Johnson Smith responds to concerns of opposition senator

Leader of  Government Business in the Senate, Kamina Johnson Smith, has responded to criticism of  comments she made yesterday to Opposition Senator  Dr.Floyd Morris.

During debate on the National Identification and Registration Bill, Morris expressed concern about the limited time he was given to peruse several pages of  amendments he received minutes before the start of  the Senate.

Morris, who is visually impaired, expressed difficulty and asked for an adjournment of  the Senate to facilitate his participation in the debate.

Johnson-Smith responded by saying  -  "They are not complicated and Senator Morris, having recently completed your PhD and having also written your autobiography, I hesitate to think that it would not be too much for us to work through.”

However, in a statement this afternoon, Johnson Smith said absolutely no disrespect was intended to Morris and added that she apologised immediately and withdrew the remark without any prompting from the Senate President or anyone else after  recognising that offence had been taken.

She noted that this was done twice.     

 Johnson Smith asserted that Morris walked out having moved a Privilege motion to suspend the sitting, which was voted down by the Government side.

This was after he made a contribution to the debate on the Bill.

Speaking yesterday on Beyond The Headlines, Morris insisted that his walk-out was not based on a political stance, but because he represents other persons with disabilities and has a duty to them.

Johnson Smith said she believes and understands that the question of  the rights of  individuals has and will always be a sensitive matter.   


Meanwhile, Leader of  Opposition Business in the Senate, Donna Scott-Mottley, says she does not accept Senator Johnson Smith's apology.

In an interview with RJR News this afternoon, Senator Scott-Mottley said she will be writing to Prime Minister Andrew Holness about the issue.

And the clause by clause review of  the National Identification and Registration Bill in the Senate has been suspended until Monday. 

The debate on the Bill is now at the Committee stage.


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