|Former MPs support Ingraham’s farewell plan|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Jul 24, 2012
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham deserves a chance to give a farewell address in Parliament, said two retired MPs who were denied the same opportunity when Ingraham caused the House of Assembly to be abruptly adjourned back in March.
Cynthia ‘Mother’ Pratt, the former St. Cecilia MP, and Kenneth Russell, former MP for High Rock, said they hold no grudge against the North Abaco MP for denying them this opportunity on March 28, the final meeting of the House in the last term.
Pratt, Russell and other retiring MPs did not have the chance to make a final speech in Parliament thanking voters for their support over the years.
“I feel I should have had that opportunity, but if it wasn’t given it wasn’t given,” Russell said yesterday. “I hold no malice for him or anybody else for that matter.
“MPs should be able to say farewell to their constituents from the seat they sent them to. Regardless of [what] he did when we wanted to speak, two wrongs don’t make a right, so he’s entitled to it and he should be given it whether he did that to others or not.”
Pratt, who represented St. Cecilia for 15 years, cried outside the House of Assembly.
She said she has “moved on” and is happy that Ingraham will have the chance to speak in Parliament again.
“I believe that it is right and fair for MPs who have served for such a long time to be able to say farewell,” the former national security minister said. “Even though Mr. Ingraham didn’t allow me to do to it he is one of the longest serving MPs, I would feel upset if [Prime Minister Perry] Christie wasn’t given an opportunity to say farewell to his people.
“He (Ingraham) has served for so long not just North Abaco, but the entire Bahamas. I wanted to say thank you to the Bahamian people not just to St. Cecilia, but [to the] many Bahamians who supported me for many years.”
At a rally on March 29, Ingraham, who at the time was prime minister, defended his decision to move for the abrupt adjournment of the House.
“The PLP consider themselves to be special people with special privileges,” Ingraham said. “I heard them complaining.
“I see Mother Pratt sitting down on the step yesterday. They are now complaining that after we finished our business for which we were elected and we suspended the House of Assembly, that they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to their constituents.
“Well, didn’t they know how to find these constituents when they wanted to get elected to the House? How come they can’t find them now? Go right back to those same houses and say ‘goodbye, thank you very much.’
“Go right back, street by street, house by house — ‘I’ve come to ask you to vote for me, now I’m gone, thank you very much.’
“For five years they have had every opportunity to say whatever they wished. Thanks to the FNM, they were able to have their say in living color on TV. They must not blame me if they are late again.”
After the Free National Movement lost the May 7 election, Ingraham announced his plans to step down as leader of the party and give up his North Abaco seat.
He was sworn in as the MP for the area for the eighth consecutive time and later said he would resign on July 19, the anniversary of his first election to Parliament.
He handed in his resignation last Thursday; however it does not take effect until August 31.
Ingraham is expected to give a farewell speech to Parliament when the House reconvenes on Wednesday, according to Speaker Kendal Major.
“Wednesday is a sitting of the House. Based on the conversation he and I had we agreed that he would have something to say,” Major said.