Sun | Feb 17, 2019

Parties waiting until after Bloomfield’s funeral to focus on by-election

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2019 | 12:32 AM
Kenyon Hemans /Photographer Opposition MP Dr Fenton Ferguson paying tribute to the late Dr Lynvale Bloomfield during last Tuesday’s sitting of the Lower House.

The executive of the People’s National Party (PNP) has given the party’s officers permission to select a candidate to contest the by-election in the Portland Eastern constituency, following the death of the sitting representative Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, who was murdered just over one week ago.

The decision came following reports that a number of Comrades had started to make overtures to the PNP delegates in the constituency in a bid to be selected to contest the by-election, which is expected shortly after Bloomfield is buried.

PNP’s vice-president with responsibility for the region, Mikael Phillips, yesterday told The Sunday Gleaner that the political activities by some individuals were disrespectful to the late MP.

Phillips said the party’s executive touched the issue at its meeting last Monday.

“The party put it to the executive and it voted to give the officers the power to select a candidate for the seat, and that process will take place but only after his funeral.

“Now is the time to allow the constituency and his family to grieve. Now it the time for us to celebrate his life,” said Phillips.

“We, the general secretary, regional chairman, Dr (Donald) Rhodd, Dr (Paul) Robertson and I had a meeting at the constituency office to look at the plans going forward. The party leader came in and signed the condolence book. The meeting discussed plans for the vigil in his honour and basically decided how we are going to go forward,” explained Phillips.

“He (Rhodd) still maintains a presence in the constituency. He is there two days a week for his practice and still works with Dr Bloomfield in the constituency. So it’s nothing strange that he would be invited to the meeting,” said Phillips, as he responded to speculation that Rhodd’s presence at the meeting was an indication that the three-term MP would be returning to representational politics with the by-election.

Yesterday, Ann-Marie Vaz confirmed that she is prepared to represent the Jamaica Labour Party in the constituency when the by-election is called, and added that out of respect for Dr Bloomfield, she will do no campaigning in the constituency until he has been laid to rest.

“I will contest the by-election when it is called, and that’s not up for debate. But right now, I really hope we allow him to be mourned and buried with the dignity and decency in the way he served as MP,” Mrs Vaz told The Sunday Gleaner.

She said she hopes the police will make a quick breakthrough in solving the murder of Dr Bloomfield, so the perpetrator or perpetrators can be brought to justice.

Her husband Daryl, the MP for the neighbouring West Portland, underscored that she will be contesting the by-election, and lashed out at persons who he said have been trying to sully the family’s name.

“Once again rabid political tribalists have again sought to malign me and my family. I have been living with the painful allegations for years and it is not fair,” said Mr Vaz.

He said his team will not be stopped by the allegations, but out of respect for Dr Bloomfield his wife would do no campaigning until after the funeral and a suitable time has elapsed for his family to mourn.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com