by Rowland A. Parks
BELIZE CITY, Wed. Sept. 16, 2015–Debates in the House of Representatives have of late become even more personal and vicious than they typically are, but Members of the House are immune from prosecution for whatever they say.
At the House meeting yesterday, Tuesday, the area representative for the Mesopotamia constituency, Hon. Michael Finnegan, who is a UDP whip and a senior parliamentarian, let loose a tirade against Audrey Matura-Shepherd, president of the Christian Workers Union (CWU), who is an unrelenting critic of the administration of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
At the meeting of the Senate today, Opposition Senator Lisa Shoman took Hon. Finnegan to task for his remarks against trade union leader Audrey Matura-Shepherd.
Matura-Shepherd, apart from being an activist attorney and an Amandala columnist, is also the president of the Christian Workers Union.
Hon. Finnegan had the government side of the House roaring with laughter as he spoke disparagingly of Matura-Shepherd, who had, in her capacity as union president, called for government’s intervention on behalf of 60 employees of First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) before the passage of the vesting bill that would allow for a smooth transfer of its assets to Heritage Bank (which was being passed before representatives of the employees got a chance to negotiate an exit package with FCIB).
Senator Shoman told the Senate, “I hope you will allow me one moment of parliamentary privilege to say, Mister President, that as a woman and as a senator, I am deeply offended and I reject that language that was used by the Hon. Michael Finnegan yesterday in the House of Representatives against the President of the Christian Workers Union, Audrey Matura-Shepherd.”
Senator Shoman added, “It is unacceptable for any member of parliament to abuse parliamentary privilege to attack in such a personal manner someone who is unable to defend herself in the same forum and that this kind of incivility needs to stop, immediately. I hope that all senators will join me in such condemnation and I hope to never hear that kind of an attack levied against any member of the public again. Thank you, Mr. President.”