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Police warn NDM candidate

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Senior staff reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, December 22, 2011    

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NATIONAL Democratic Movement (NDM) candidate for West Rural St Andrew, Rev Dr Joan Porteous was yesterday released with a warning from the police after she reportedly staged a lone tyre-burning demonstration before the nation's Parliament on Duke Street in downtown Kingston.

Porteous who was reportedly carrying a bible and flammable material, lit the tyre symbolising her intent to "bun out corruption" but was prevented from doing further because of police intervention.

Yesterday, Political Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair said the Gordon House police had called him about the incident, even though it was not part of his remit.

"The police called me about it today and informed me that Miss Joan Porteous was taken up by the Gordon House police because she came by with a bible and flammable material and proceeded to set the tyre on fire," Bishop Blair said. He said he was told the political hopeful was warned and released.

He, however, questioned the correctness of her actions given that Gordon House is a restricted area.

"Gordon House is one of at least three areas in Kingston including King's House and Jamaica House that you should not have any form of demonstration within a given distance, and if that is done it would be a breach of the law so I don't know if a warning is sufficient for someone who goes in front of Gordon House to demonstrate so I am watching to see what the police will do," the political ombudsman said.

He said, however, that he can take no action. "It does not fall within my remit, it was not a political act, it was an individual act, but Gordon House is a protected area; it is where Parliament is held," he pointed out.

Yesterday, one parliamentary staff member in relaying the incident to the Observer was of the opinion that Porteous' action was "nothing of consequence" since the tyre burned by her was on the opposite side of the road separating the Parliament and not directly in front of the Parliament building.

Porteous at a meet-the-media breakfast put on by the non-partisan Jamaica Women's Political Caucus in New Kingston earlier this month was reported as saying she is determined to reduce the level of corruption and push for the transformation that Jamaica needs.

"The Constituency Development Fund which is given to members of Parliament must stop. It is an abuse of resources. There is hardly any accountability in politics," she said at that gathering.

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