Free National Movement (FNM) Central and South Abaco Constituency Association Chairman Victor Patterson said yesterday Central and South Abaco MP James Albury should not be forced to resign from his post as parliamentary secretary after formally requesting that the prime minister launch an inquiry into the burial of 55 victims of Hurricane Dorian.
“No, I don’t think he overstepped,” Patterson told The Nassau Guardian.
“I mean, he’s the member of Parliament. Who besides him should send that letter? I don’t think he overstepped. If anything, sort of a lot of people on Abaco have been pushing him to be more vocal.
“In his position, of course, he’s got to walk a narrow line. He needs to give voice to the feelings of his voters.
“He’s also a member of government, so he needs to balance that as well. It’s a very tough position to be in to find that line. There’s always going to be some people who say, ‘You should’ve said more. You should’ve pounded on the table harder.’
“And some people who will think, ‘Oh, you should’ve shut up and be a good soldier.’ So, you have to find the right line.”
On Saturday, Albury wrote a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis requesting an investigation into the “process and timeliness” of the burials in an effort to “bring answers and closure” to the people on that island.
As a result, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell called for his resignation, charging that Albury, a parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, is bound by Cabinet decisions.
However, Patterson shot that down.
“That’s just BS,” Patterson said.
“I just roll my eyes at that sort of thing. No, he shouldn’t resign. What for? All he is saying is there’s a lot of upset people and, as the government, we need to look into this and tell them how things got to that point.
“That’s not like some huge broadside against the government. Anybody who was there saw that we had some upset people, so sometimes the best thing to do when you have an upset is to respond.
“He wasn’t accusing anybody of improper behavior or anything. All he said is, ‘We have some upset [people] who’d like some answers. Can we give them a form in which they could be provided?’”
He said the matter should not be made political.
“It’s not an FNM or PLP issue,” Patterson said.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with that.”
Patterson said he supports Albury.
“His job is to represent the people,” he said.
“The people feel that they would like some more explanations to how things got to the point where they did. I, personally, know some of the answers because I’ve been sort of involved. I know that nobody made a bad choice, so a lot of things happened that were bad luck and unfortunate.”
Some Abaconians have been critical of an ecumenical service held on Friday for victims of Hurricane Dorian, in addition to the fact that the 55 bodies remain unidentified, almost nine months after the hurricane wreaked havoc on Abaco and Grand Bahama in September.
The Disaster Reconstruction Authority has pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delay with the process of identifying and the ultimate burial of storm victims.
The service was originally scheduled to take place in March, but was postponed as the country entered a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak.