Friday 3 April, 2020

Phillips apologises for 'giving middle finger' in Parliament

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips shows two fingers in Parliament on Tuesday.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips shows two fingers in Parliament on Tuesday.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has apologised for ‘flipping the bird’ in the House of Representatives on Tuesday during a heated and contentious debate on the myriad of problems facing the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.

Phillips apologised on Thursday during a press conference at the People’s National Party’s headquarters at Old Hope Road, St Andrew. He had been faced with mounting criticism, including from the youth arm of the governing Jamaica Labour Party for the gesture, during which he held up both middle fingers.

Phillips told journalists Thursday morning that during the debate, he sought to get a two-minute extension for Opposition Spokesman on Health, Dr Dayton Campbell, to allow him more time to highlight “the deepening crisis at the Cornwall Regional Hospital and the failure of the Government to address this crisis with the urgency it deserves”.

“In seeking this two-minute extension I used a gesture which has become the subject of controversy and interpreted as offensive. As the records of the Parliament will show, at no time was any offence meant and none was taken either by the Speaker, who is the presiding officer of the Parliament, nor by any member of the parliament on either side of the aisle,” Phillips stated.

He added that “in light of the misinterpretation, and in some instances misrepresentation, I regret using this gesture in what was a light-hearted moment of banter in the House, in fact, intended to diffuse any tensions which were arising.”

The Opposition Leader said the controversy generated in public discussion should not be allowed to divert public attention from the “serious threat posed by the negligence of the government to the Jamaican people, and particularly for the people who use the facilities of the Cornwall Regional Hospital.”

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