Two attempts to hold a special emergency meeting of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly failed Wednesday after lawmakers were unable to obtain the requisite number of attendees either in the morning or the afternoon.
On Wednesday morning, all eight elected members of the Progressives political party did not attend the emergency meeting and did not send messages as to their whereabouts, leading House Speaker Juliana O’Connor-Connolly to adjourn the meeting and summons the missing members to appear later in the day.
About four hours later, the Speaker attempted to reconvene the meeting. In that instance, Premier Alden McLaughlin attended to object to the lack of a quorum. Education Minister Tara Rivers had objected to the same issue during the morning meeting.
In both instances, Ms. O’Connor-Connolly called a five-minute recess to seek to summons absent lawmakers to the chamber. Both times, no members of the government bench agreed to attend.
Eventually, Ms. O’Connor-Connolly adjourned the emergency meeting, stating the business it was held to review would be heard during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Legislative Assembly on April 25.
Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush attempted to raise an objection during the afternoon meeting, but the Speaker had already adjourned the meeting and walked out while Mr. Bush was still talking.
Later on, East End MLA Arden McLean shouted up to a balcony full of onlookers.
“I am fighting to maintain your democracy,” Mr. McLean said. “They are fighting to take it away from you and turn it into a dictator[ship].”
Premier McLaughlin did not make any statements during Wednesday’s afternoon meeting other than to object to the lack of a quorum. The premier has promised to hear both legislative motions during the regular course of business during the April 25 House sitting.
Mr. McLaughlin has previously characterized the effort to hold the emergency meeting as “pure opposition politics” and has said his government is busy dealing with many other relevant issues facing Cayman, including a recent media assault by the U.K. Labour Party leadership on the financial services industry here.
Mr. Bush said the issues concerning local police management and response would not go away and will continue to be top of mind for Cayman voters in the run-up to the next general election.
“He can run, but he can’t hide,” Mr. Bush said. “He can’t get away from this.”
The emergency meeting was called about a month ago to hear two legislative motions that questioned various aspects of local police management, as well as the police service’s response to an incident in which five boaters went missing in Cayman’s coastal waters.
Lawmakers moving the motions have alleged multiple failures by police management and its U.K.-based supervisors. The motion seeking to review police management procedures, filed by East End MLA Mr. McLean, has requested that a Caymanian be installed as police commissioner. The motion preceded the announced departure of RCIPS Commissioner David Baines who is set to leave the service at the end of May.
All eight opposition and independent MLAs were present in the House at the start of Wednesday morning’s meeting and one member of the government bench, West Bay MLA Tara Rivers, was present on the government side.
Shortly after the meeting, Ms. Rivers, who is the education minister, rose to object to the meeting being held due to the fact that a majority of House members – 10 – were not present.
After some legal discussions, Ms. O’Connor-Connolly adjourned the House for five minutes and summonsed the missing members, who included Premier McLaughlin, Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell and Ministers Kurt Tibbetts, Osbourne Bodden, Wayne Panton and Marco Archer. Progressives backbenchers Joey Hew and Roy McTaggart were also missing.
After the midday break, the House resumed again with all opposition and independent members present. However, Ms. Rivers had been swapped out on the government bench for Premier McLaughlin who again objected to the lack of a quorum.
Mr. Bush sought an explanation for why government members were absent, but Ms. O’Connor-Connolly walked from the chamber before he had finished speaking.