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I’VE NOTHING TO APOLOGISE FOR: Speaker insists she stands by criticism of NEMA’s director

HOUSE Speaker Patricia Deveaux.

HOUSE Speaker Patricia Deveaux.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

HOUSE Speaker Patricia Deveaux yesterday maintained she sees nothing wrong with her criticism levelled at National Emergency Management Agency director Captain Stephen Russell and sees no need to apologise.

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, the Bamboo Town MP explained that her rebuke of Captain Russell was out of concern for residents in her constituency and the Bahamian people and not for political reasons.

She also advised that people must learn to take constructive criticism to “become stronger and do better” when there is a need for improvement.

“My thing is this,” she said, “and this was not political, and this was not personal for me.

“It was me acting in my capacity as the member for Parliament for Bamboo Town, okay. When I would have gotten into the Bamboo Town area, first and foremost that was a catastrophe.”

 “This was not a mop and broom situation. What I was faced with and what I mean by that is we could sweep out the water and mop up the floor and clear up the whole situation. When I spoke to Mr Russell, it was after seven. My indication is this – catastrophe and disasters don’t happen between 9 – 5,” she added.

 “It could happen just in the night. If it was midnight, I would have gotten out of my bed and went down to whatever point in Bamboo Town (the) catastrophe would have happened to be, there with the constituents and call on services that are necessary to help bring relief to the citizens of this country. That is what I was hired to do.”

 Ms Deveaux continued: “All he had to say to me was ‘Ms Deveaux, I am on the ground but here is the name of somebody else – Jean Doe, John Doe from NEMA. This is their number and maybe they can come down and give you some assistance and if all else fails, here is an emergency response number which you can leave with your constituents where they can have some level of contact even if something happens that is untoward throughout the night’.”

 Speaking from her chair in Parliament last Thursday, Speaker Deveaux delivered a scathing rebuke of Captain Russell after she claimed the NEMA official did not effectively respond to her calls for assistance following tornado damage in her constituency Wednesday.

 While she admitted various agencies responded to her calls for help, the Bamboo Town MP singled out NEMA and its director as being absent.

 Speaker Deveaux said when she did speak to Mr Russell, he directed her to the Ministry of Works.

 However, in a statement released hours after her speech, NEMA defended the agency’s response to the event.

 The agency outlined the efforts they said were ongoing following the tornado and also assured the public that the director was engaged throughout the entire process.

 As a result, some - including the Opposition - have called for the House Speaker to issue an apology in view of the episode.

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FREE National Movement Leader Michael Pintard.

 During a press conference Friday, Opposition leader Michael Pintard told reporters that what transpired on Thursday in the House of Assembly was most “inappropriate” and unfortunate.

 He said: “Let me say up front that we believe every member of Parliament, including the Speaker, has a right to speak on behalf of their constituents and we all get emotional when we believe something has happened to our constituents that needs to be remedied.

 “But what we have to be careful of is that in speaking up for our constituents we don’t do so at the expense of others and unfortunately, we thought that the manner in which NEMA, Captain Russell, was characterised was most inappropriate and unfortunate.

 He also said parliamentarians must be careful not to “negatively characterise” defenceless citizens and veteran public servants who are not in the House of Assembly to defend themselves.

 “The Speaker owes Captain Russell an apology,” he added.

 However, Speaker Deveaux said she stood by her statements and that she didn’t think that issuing an apology was necessary.

 “What am I apologising for?” she asked. “Because I’m asking someone to take action. What am I apolosing for? I am asking him to beef up and to fix it. Listen to my whole comments and I told him to fix it because you know in hurricane season, he has been there for many years.”

“He has been there for so many years and he has been through so many other tunnels and catastrophes. When one such as an unforeseen tornado would’ve hit, let’s spring into action. I’m calling for action. That’s all I ask and I don’t see nothing wrong in my comments by asking because if a hurricane was to hit and we have something of a larger magnitude? Is NEMA ready?”

 The Bamboo Town MP also noted that the backlash she received will not discourage her from being vocal and speaking on issues of concern in the future.

 “Listen, I took an oath,” Speaker Deveaux told this newspaper. “My oath is to make sure that I bring help and hope to a group of people who have not hoped in the system and lost faith in it and as long as I have a voice and my voice is from my chair, I will utilise that chair for the benefits and benefactors of not just my constituents, but for the citizens of this country.

 “You as a national, national entity and a national agency that covers not just here, but the family of islands. Let’s fix it now and we have to be able to take constructive criticism. Criticism is here to make us grow stronger and for us to do better,” she added.

Comments

realitycheck242 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Like Pat Rahming song says....."When Bain Town woman catch afire .....even the devil run. "

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned... so I guess Pat Rahming was correct!

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sheeprunner12 5 months, 2 weeks ago

She's too damn dumb to realize the wrong she has done.

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John 5 months, 2 weeks ago

NINETY PERCENT of politics today is about name calling, character assassination, gutter politics and corruption. No wonder so little gets done in this country.

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M0J0 5 months, 2 weeks ago

We ask representatives to work for the respective area they are sitting in the seat for. When the member spoke out for her area its a problem. Yes maybe wrong timing in the speaker seat but she was only doing what she was voted to do speak out for her people. NEMA should be ashamed.

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Sickened 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Any PLP's on here think she needs to apologize?

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 2 weeks ago

She should apologize as Fitzgerald, Mitchell and DAguilar should apologize for dragging private citizens into house discussions.

And forget the House. This is NOT the way to tell a worker to do a better job.

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Sickened 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I appreciate the response. And I agree with you. Respect!

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TalRussell 5 months, 2 weeks ago

This will not be a first should the current House of Assembly Speaker run afoul of the governor general for experiencing what a Comrade House Speaker calls 'disloyalty to the House's chair of authority' In fact House records will show of an actual arrest and taken into policeman's custody has before resulted such claims disloyalty involving the actual reach of the chair's authority.. ....And most definitely think not the time for anyone's to make up such kinds stuff during such serious business over the actual reach of the House Speaker's authority. ― Yes?

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bobby2 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm amazed that she can't see how wrong it was to say the things she did in a public forum. It appears obvious she is in over her head in the position of Speaker!

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birdiestrachan 5 months, 2 weeks ago

If Mr Russell made mistakes in his duties he should apologise the speaker was passionate , as for saying he was watching TV saying she is sorry will not hurt her
She should also calm down it will be good for her heart and blood pressurel

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birdiestrachan 5 months, 2 weeks ago

It takes a really big person to say if I offended I am sorry and all off the talk will come to an end

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realfreethinker 5 months, 2 weeks ago

She is a big person, but not smart enough to apologize

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truetruebahamian 5 months, 2 weeks ago

An ass-piring political nobody who wants to become a legend. Lady, nobody knows you and nnobody cares about your feelings.

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realfreethinker 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The previous speaker was trash, but she is'nt doing anything to distinguish herself from him. SAD

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tribanon 5 months, 2 weeks ago

She's not the real problem....she's nothing but a mere distraction. It's the person who appointed her Speaker of the House who is the real problem. And we all know who that is.

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sheeprunner12 5 months, 2 weeks ago

You are correct. Davis put the junglist in the Chair

We have reached a new low.

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TalRussell 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Appearing in horsehair wig cloaked velvet robes and where plumed garter is still a thing with our sisters might alter one's alter ego's perception how reality functions since 6th October 2021. Rumours' have reached Balls & Alleyways Insights & Analytics people about a certain sister acting out like she's done being a recipient of the Queen's appointed "Ladies of the Garter" ...And yes, that's an actual Buckingham Palace appointment by Her Majesty.― Yes?

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mandela 5 months, 2 weeks ago

She spoke entirely out of turn, before finding out the facts and dealing with the situation on a practical level she chose to deal with the situation just like any woman, from an emotional point. and which woman when wrong says sorry I was wrong, before saying I am sorry her remarks would be like, and make sure it doesn't happen again.

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JanetG 5 months, 2 weeks ago

NO PAST OR PRESENT HOUSE SPEAKER SHOULD SPEAK TO ANYONE IN A POOR AND UNDIGNIFIED MANNER, ESPECIALLY SITTING IN THAT HIGH CHAIR. THE OUTBURST AND DISPLAYED REPEATED ANGER IS THE SUBJECT MATTER. (NOT THE AFFECTED CONSTITUENTS OR GOVT.) MOST FOLKS WHO ARE LOUD MOUTHED, ARROGANT AND BULLIES, NORMALLY ENCOUNTERED UNDERLYING ISSUES WHILE GROWING UP. ITS LIKELY THEY GREW UP FEELING INVISIBLE, UNHEARD, AND OVER LOOKED. THEY OUGHT TO BE INTERRUPTED THRU PROFESSIONAL INTERVENTION OF THERAPY AND SEEK SOUL CARE. BECAUSE THE OUTBURST WE'RE HEARING IS THE TRAUMATIZED CHILD IN AN ADULT BODY SPEAKING OUT FROM A HIGH CHAIR OF DIGNITY, GRACE, ORDER AND DECENCY COME RAIN OR SHINE. I AGREE AN APOLOGY IS WARRANTED BUT GIVEN THE PROFILE, THAT'S OVERREACHING.

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