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PNM slams Penny’s UNC curry lime

Tuesday, December 10 2013

OPPOSITION People’s National Movement (PNM) General Secretary Ashton Ford yesterday slammed former PNM Senator Penelope Beckles-Robinson for being at a UNC curry-duck event on Saturday.

Ford refused to rule out disciplinary action against Beckles-Robinson who is the PNM’s lady vice-chairman. He said the party is “looking into” statements made by Beckles-Robinson in defence of her decision to attend the event.

Ford’s attack came on the same day it emerged that Opposition and PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley has chosen Beckles-Robinson’s former Senate colleague – Fitzgerald Hinds – to act as a temporary senator in place of Faris Al Rawi at today’s sitting of the Senate. Before both were removed from the Senate last week by Rowley, Beckles-Robinson was senior to Hinds, holding the post of Opposition Senate Whip.

Beckles-Robinson attended the curry-duck event hosted by the Oropouche East constituency of Government Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal at the Fun Splash Water Park, Debe, on Saturday night.

Ford said Beckles-Robinson’s attendance at a UNC event ahead of a general election was wrong.

“In the build-up to a General Election it is always difficult for party members to be convinced you are solidly backing the party when there are meetings like this,” Ford said. “Only last Wednesday at the Central Executive meeting a member was expelled from the party because they contested the local government election as a candidate for a party opposed to the PNM in San Fernando,” Ford said.

“This was not an Opposition function. This was not the right time. She is a member of the leadership of the PNM. Baliser House got a lot of calls today about that. Lots of people are concerned,” Ford said. “What is of concern is she not only attended but also addressed the audience and was roundly applauded. It was a UNC function!”

Asked if Beckles-Robinson’s attendance at a UNC event was any different from Rowley sharing a chartered CAL airline with Prime Minister and UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to attend today’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Ford said it was different.

“In the same way you often have formal consultations with the Opposition, the Prime Minister invited the Opposition Leader to attend. This is a matter of State and is distinct from a matter of politics,” Ford said.

Of Beckles-Robinson statement that she was simply at a public place, the General Secretary was unimpressed. Ford said he intends to, “have a chat”, with Beckles-Robinson on the issue.

UNC politicians weighed in on the “curry-duck” issue yesterday with Community Development Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters saying he goes to Rowley’s house “all the time.”

“I want to say something to people here who don’t know, I go to Keith Rowley’s house all the time and I am a UNC. But I go to Keith’s house,” Peters said.

Acting Prime Minister Marlene Coudray yesterday said, “I think it was an event planned by an MP. I think we are still living a free country, eh?”

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