NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A row erupted in the House of Assembly yesterday between Public Works Minister Desmond Bannister and members of the opposition, after Bannister expressed disappointment over the use of an ethnic slur at a recent PLP rally.
Opposition Leader Philip Davis however fired back at Bannister, labeling him and the Free National Movement hypocrites over their party’s silence on a similar issue last year.
The Progressive Liberal Party kicked off its official 2022 General Election campaign last week.
As she was introducing former Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Michael Darville, PLP National Vice Chair Patricia Deveaux noted that the PLP is comprised of “nice looking people” and not a “bunch of darkies all over the place, heating up the place”.
The comments made the rounds on social media, with many expressing contempt and shock at its prejudicial overtones.
Deveaux has since issued a public apology over the comments.
However, as he ended his contribution to the 2019/202 budget debate, Bannister also expressed his disapproval over the comments and the way the party has handled the Freudian slip.
“I am disappointed but not surprised that neither the leader of the opposition nor any opposition MP has publicly condemned or apologized for the self-hating remarks uttered publicly by one of their national officers,” he said.
“Had such a comment been made by an officer of the FNM, they would have made that the issue this entire debate.”
“The fact that not a single one of them has spoken out to condemn the self-hate is a very sad and telling statement.
“Without heating up this room anymore, Carmichael supports this resolution.”
Bannister’s comment led to a back and forth with members of the opposition.
Davis rose on a point of order to set the record straight, accusing the Free National Movement and the MP of being hypocritical.
Davis noted that both he and Deveaux released public statements on the matter, apologizing and condemning the comments.
He further pointed to the hypocrisy of the public works minister and reminded them of racial and homophobic comments made by a Free National Movement supporter and Water and Sewerage Corporation board member just last year.
In a series of voice notes in July, WSC board member Bennet Minnis expressed disapproval of the PLP leadership visiting Long Island and insisted that the party needs to stay off of the island.
Minnis categorized the PLPs as “one corrupt, stealing, no good, bastard, homosexual, African monkeys”.
He threatened to block the roads if the PLP were to return to the island, noting that “no policeman would be able to stop us.”
Minnis doubled down when questioned on the matter, saying his remarks were in reaction to the PLPs presence at his late cousin Sir Henry Milton Taylor’s grave in Clarence Town.
At the time, the opposition called for Bennet to be fired for the “abusive and inappropriate” remarks.
But Bannister refused to comment on the matter, noting that it was a Cabinet issue.
Other government officials, including WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson, remained tight-lipped on matter.
FNM Chairman Carl Culmer also declined comment, only saying the PLP should “clean their own doorstep”.
Davis noted yesterday that he wrote letters to both the Commissioner of Police on the matter and his own bishop because he shares a church with Minnis.