Clarke's 'Massa Mark' comment leads to Opposition walkout
Opposition MP Angela Brown Burke argues a point in the House of Representatives, Tuesday.Photo: (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

A large portion of Finance Minister Nigel Clarke's closing budget speech was delivered without the presence of most Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, after a walkout following a heated exchange between MP for St Andrew South West Angela Brown Burke and House Speaker Marissa Dalrymple Philibert.

The two MPs butted heads after Brown Burke, who had risen on a point of order over Clarke's repeated reference to Opposition Leader Mark Golding as "Massa Mark", retorted "Shut up!" in response to a remark from a member on the Government side. This drew objections from Leader of Government Business Edmund Bartlett and Dalrymple Philibert, who insisted that the remark be withdrawn.

"I was just about to allow the member," said the Speaker, who found Brown Burke's behaviour and her language offensive. "If you withdraw that unparliamentary language, of course you'll be allowed, and I will not renege from that," the Speaker said.

Brown Burke argued that there was glaring inconsistency in the House regarding conduct: "If I'm going to withdraw it, I'm not going to do it on your terms. I'm willing to withdraw it, but not on your terms. The members over there say 'shut yu mouth' every day and you have nothing to say about it. You cannot beat me over the head, you cannot beat me into submission," she said, as the speaker insisted that the remark be withdrawn before the point of order could be allowed.

House Speaker Marissa Dalrymple Philibert stands her ground during an exchange with Opposition MP Angela Brown Burke, Tuesday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Following the walkout, which saw only Leader of Opposition Business Phillip Paulwell remaining on the Opposition benches after a failed intervention on Brown Burke's behalf, the Speaker referred to the standing orders, pointing out that "she said words that indicated that she was not going to do as the Speaker directs. This is not to say that a ruling of any Speaker cannot be challenged. But there is a parliamentary way to do that. If you object to the ruling given by the chair, then you raise a procedural motion dissenting from the chair's ruling immediately and thereafter it is seconded by someone else. You do not stand and shout at the Speaker and indicate that you're not going to do it, which is what took place in this Parliament".

Dalrymple Philibert then insisted that there was no bad blood between herself and any member of the Opposition. "I enjoy with most members a good relationship, including the member from South West St Andrew, but it cannot be good parliamentary behaviour for her to indicate that she will not abide by the ruling of this chair," she said, stressing that she had not heard the comment made by the Government member to whom Brown Burke responded. "I cannot rule on something that I did not hear," she said.

MP for St Ann South Eastern Lisa Hanna stressed that if consensus is to be built across the aisle, there must be some degree or appearance of fairness, noting that words are frequently exchanged by both sides during the sittings.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at


  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Which long-term investment option is more attractive to you at the moment?