding who said the issue raised by McKenzie had nothing to do with this year's budget.
However, his comments appeared to have irritated McKenzie, who said: "You went out there and run off you mouth and you are not prepared to substantiate it."
"You don't have to be discourteous," Golding replied, but his remarks opened the proverbial door for controversial lawmaker Everald Warmington to enter the fray.
"You are a senator here; you are not a member," Warmington charged.
Golding hit back: "Be quiet. You have nothing to offer to this discussion other than rudeness."
Barrage of stinging invectives
Peart again tried to soothe tempers as Warmington unleashed a barrage of stinging invectives which sent Golding on the offensive.
"He is being his usual vulgar self. You are a vulgar man," the justice minister slammed the South West St Catherine MP.
Chairman to Warmington: "Mr Warmington, we don't need an enforcer in this meeting, you are behaving like an enforcer now."
At this point, Golding provided an explanation to McKenzie about the $1 billion, saying the Ministry of Finance was busy completing the Budget and could not provide the details earlier. However, Golding said he was in discussion with the financial secretary to ascertain when the information would be made available.
"So Mr Warmington, I hope that satisfies you; you rude little man," an annoyed Golding said.
North East Manchester MP Audley Shaw rushed to the defence of his opposition colleagues castigating Golding for his remarks.
"Rude and out of order; obnoxious, offensive. You are misleading the country," he chided the justice minister.
While Shaw continued to blast Golding, the minister uncharacteristically and mockingly taunted, Shaw.
"Brrrrrrrrrr! Brrrrrrrrr! Brrrrrrr! You are the former minister of bluster," Golding said, as he made a babbling sound in a boyish gesture, drowning the utterances of Shaw, to the amusement of Government lawmakers.