The United Women’s Group (UWG) of the People’s United Party issued a press release today stating their disapproval of the, and we quote, “disrespectful and despicable behavior of the UDP members of the House of Representatives during House sittings. ” Yesterday at the House meeting, Hon Michael Finnegan made some pointed remarks about Audrey Matura Shephard. Here is how that session went.
Hon. Michael Finnegan: I nuh a call ah wah empty vessel. I nuh a be unfair to ah and I nuh a seh she da wah low grade attorney. I will not do that! I will be very fair to the lady, but the lady must, the lady must do her job as head of the union properly. Stop behave quarrelsome man. When you behave quarrelsome sir, from my 65 years of experience, you do not get things done. Especially if you’re representing people. She will run into trouble with those workers. The workers will eventually chase she because she’s not representing the workers interest. They have wah agenda deh. You know Mr. Speaker a thing that every Belizean public know. Anytime this union leader get up and this union leader talk, all she talk da Dean Barrow and Dean Barrow this and Dean Barrow that and I don’t know weh Dean Barrow do tha lady.
The United Women’s Group issued a statement today saying, and we quote,
“Yesterday the Member for Mesopotamia recklessly attacked Ms. Audrey Matura Shephard calling her an empty vessel and low-grade attorney, and he made clear sexual innuendos directed towards her. Such boorish conduct, we repeat, is cowardly and completely unacceptable. Mr. Finnegan brazenly abused his parliamentary privilege and immunity in attacking Ms. Matura Shephard who was not present to defend herself.”
The press release went on to say that, and we quote
“Other UDP Ministers and the Prime Minister were seen to be throwing their heads back with laughter. Such conduct is not only unbecoming, but makes Members unfit to serve in the National Assembly. Mr. Finnegan must apologize and the Speaker of the House must ensure that everyone abide by the House Rules so that this does not happen again”.
It is noteworthy that it is not the first time the Honorable Finnegan has made comments about females in the House of Representatives that resulted in outcry. One such incident was when Finnegan had used the “b” word to describe the then Speaker of the House, Elizabeth Zabaneh, when talking to the press. Today, Senator Lisa Shoman also spoke about Hon. Finnegan’s statements.
Lisa Shoman: As a woman and as a senator, I am deeply offended and I reject the language that was used by the Hon. Michael Finnegan yesterday in the House of Representatives against the president of the Christian Worker’s Union, Audrey Matura Shephard. It is unacceptable for any member of parliament to abuse parliamentary privilege to attack in such a personal manner, someone who is unable to defend herself in the same forum, and that this kind of incivility needs to stop immediately. I hope that all senators will join me in such condemnation, and I hope to never hear that kind of attack levied against any member of the public again. Thank you Mr. President.