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Volney: Shame on PNM for 'attack' on PM's family

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

"Shame on you, member for Port of Spain South (Marlene McDonald)! Shame!" Justice Minister Herbert Volney yesterday declared as he blasted the Opposition People's National Movement (PNM) for making allegations against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, with respect to her living arrangements.

McDonald had alleged members of the Prime Minister's extended family were being maintained at taxpayers' expense at the Prime Minister's official residence.

"If you have any respect for the sanctity of family life, you would never, never have attacked our Prime Minister. All the people in this country know how low you went this week," he thundered to vigorous desk-thumping support at yesterday's Parliament sitting at Tower D on the Waterfront in Port of Spain.

"This week, the country has seen the Opposition sink to the lowest ebb," Volney stated as he contributed to a private motion criticising the Government's handling of the national security system.

Volney said the PNM didn't seem to understand they had lost office. He said it was up to the People's Partnership Government to be smart about administering the affairs of the country.

"Now that we are doing that and we are well on the way, they have embarked upon a series of measures, using the Parliament and the press in order to be dirty in the politics of the land. I would like to refer, in particular, to the low of the lowest that has been attracting national media of late."

However, some members of the Opposition appeared to think the minister also hit a new low when, in criticising the former administration, he made a veiled reference to former prime minister Patrick Manning having suffered a stroke. Volney recalled the PNM had built tall buildings which had no purpose but failed to build hospitals.

"We would have had Parliament in the Savannah," Diego Martin Central MP Amery Browne shouted back, referring to the Waterfront Complex.

"They have done little. And when the Honourable Member for Chaguanas West pointed it out, the Honourable Member for San Fernando East jumped up, and he tried to defend the little that his Government had done. And within ten days, regrettably...we have not seen him since; we have not seen him since," Volney said.

"Disgusting!" Browne snapped.

"When he (Volney) was in hospital with his heart attack, nobody tell him anything about it," Browne said as his colleague from Point Fortin, MP Paula Gopee-Scoon, remarked, "Disgraceful."

Volney was on a roll. When at one point as the Speaker chided Imbert for not giving Volney his undivided attention, Volney roared: "This sort of disrespect is still continuing, and I have not even brought out the willow yet. Having watched (Keiron) Pollard (West Indies cricketer who scored a century yesterday) use his small willow, I have a big willow!"

Volney said his ministry was created by the Prime Minister to ensure that those who do the crime see the sure face of criminal justice.

He said the Criminal Justice Bill would bring speedy justice, reducing the time when people wait to come to trial—from six years to six weeks. He said this Government was building more courts, and when they are complete, this country would be the shining light in the Commonwealth for courthouse construction.

Noting requests for proposals would be invited shortly, he said by the end of this Government's first term, it would be opening courts in various parts of the country. Courts would be constructed in the Trincity area, in Carlsen Field, in Siparia.

As Gopee-Scoon pointed out that Siparia, the Prime Minister's constituency, was once again the beneficiary of Government largesse, Volney said the Government was building a highway to Point Fortin. "So that those who commit crimes in Point Fortin can now go to Siparia to see the face of justice," he said to laughter.

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