(CMC) – The Speaker of the Trinidad and Tobago House of Assembly, Bridgid Annisette-George Friday said that a prima facie case of breach of privilege had been made out against opposition legislator, Dr. Roodal Moonilal following “threatening and violent” comments he made in the Parliament last month.
“It is well accepted that Parliament is a place of strong opinions and emotions, and when tempers flare, Members can get carried away. However, I am consoled that our House is more orderly and decorous than many others,” Annisette-George said as she ruled on the matter involving Moonlilal and Fitzgerald Hinds, the Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs.
The Leader of the House, Camile Robinson-Regis, who is also the Minister of Planning and Development, had reported the October 15 incident to the House following what the Speaker had described as “a heated exchange”.
Annisette-George said that while she did not hear the exchange on that day, she had since viewed the video footage and listened to the audio recorded during the sitting held on that day.
“I have also read the Hansard of the proceedings,” she said, adding that the words uttered by Moonilal, a former housing minister, “were in fact uttered” and that she is “also satisfied that several other Members heard the comment”.
The Speaker said that the matter raised by Robinson-Regis “is a serious one, as there is absolutely no place for violent or threatening language in this House.
“The statement made, when placed into context as presented by the Member for Arouca Maloney, clearly falls below the esteem and dignity of the Parliament,” she said.
“Therefore, having considered the submission made by the Member for Arouca Maloney, and in accordance with my duty under Standing Order 32(4), I rule that a prima facie case of breach of privilege has been made out, and that the incident requires further consideration by the Committee of Privileges. I so rule,” she added.
This is the second occasion within a month that Moonilal has been sent before the Privileges Committee.
Last month, the Speaker ruled that he be sent there following comments he made linking Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to a United States bank account.