Tuesday, Jul 14, 2020
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Speaker imposes new rules on cell phone use in Parliament

One week after the sister of Centreville MP Reece Chipman stood to her feet in the House of Assembly and shouted accusations at members of the governing party, House Speaker Halson Moultrie yesterday announced new rules regarding cell phones in Parliament. 

“With respect to reports and the broadcast of the events form this Parliament, the rules are clear that whenever a disturbance occurs within the precincts of this Parliament, the cameras, particularly those of the Parliamentary Channel, are to be directed on the chair and not roam the gallery and broadcast the events,” Moultrie said.

“Nor should there have been any cell phone recording of the event that took place and distributed on social media.

“The reports that I’ve received based on that breach of the rules and the broadcast on social media has resulted in my estimation to a very serious threat on the security of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and on its senators and members. 

“As a consequence of that, the ruling of this chair with respect to cell phones is as follows: No stranger would be permitted to bring a cell phone into the chamber of this Parliament without first receiving permission from the speaker via the clerk of this Parliament. 

“Technocrats of the government would be permitted to bring their cell phones into the chambers of the Parliament.

“The media would be permitted to bring their cell phones into the chambers of the Parliament and of course members are permitted to bring their computer and cell phones into the Parliament. 

“But under no circumstance should any recording of the proceedings of this Parliament by cell phone be broadcast without first receiving clearance from the presiding officer of the Parliament.”

Last week, before her outburst, Fontella Chipman-Rolle threw off her jacket to reveal a shirt that read #ChipmanStrong and hurled white wrist bands that read the same onto the floor of the House.

She then proceeded to shout various accusations and personal convictions as she was being escorted out of the House.

The House had to be suspended for five minutes as the police sought to get the situation under control.

When the House reconvened, Moultrie advised that Chipman-Rolle was taken into police custody and he labeled the demonstration as a “criminally motivated intervention”.

Yesterday he informed Parliament that police were continuing their investigation into the matter and had already taken statements from the House clerk and himself. He added that police intend to take two further statements from the members of Parliament for Golden Gates and MICAL, given that the missiles landed on the desk where they sit. 

According to the House rules, Chipman-Rolle could face a fine not exceeding $600 or imprisonment of a term not exceeding six months, or both.  

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications
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