'I was wrong'
Floyd Green resigns as Cabinet minister; after blatant COVID-19 breach; Audley Shaw to take charge of agriculture ministryThursday, September 16, 2021
BY ARTHUR HALL
FLOYD Green's meteoric rise in Government came to a halt yesterday following a Moët Champagne party on Tuesday that left thousands of citizens outraged.
As the criticisms of the Andrew Holness-led Administration, and Green, the then minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, reached a crescendo yesterday morning, the 39-year-old Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Western found remaining in the Cabinet to be untenable.
“Today, I have disappointed so many; my family, including my son, my prime minister and most importantly, the people of Jamaica who I have sworn to serve.
“No matter how briefly, and regardless of the circumstances, I should never have participated in any engagement that could indicate a lack of appreciation of the difficult and serious realities that now face the entire country,” said Green, in a resignation letter released to the media.
“My actions have demonstrated a lack of sensitivity for the difficult realities that all of us are facing currently.
“It was wrong. I accept that this was an error in judgement and that it sends the wrong signal, especially in light of the Government's drive to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For this I am really and truly very sorry,” added Green.
He said that he had met with the prime minister and offered to withdraw from the Cabinet, but that came hours after Jamaica Observer sources had claimed that a livid Holness had demanded Green's resignation before midday.
“I will work hard to regain the trust and regard of the Jamaican people. I remain 100 per cent committed to serving the people of South West St Elizabeth. I can and will promise that this lapse in judgement will not reoccur.
“Again, I apologise. I promise to, in the future, do right by the Jamaican people,” said Green, an attorney-at-law who was first elected to Parliament in 2016, and who will remain on the Government's back benches.
Last night Jamaica House announced that Audley Shaw, the minister responsible for industry and commerce, will take charge of agriculture and fisheries, which were held by Green. Shaw is no stranger to the portfolio as he held was responsible for agriculture and fisheries in the previous Jamaica Labour Party Government.
“The Government will ensure that all current programmes of work and policy direction are maintained to yield the maximum benefits to our farmers and our local agricultural sector,” said the Jamaica House statement.
Green, meanwhile, said he decided to get involved in representational politics because of a desire to do his part in creating a better Jamaica.
“It has been a very challenging journey, but I have been extremely blessed to have served as president of Generation 2000 (the young professionals' arm of the Jamaica Labour Party), and to be elected on two occasions to represent the people of South West St Elizabeth.
“At every step of the way I have worked hard. I believe I have conducted myself with dignity, honesty and discipline. I have remained transparent, above the fray of tribal politics and have treated every single person I come across with respect,” added Green.
The saga started late Tuesday night when a video surfaced on social media showing Green, the councillor for the Mona Division in the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC); the JLP's Andrew Bellamy; Green's assistant Gabrielle Hylton; and others, enjoying food and drinks at an obvious party.
In the video, Green and others are seen sharing in a toast while gathered at a table boasting bottles of Moet, Red Bull, and other refreshments.
Shouts of “No-movement Day” and “Shower Labourite”, a term used in reference to supporters of the governing JLP, were clearly heard on the video.
All the attendees appeared without face masks with the exception of an unidentified female who is seen wearing a mask on her chin.
It is alleged that the gathering was at a hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday in celebration of Hylton's birthday. Tuesday was a no-movement day, part of measures implemented by the Government to combat the spread of COVID-19 on the island.
With many individuals up in arms about what was a clear breach of the COVID-19 protocols, and further incensed by what appeared to be a mocking of Jamaicans who were locked in their houses observing the no-movement day, the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) called for the resignation of Green.
“When a minister of Government, who sits in Cabinet and is collectively responsible for its decisions, is caught red-handed violating the spirit and intent of those laws, that minister must be made to resign,” said Opposition Leader Mark Golding.
“For a minister of Government, who ought to be setting an example for the population as a whole, to be flouting the no-movement day restrictions and partying with friends is an arrogant insult, a slap in the face of the people of Jamaica,” added Golding.
Bellamy has since issued an apology for his part, and announced that he has resigned from the board of the South East Regional Health Authority and as chairperson of all the committees of the KSAMC.