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RESPONDING TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE OF THE DISASTER RELIEF AUTHORITY

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Sen. Fred Mitchell
Chairman of The Progressive Liberal Party
Leader of Opposition Business – Senate
Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs & Shadow Attorney General

For Immediate Release
24 May 2020
 
The press conference held by the Disaster Relief Authority today was in a word a disaster. There was no one there at the political level who could properly take responsibility and explain what happened on Friday 22 May 2020 in Abaco.

Where was the Prime Minister?
Where were all the Cabinet Ministers who share ultimate responsibility for dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian?
Where were the representatives for Abaco?

This matter involves the worst human loss in the country’s post-independence history.  The grieving and the nation altogether should have been given the uncomfortable, honest, and frank consultations in the earliest days possible. 

The families whose grief is being expressed through heart-breaking protest, are not concerned about science; they are concerned about the political decision to bury the possible remains of their loved ones without consultation with them.

With due respect to all the professionals who spoke today, they could not answer the questions which the public has. And they didn’t help matters by being defensive or seeking to shift blame onto members of the public and the media. From the discussion on line which followed the press conference, it is now clear that the public is now raising serious questions as to whether favouritism and special interests led to the mismanagement of this process.

The Minister for Disaster Relief, the one political level individual there, was largely mute, then could not answer any serious question raised. The Prime Minister was missing in action. At the end of the press conference, we are left with the question: who will take political responsibility for the mess which we all saw on our televisions last Friday 22 May 2020?

Today’s technical press conference is an academic exercise divorced from the suffering of the living when it was needed most for so many painful months. The Prime Minister, who has abdicated his role as mourner in chief for the country, is in hiding.  Facing reporters and the public is one of his main duties in Government. 

The public now knows clearly that the Prime Minister and this Government failed to give the action and support that post-recovery continues to demand. Dorian will not be our last hurricane. We should have been able to learn positive lessons from this experience. Instead we now see how incompetence, inaction and lack of compassion has been one disaster after another.
 
Bahamians do not disregard deprivation and suffering; nor the dead; nor do we conduct our affairs in the way that this Government treats the country.   

The PLP once again offers our condolences to the families of all who have lost their loved ones. We understand the grief expressed at that service on Friday. We will continue to advocate on their behalf and to pray.
 
End