By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts is under fire for blasting politicians who participated in Sunday’s protest of conditions at the New Providence Landfill.
The protest was organised by an environmental action group, Raising Awareness About the Bahamas Landfill (RABL), but Mr Roberts has insisted that politicians orchestrated the event.
He called them “unpatriotic” for participating in a protest near the Baha Mar Convention Centre while the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) hosted their annual meetings in The Bahamas for the first time.
Hundreds of disgruntled residents marched during the protest, hoisting placards that read, “I can’t breathe” and “Too Young to Die”.
“Assuming that the organisers and participants all love The Bahamas, how was the demonstration in the manner it was executed helpful to the reputation of The Bahamas?” Mr Roberts asked in a statement released on Tuesday.
Responding yesterday, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney - who was at the protest - said Mr Roberts’ comments prove how “out of touch and backwards the thinking” the Christie administration is. He said Mr Roberts is a “disgrace” as chairman of the PLP.
Former FNM Chairman Darron Cash called Mr Roberts’ comments “asinine and disgraceful.”
Mr McCartney said in a press statement: “Rather than focus on the issue, which in this case is the fact that the health and livelihoods of thousands of Bahamians (are) being threatened by the government’s lack of ability and lack of interest in addressing issues surrounding the New Providence landfill, Roberts has chosen to do what he does best: deflect.”
“The PLP chairman’s commentary is proof that this government, like the ones before it, is concerned only with appearances and not in providing real sustainable and quantifiable change.”
“In the face of countless examples of the government’s callous disregard for the health and welfare of the citizenry of this country, the idea that Bahamians – whether they be politicians, preachers, or teachers – are unpatriotic for taking a stand and demanding more from our political leadership is an affront to the democracy which the DNA and countless right thinking Bahamians are working tirelessly to protect.”
Mr McCartney justified having the protest near Baha Mar by saying the Christie administration only acts on behalf of Bahamians when international attention is focused on a particular issue.
“It appears that the chairman needs to be reminded of the PLP’s ill-advised decision to erect tasteless crime billboards during the last general election season,” he said.
“Were those billboards – which were placed in high traffic areas for tourists and residents alike to see – not embarrassing and damaging to the country’s international reputation? Was the decision by the PLP at that time not an attempt to paint The Bahamas and its people in a negative light?”
In his statement, Mr Cash made a similar point.
“I assert for Mr Roberts’s benefit that if I wanted to politicise anything, I would remind Bahamians of how his party politicised the 2002 constitutional referendum and now wants all of us to take the high road and give Mr Christie a feather in his cap,” he said.
“(Prime Minister) Perry Christie never listens to anyone other than foreign consultants so in my view the organisers were right to try to get the attention of the international community. Perhaps when foreign voices speak up and offer validation to the cause of the protesters, then and only then will Mr Christie listen to his own people.”
FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis did not attend Sunday’s protest, however Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner was there.
At a press conference at his law firm yesterday, Mr McCartney also revealed plans to bring a class action lawsuit against the Christie administration regarding persistent dump fires.
“A class action suit is a type of suit where a group of persons get together for a common cause and to sue the government, so that’s going to happen. This law firm, Halsbury Chambers, will be the attorneys leading that charge,” Mr McCartney said.