NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Free National Movement Leader Michael Pintard says the party has not given full support for memorial activities in honour of Hurricane Dorian victims, emphasising that the details of the events have not been shared with his team.
Press Secretary Clint Watson announced last week that a week-long national memorial will be held next month involving activities across Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence.
The Office of the Prime Minister said the celebrations will be the first government-recognized memorial since the passage of Dorian and it highlighted the opposition’s support for the event.
Pintard, however, said the opposition has tremendous concerns about it.
“The first concern is the fact that the press release indicates that the opposition is fully on board with respect to these celebrations. That is untrue in the sense that we do not know the details of the celebrations. We have had passing conversations with members of the public relations team of the government. We’ve had no serious conversation, myself with the prime minister, my colleagues with any of the ministers with respect to this matter. That’s ordinarily how it is done.”
“Secondly, we ought to receive correspondence on each of the events that are being proposed and what role if any they wish for us to perform with respect to these since all of us have a shared commitment to the recovery of members of the public and businesses that have suffered as a result of the passing of Dorian.”
Watson said a national memorial concert will be held at Baha Mar featuring local talent and headliner Cece Winans, a gospel singer.
Pintard said: “We are aware that a concert is being held. First of all any concert that’s held ought to have as a headliner Bahamian artists. We have world-class artists. But also the labels ought to be correct. I don’t know anybody that is interested in celebrating anything relative to Dorian save for being grateful to God that we are alive, those of us that remain, but to pay respect to those that have passed, that we give tribute to their memories. So we believe that those persons, particularly those who reside in Nassau, have not had a discussion extensively with those of us who have lived through Dorian and we ought to be engaged in the conversation.”
Pintard also pushed back on the idea that this is first government recognised memorial since the storm.
“It is untrue that this is the first celebration or commemoration that is government recognised,” he said. “It is untrue. We’ve had church services, we’ve had on a number of occasions honoured the first responders. We’ve been committed to drawing attention to the heroic efforts of persons who didn’t need or waited for government guidance before they jumped into action. And so we should not politicise it in any way by saying this is the first, it is not true.”
Pintard said the government should be helping people still suffering effects from the storm.
“If the government is going to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, whether it’s people’s money or private money, let’s help the people in Abaco and in Grand Bahama get back in their home,” he said.
“Let’s help businesses recover. These are concrete ways; and so that any ceremony should complement that effort as being the main thing.”