By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Democratic National Alliance allegedly paid “vulnerable people” $25 to wear DNA T-shirts and to participate in the party’s demonstration last week, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell claimed.
However DNA Leader Branville McCartney shot back at the claims and said as party leader he was “unaware” of any money paid to protestors. He called on Mr Mitchell to fix his priorities and focus on immigration matters instead of the DNA.
Last Wednesday, nearly 200 DNA supporters protested in Rawson Square over what they called a “death of democracy” caused by the Christie administration.
In a statement released over the weekend, Mr Mitchell said this prompted him to begin investigations into the demonstration after reviewing footage of the protest. He said footage showed some Fox Hill residents participating even though they are not supporters of the party.
The investigation, he claimed, determined that the DNA contacted people “in and around the Fox Hill parade and asked them if they wanted to make $25 for a day’s work.”
“That day’s work turned out to be demonstrating for the DNA and marching to town in a DNA T-shirt,” Mr Mitchell said. “The reason I react to it is that I am incensed that the DNA would use vulnerable people in Fox Hill for the DNA’s political ends. I do not fault the people themselves; I fault the DNA for this cowardly action, taking advantage of our vulnerable people for political gain. I condemn it.”
Mr Mitchell labelled the DNA a “political irritant without a current political base,” adding that the third party is attempting to give the false impression that it has “widespread political support in the country.”
Yesterday Mr McCartney listed a number of national issues the Fox Hill MP should focus on, instead of casting aspersions on the DNA.
“As leader of the DNA, I am unaware of any money paid to persons attending last week’s demonstration,” he said. “The DNA is not like the Free National Movement as the minister has asserted and we are certainly nothing like the Progressive Liberal Party. We do not, have not and will not pay people to vote for us as the PLP allegedly did in the last election.
“We do not condone or participate in cronyism. These are all practices of the PLP.”
Mr McCartney said Mr Mitchell should worry about securing the country’s borders.
“During a time when our country’s borders and resources continue to be drained by the burden of illegal immigration, I find it absolutely amazing that Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell found the time to ‘review’ footage of the demonstration that was held in Rawson Square last Wednesday,” he said. “For a minister of the government to take the time to review and study the footage of a political organisation which members of his own party have called insignificant tells me that his priorities in overseeing his portfolio in the governance of this nation leaves much to be desired and suggests to me that the DNA has become more of a threat to the political establishment in this country than any third party before it.”
Mr McCartney also said Mr Mitchell should perhaps review footage of PLP rallies during the last election campaign to be reminded of the promises his government have not addressed.
He said Mr Mitchell should also review crime statistics and suggest a solution to crime to Prime Minister Perry Christie.
He added: “And what about an in depth review of the minister’s travel itinerary since taking office in 2012? Has Mr Mitchell reviewed the results of the many first class trips abroad which were funded by the public purse? A review of that information is certainly necessary and we call on Minister Mitchell to release those findings to the public via a similar statement to the media.”