Warmington accuses colleague MPs of using gangs as election tools

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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South Western St Catherine MP Everald Warmington yesterday told Parliament that much of the criminal activity being perpetrated in the Corporate Area is to be blamed on members who use gangs as election tools.

He made the comment in response to a plea by Leader of Opposition Business in the House and MP for Kingston Eastern and Port Royal Phillip Paulwell for more resources for the police to control the high level of shooting and murders occurring in his constituency.

“I must bring to this House's attention what I regard as acts of terror that exist in my constituency,” Paulwell said, noting that police reports show a 33 per cent incease in murders, and a 45 per cent leap in incidence of shooting since the start of the year.

He said that constituents have been calling him at various hours of the day about constant gunfire, and one even suggested erecting a buffer zone between the rival communities.

Warmington said that while he sympathised with Paulwell, the constituency is a People's National Party (PNP) garrison which, he said, meant that PNP gangs could be fighting against other PNP gangs, as the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has only won that constituency once.

“It is total PNP. So what you have is PNP fighting PNP and, with a PNP MP, he should be able to control it,” Warmington said.

“The problem is that people encourage gangs to fester and develop as an asset for them during elections and after election when they turn loose, they make noise about it. What needs to be done is that all persons, whether you are MP, or whatever you are, turn in the gang members. Turn them in; don't ask police for help after you use them for election,” he argued.

Paulwell took exception to the inference.

“I take very strong exception to the member misleading about how gangs are formed and who husbands them. I can say, without any fear of contradiction, that I would never support political gangs of any kind in my constituency,” he said.

Opposition Spokesman on National Security Fitz Jackson said he, too, rejected Warmington's assertion.

“It is unfortunate. Police report that most of the murders are by gangs and the highest crime rate in Jamaica is in Montego Bay,” Jackson said, noting that most of the St James constituencies are held by the JLP.

“Is he asserting that the MPs for those constituencies are responsible for the gangs that are committing the murders in those constituencies? That is the inference he is making. It is irresponsible and he should withdraw the remark,” Jackson said.

In response, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang sought to assuage the concerns about the spate of crime in recent weeks, especially in the Corporate Area. Speaking at the adjournment of the sitting of Parliament, Chang conceded that procurement procedures were delaying the provision of more new vehicles for police use. However, he noted that the Government has already budgeted some $21 billion in capital spending for the constabulary force.

“We are fully aware of the areas with serious challenges and the Commissioner will be making some operational changes soon,” he told the House.

Speaker Pearnel Charles closed the debate afterChang's intervention, insisting that the standing orders only allow for three speakers for a maximum three minutes on motions for the adjournment.


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