Mikael Phillips goes on the defensive
MP denies he said PM couldn't visit Troy in his Manchester NW constituency
File photo of Troy High students using a makeshift footbridge to cross the river at Troy because of the collapse of the 125-year-old bridge in 2021. (Photo: Observer file)

MEMBER of Parliament for Manchester North Western Mikael Phillips was Wednesday forced to go on the defensive when minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Clifford Everald Warmington, said he had disrespected Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Warmington, who was making his contribution to the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, had just touched on the subject of damaged bridges where he announced that the Government will be putting in place a programme to rebuild, replace or repair 32 bridges at a cost of $4.8 billion over the next two years. He then mentioned that MPs, including the Manchester North Western representative, would understand the pressures of people not having suitable bridges, but stressed the Government's commitment to addressing this issue.

"So it nuh mek no sense nobody go out deh…and we beat our chest and curse the prime minister and carry on.

"If you…disrespect him, it doesn't mean the bridge is going to be built any quicker. And [I am] one person nobody ever 'bad man' down. You're not going to 'bad man' me down to get it. If it's in the pipeline; it will be done. Any member can disrespect me and I overlook it. But if you disrespect my prime minister…," he said.

But before he could finish, Phillips interjected on a point of order, as he believed Warmington was referring to him disrespecting the prime minister. He argued that it was a Gleaner article which reported that he said the prime minister "could not come to Troy", which he refuted, noting that he has no control over what headline the Gleaner uses on any article.

"At no point did I ever disrespect the prime minister…at no point did I ever say the prime minister could never come to Troy," he said, adding that if there was any disrespect that he saw from that article, "I meant none".

As he started to speak again, his words were drowned out by objections from Government MPs, with him telling them to "relax" repeatedly. It was here that Speaker of the House Marisa Dalrymple Philibert stepped in and quelled the furore, noting that "in all fairness, this is in relation to a comment that relates to the prime minister of this country and if there's an apology or a correction or something be made, I would like it to be done here in Parliament, so that the Gleaner, which carried the news, will know what it is it ought to carry".

Phillips, who has been calling for the replacement of the 125-year-old bridge since it collapsed in 2021, went on to reiterate that the member was giving the impression that he intentionally disrespected the prime minister, but that he never said anything that was disrespectful.

The Gleaner article dated May 24, with headline: "Phillips declares Holness not welcome when Troy Bridge reopens in Manchester," quoted the Manchester North Western MP saying: "The people dem sey fi tell the prime minister say when the bridge done, nuh come up dey come cut nuh ribbon, and smile wid dem, like him did know how dem did a suffer. Ah sorry him never inna Parliament the day fi him get [the message]. Nuh come up dey!".

"What I repeated then, I had said it here in my sectoral presentation. Nobody found any offence to it; it was not disrespectful. But as I said, if there was any disrespect to the prime minister, I apologise," he said.

Warmington, in his usual spitfire manner quipped: "There is a saying you know, if you fling a stone and anything squeal…and I didn't throw no corn, and I never throw no stone. All mi seh, is a member disrespect my prime minister, then you can't deal with me positively. Respect begets respect."

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer West during a tour of the area in March 2022, Warmington had given an assurance that the Troy Bridge will be replaced but that construction of the facility could stretch over two budget cycles.

"We have to find it [funding]. Looking at it we won't be able to do it in one budget. So we might have to do it over two years, two budget cycles as such. We will start it, and then compete it in the other year. But it has to be replaced. There are no ifs or buts about it," Warmington said at the time.

In the meantime, the minister noted that other bridges slated to be repaired this year include Craigmill, Portland; Spring Village and Guanaboa Vale, St Catherine; Southwood, Clarendon; Barham and Shewsbury/Logwood, Westmoreland; Mahogany Vale, St Thomas; Penfield, St Andrew; and Woodsville, Hanover.

He said $35 million will be spent this year to repair 15 bridges in St James and St Elizabeth, where rails need to be replaced.

"The bridges in St James that will be benefiting from the programme include: Howard Cooke Bridge, West Gate Bridge, John's Hall Bridge, Retrieve Bridge, Seven Rivers Bridge, Ducketts Bridge, Great River Bridge, and the Niagara Bridge. In St Elizabeth, we will be implementing a permanent fix to the ongoing problem of missing rails on the Lacovia Bridge," he said.

The 125 year-old Troy bridge collapsed in 2021

BY ALECIA SMITH Senior staff reporter smitha@jamaicaobserver.com

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 https://bit.ly/epaper-login


  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: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

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