No need to shun me, George Wright tells constituents

FERRIS CROSS, Westmoreland — George Wright, the parliamentarian at the centre of a domestic abuse controversy, yesterday said he supports the Sexual Harassment Bill tabled in the House by Gender Affairs Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange and assured his constituents that they need not shun him.

“Of course I will be supporting the Bill. As I stated before, I don’t support the abuse of women, boy, girl or even animals, I don’t, so you don’t have to [shun me],” Wright said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer after the Kevin Downswell Foundation donated Amazon Fire tablets valued at $260,000 to Ferris Primary School in his Westmoreland Central constituency.

Wright, who is now an independent member of the legislature, also said he would support any measure brought before the House that would benefit the country, regardless of which side of the chamber it originated.

“I am one person who speaks clearly my mind. If the Government decides to do something that is beneficial to this country, of course, yes, I will support whether this Government or the other Government.”

Wright, who had been elected to Parliament in the September 2020 General Election on a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ticket, resigned from the party earlier this month after soaking up public pressure to step down following the release of a video in April showing a man beating a woman with his hands and a stool.

A statement from the JLP said Wright submitted his letter of resignation to General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, terminating his membership in the party.

The party said his resignation was accepted, and noted his stated intention to address matters in the public domain and his continued belief in the policies and programmes of the Government and party.

Before that, the MP had applied for a leave of absence from the House, which was scheduled to end on June 21. However, last week he appeared in the Parliament.

He has neither denied nor admitted that he is the man seen in the video and last weekend he told the Observer that he was not obligated to speak on the matter.

“People already draw their conclusion and say all sorts of things, and I have also given the security forces and the media houses to do their due diligence on George Wright, so I have no reason to speak publicly about it,” Wright said.

At this week’s sitting of the House, Government and Opposition legislators engaged in a testy exchange over where Wright should be seated.

The dispute started after Opposition spokesman on health Dr Morais Guy rose from the seat closest to the door to ask that questions he had tabled recently be answered by Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

Dr Guy informed Speaker Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert that he had been assigned the same seat Wright had taken last week when Wright had turned up in Parliament ahead of the expiry of his leave of absence.

But the speaker and Leader of the House Edmund Bartlett wondered why Guy had been assigned the new seat without consultations.

Dalrymple-Phillibert noted that, prior to this week, there had been two vacant seats and, although she had no objection to Dr Guy being switched to the new seat, she felt it was a matter for discussions between the leader of the House and the Leader of Opposition Business Anthony Hylton.

Yesterday, Wright sought to assure his constituents that Westmoreland Central, which he said has been neglected for years, will continue to get good representation from him.

“Just to let the constituency know, as well, that once you are an elected Member of Parliament, nothing change… one might be thinking that as an independent MP you would not be getting the support that you need, but I am one such person that will be lobbying on behalf of this constituency, for the development of the constituency,” said Wright, who previously served as councillor for the Petersfield Division in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.

He pointed to ongoing road rehabilitation works, the trucking of water, the provision of Internet service, job opportunities and ensuring children can stay in school as some of his achievements.

He also confirmed that he will be contesting the seat again whenever a general election is called, arguing that the public will be voting on the performance of candidates and as such it does not matter which party he represents.

“I am here elected by the people and the voice of the people will speak. But, as I told you earlier, the people of Westmoreland Central are doing conscience vote nowadays. So it means that it doesn’t matter whether you are a PNP, JLP or an independent, they will support you if you represent them well,” he said.

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