By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
HOUSE of Assembly Speaker Kendal Major did not apologise to students at the College of the Bahamas yesterday as he tried to explain why they had been barred from parliamentary proceedings.
Student union representatives, who met with the Speaker at the college’s campus, took exception to Dr Major’s explanation and his insistence that the House did nothing wrong.
He also said police officers on duty on April 17 were only carrying out their duties which led to 14 students being kept outside of the House for hours in the blistering sun.
The officers claimed that “certain intelligence” led them to believe that COBUS (The College of the Bahamas Union of Students) had plans to disrupt Parliament and may have presented a “security concern”.
Dr Major told COBUS yesterday that House protocol dictates any group consisting of more than five persons who want to get in the House gallery must first notify his office.
He told the students that an investigation into what happened on that day revealed no record that the student union had called ahead.
However, COBUS president, Ernesto Williams said the union had communicated with House staff on April 16. They were given approval to attend the meeting, Williams said.
He expressed disappointment in what he claimed was disrespect of the rights of young Bahamians.
Dr Major said: “When I spoke with the president on the telephone, I believe I did use that word (apologise) but I want to be very careful with that and I want to be very careful because in the preview of my duties as Speaker I don’t feel that the House was misrepresented or that the House did anything wrong.
“I believe that my presence here today is an indication of my sincerity with the unfortunate circumstances that occurred. My role and responsibility is to keep order and respect in the chamber called the House of Assembly. For that I am unapologetic.”
Dr Major criticised the media for reporting what happened in Parliament Square, claiming no media contacted him for a response.
However, The Tribune called Dr Major numerous times on the day the students were barred and for several days after for comment. There was no response to any of our requests for comment.
On the day, after the students had waited for several hours to gain access to the House, an MP told them they would be allowed to sit in on the meeting during the evening session, but that never happened.
COBUS claimed the MP said the Speaker had given approval. Dr Major yesterday denied that he had given such a directive. He said the MP had “misspoken.”