Thu | Oct 29, 2020

Senators clash as Crawford questions whether ship workers are suicidal

Published:Saturday | May 23, 2020 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Johnson Smith

SENATORS YESTERDAY traded barbs as they clashed over the Jamaicans who recently arrived in Falmouth off the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Adventure of the Seas.

The ship docked at the historic Falmouth Port on Tuesday with 1,044 Jamaicans aboard who had been stranded at sea for more than two months.

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, was on the defensive as the Opposition criticised the Government over its handling of the situation.

The atmosphere in the Senate became rowdy when Senator Damion Crawford quizzed Johnson Smith on the issue.

However, Johnson Smith said she would defer to Prime Minister Andrew Holness to answer some of the questions.

But an unrelenting Crawford pressed for answers.

“If there is an acknowledgement of anxiety that cannot be a reasonable statement when we are hearing that persons are killing themselves on the ship. Have you heard that? We are hearing that persons are jumping overboard.

“If the answers are known by the minister, then the minister should be willing to provide those answers with immediate effect. Stop waiting on the prime minister to have his press conference. That is not a reasonable position,” Crawford said.

Making mischief

But Johnson Smith said the Opposition was making mischief.

“I do not wish for there to be room for misinformation and mischief because even as the Opposition is calling for unity in one breath, they are, through statement ... by Crawford in the guise of a question, creating mischief and causing for spreading of misinformation,” Johnson Smith hit back.

Johnson Smith insisted the administration had no knowledge of the ship’s intention to sail into Jamaican waters because the Government had still been in negotiations with Royal Caribbean.

“It’s mischief causing, it is taking matters out of context and creating mischief and it is not helpful in a crisis. It creates anxiety for people who legitimately otherwise have concerns!” the foreign minister said as she chided the Opposition.

Meanwhile, Johnson Smith has said her ministry has been assisting vulnerable Jamaicans in more than 40 countries who want to return home.

She said that the ministry and the consular team have fielded hundreds of telephone calls and emails from affected persons and their relatives seeking advice and assistance.