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McKenzie slams Lucea mayor for media hate outburst

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:13 AM
Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels has been reprimanded by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie.
Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels has been reprimanded by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie.

Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels has been scolded by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie for his caustic criticism of the media during Thursday’s sitting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC).

Samuels had declared that he hated the media and was particularly upset about recent news reports that the parish was in a dirty and unhealthy state.

“I am not just bitter, I hate the media. I hate the media, and as a matter of fact, not just the media, I hate some people who work in the media,” Samuels said during the meeting.

But McKenzie contends that while everyone, including elected officials, has a right to criticise the media, expressions of hatred for the Fourth Estate should not be condoned.

“I know and fully appreciate that the mayor is passionate about, and dedicated to, the development of the parish of Hanover. Whatever his view about the accuracy of media stories or the motives of the media, his statement of hatred for some media practitioners, and in particular, his doing so in an official meeting of the municipal corporation, which he chairs, is completely unacceptable,” McKenzie stated in a press release.

“We cannot allow any discussion about public affairs to descend into the paradigm of hatred and personal offence,” he said.

Samuels is one of four People’s National Party (PNP) councillors in the seven-member HMC. He contends that there is a plot to make his administration look bad.

Meanwhile, Ian Hayles, member of parliament for Hanover Western, has apologised on behalf of the PNP for Thursday’s outburst.

Hayles, whose constituency includes the Cauldwell division, which is represented by Samuels, says the PNP respects freedom of the press and viewed as unacceptable any behaviour that ran counter to that position.

“I did not make the outburst, but as the chairman for the PNP organisation in the constituency of Western Hanover, which all PNP councillors in the constituency fall under, I want to say that’s not the view of the local PNP and it is not the national view of the PNP either,” said Hayles.

Hayles said that the party should review the mayor’s outburst and decide whether disciplinary sanctions should apply.

The HMC had banned members of the media from its Physical Planning, Environment and Development Committee meeting in December 2017. Their action was subsequently condemned by McKenzie, who instructed that the ban be lifted immediately. The committee eventually apologised for the ban.

McKenzie has reached out to the mayor again to discuss his most recent outburst on Thursday.

“I have spoken with the mayor about this matter, and accordingly, expect that he will withdraw these remarks from the public space generally, and also, when the Hanover Municipal Corporation has its next monthly meeting,” he said.

Bryan Miller contributed to this story