Fri | Dec 3, 2021

‘Not a jungle!’

Published:Thursday | April 29, 2021 | 12:27 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
George Wright
George Wright

It is likely that embattled Westmoreland Central Member of Parliament George Wright will be paid during his two-month absence from the House of Representatives due to “unforeseen circumstances” requiring his immediate attention.

This was revealed by House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, who was adamant that the Parliament would not be governed by jungle law as she responded to a motion put forward by Anthony Hylton yesterday, seeking the reason for Wright’s leave request.

Wright has been dogged by controversy since the police sought him as a person of interest in an incident captured on video earlier this month in which a man assaulted a woman with his fists and a stool. The cops have wrapped their investigation, and no charges have been laid.

Making it clear that she was under no obligation to disclose the reason, the Speaker read into the records the request from Wright.

“My absence is due to unforeseen circumstances and the fact that there are certain matters which I am required to attend to as a matter of urgency,” Dalrymple-Philibert read.

She said the leave is to run from April 20 to June 21, 2021.

Government ministers Delroy Chuck and Pearnel Charles Jr sought to intervene, adamant that the Speaker was under no obligation to disclose the reason, rejecting the Opposition stance that Section 81 of the Standing Orders made it her duty.

“I don’t think you should be responding to this,” Chuck, the justice minister, protested.

But while accepting as true Chuck’s argument, Dalrymple Philibert said it was a matter of public concern.

“I have done so because I have nothing to hide,” she said.

“I want to make it abundantly that none of us condones domestic violence, but we cannot, as a Parliament, be led by jungle law. We have to abide by the laws,” a strident Dalrymple-Philibert charged.

On the issue of compensation of Wright, the Speaker said, “I suspect, like all other members who are absent from the House, he probably is still being compensated, and might I remind this Parliament that we have had members – several – [who] have been charged, [who] have sat here and compensated,” Dalrymple-Philibert said.

She further contended that the Standing Orders make it clear that the only time subsistence is denied is when a member does not inform the Speaker of House or her absence within a reasonable time.

Opposition Leader Mark Golding said that it was “disingenuous” to pretend that the matter involving Wright has not been politicised, given that he has been removed from the government caucus.

He said that the Speaker was right to disclose Wright’s reason for his leave from the House but said that a cloud still hangs over the matter.

“Persons do not have a right to be absent, they have to seek leave. You have granted around two months’ leave to the individual. We are all paid to represent our constituencies here and to attend meetings of this House,” Golding contended.

“As loud as the cries are, I must, as I sit up here, abide by the laws that govern what we do in here,” Dalrymple-Philibert stressed.

“This is not a jungle, and I am not encouraging jungle law,” she added.