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BERMUDA- Speaker adjourns House until early February, staves off further protests

  • Written by CMC
  • Published in Politics
HAMILTON, Bermuda, Dec 8, CMC  -The immediate threat of renewed clashes outside the House of Assembly has been removed after Speaker Randy Horton on Thursday announced that he has adjourned parliament until early February.

Police in riot gear used pepper spray against demonstrators outside Sessions House, which houses the House of Assembly and Supreme Court, last Friday protesting against government’s plans for a new airport terminal.

The protesters blocked parliamentarians from entering the House for the second time this year.

Debate on the airport project has now been delayed until at least February 3.

Horton stepped in after suggestions that protesters against the development, still angry about police action during last week’s demonstration, could have repeated their protest outside Sessions House on Friday.

Horton said in a statement: “Last night I met with the Premier, Michael Dunkley, and the Opposition Leader, David Burt, to discuss my concerns relating to the protests which occurred last Friday outside the precincts of Sessions House.

“As a result of that meeting, both the Premier and Opposition Leader have agreed for the House to be adjourned until Friday, February 3, 2017.

“At this juncture, I am requesting a full independent inquiry into the sequential events surrounding the recent protest.”

Burt called for demonstrators to come out in a show of “people power” last week to demand that the ruling One Bermuda Alliance submit the airport proposal for an independent review.

Asked about claims by some members of the public that it could be seen as encouraging demonstrators to break the law, Burt said: “The only persons to blame for what took place are the officials who ordered armed riot police to engage peaceful protesters who were assembled.”

Burt said that he hoped that “never again will I witness peacefully assembled protesters attacked by police with force and pepper spray”.

Dunkley has maintained than an assessment of the airport plan has already been carried out.

Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva said in the aftermath of the protest that some officers used incapacitant spray in a “proportionate response to disperse the crowd”.

He said earlier this week that it was his job alone to “determine the use and control of the operations of the service” and that no individual outside of the Bermuda Public Service was told about the decision to deploy riot police to the scene before the decision was enacted.

The island’s new British Governor, John Rankin, said on Wednesday “it remains my hope that calm will prevail and that all parties concerned will take constructive steps to resolve current differences in a peaceful fashion in line with Bermuda’s democratic tradition”.

Rankin confirmed that grievances against police officers were being investigated, and would be passed on to the Police Complaints Authority.

Alleged assaults on officers were also being examined, with files being prepared for charges to be brought.

  • Countries: Bermuda