Thu | Jun 1, 2023

Robert Montague resigns from Cabinet following damning FLA report

Published:Friday | March 11, 2022 | 11:37 PM
In a release, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said, late Friday evening, he met with Montague who tendered his resignation.

Robert Montague has resigned from the Cabinet as Minister Without Portfolio, capping a turbulent run as a minister of government over the past six years.  

The precise reasons are not known but the resignation comes days after a damning Integrity Commission report on the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) cited him for knowingly granting a firearm permit to six people with criminal traces while he was National Security Minister.

As security minister from March 2016 to 2018, Montague was in charge of the FLA.

Legislation gives the minister the power to recommend permits, whether entirely of his own volition, or on the recommendation of a review board.  

Montague's predecessor from the Opposition People's National Party, Senator Peter Bunting, has also been named in the unfolding scandal.

READ: Bunting implicated in FLA scandal

In a statement Thursday, Montague slammed the report as “grossly misrepresentative and incomplete”. 

At 10:59 this evening, Montague sent a WhatsApp broadcast message saying that within the last hour he gave Prime Minister Andrew Holness his resignation. 

The Office of the Prime Minister later issued a four-line statement confirming that Montague tendered his resignation with immediate effect.  

“Minister Montague expressed that it 'was a privilege to have had the opportunity to serve at the highest levels in government',” said a spokesperson in the statement, without mentioning any specific reasons. 

It's not certain whether Holness demanded the resignation.   

In his WhatsApp message, Montague said he has “personal matters” to deal with.  

“I need the time and space to treat with these matters. I have to deal with them. I have retained a law firm,” he added, referring to the Integrity Commission's report.  

In January, Holness stripped Montague, the chairman of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), of the transport and mining ministry and reassigned him as a minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.  

That followed the 2021 scandals involving the Airports Authority of Jamaica law-breaking investment in start-up private equity firm First Rock Capital Holdings and the Clarendon Alumina Production Limited.

Montague started as the National Security Minister in 2016, when the JLP won power, but soon came the controversy involving the botched procurement of used cars for the police and the scandal at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) over the issuance of licences to persons of questionable character.  

The results of that FLA investigation were published this week.  

Montague is the Member of Parliament of St Mary Western and his departure from the Cabinet has long been demanded by factions of the JLP that believed he did not support Holness in the leadership race in 2013.  

There were even calls for him to be removed as chairman last year.  

The Gleaner reported two days ago that Holness will have to mull whether Montague should remain in his Cabinet.  

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