Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Volney to PM: Fire Warner, Ramlogan

St Joseph MP Herbert Volney is calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to fire National Security Minister Jack Warner and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

It is the first call from within the ranks of the United National Congress (UNC), which forms the majority in the People's Partnership Government, for the Prime Minister to take such decisive action.

Volney is still a member of the UNC, though he is not under the Whip.

Volney told reporters yesterday that these two senior ministers attracted too much "negative publicity" and "unnecessary bad press", which were distracting the Prime Minister from her work and her Government from succeeding.

Speaking during Parliament's tea break at Tower D of the International Waterfront Centre in Port of Spain, Volney said he was merely reflecting what "town says", as well as the views of the people of the marginal constituency of St Joseph.

"I am a man on the ground every day of the week and the people still support the Prime Minister. But they want to see her act to remove all the baggage that is unnecessary in moving forward."

Volney said he was "all over" on the ground, from Bangladesh to Petit Bourg to Mt D'Or to Aranjuez, Bamboo and Valsayn North, and the view coming across was that these were the two people creating "the distress".

He said he thought Warner was doing a good job at the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure.

"But he was moved (to National Security) and it is not that I don't think Mr Warner or the people of my constituency don't think Mr Warner has a good role to play. It has nothing to do with all the baggage he seems or is made to appear to come with...

"It really has to do with taking some of the unnecessary burdens off the Prime Minister. She should have not have to be concerned as to the personal life of the Minister of National Security and that sort of thing. She shouldn't have to deal with that. She should have a clear mind to deal with crime interdiction and national development."

Volney said while he would support the Defence (Amendment) Bill, it would not make a significant dent in the fight against crime.

"Because the Defence Force already working with the Police... We need to go further and make evidence gathering (better) when it comes to proving cases against gang members much easier for the law interdiction forces," Volney said.

He added that initially he did not plan to support the Bill but after he heard the Prime Minister give assurances that Government would balance the measures by protecting the civil and civic rights of citizens, he reviewed his position.

Volney said he had also expressed the view to the Prime Minister, the National Security Minister and the Attorney General that the Anti-Gang legislation needed to be revisited.

"We spent a lot of time (on it) and so far we have not had a single conviction under the Anti-Gang law. That means it is not working."

He added that he had expressed his view on how the legislation could work, but it would mean returning to Parliament.

Volney said he wanted to see the establishment of a Gun and Drug Court Authority, probably at the Santa Rosa Facility, which is currently underutilised.

When someone (an accused) goes inside there, they should only come out if they have been acquitted or have finished serving time after conviction, he said.

"That is the way to clean up the streets of gangs and that is not what I am seeing in the Parliament at this time."

He said the Government had lost much of what it was building at the Ministry of Justice and to bring about swift justice so that criminals are deterred from committing breaches of the law.

"That seems to have gotten cold," he added.

Volney said he e-mailed the Prime Minister regularly "and I know she reads my email... The Prime Minister knows how I feel about these matters".

He said the Prime Minister reads hundreds of e-mails every day.

"She opens e-mails all day long and she reads and hears what town is saying."

In response to questions, Volney said he was not interested in returning to the Cabinet.

"I have opened my services to the Prime Minister behind the curtain."

He said he wanted to stay in his constituency and work for the people at the ground level.

Asked whether he had spoken to either Warner or Ramlogan on the matter, Volney replied: "No, I do not enjoy that kind of audience with these former colleagues in high places. There are a few lowly ones who (I have that kind of audience with)... They (all) read everything I write." See Page 9.