Bush ends leave of absence, returns to Speaker’s chair

Dismisses no-confidence motion as rumours, Seymour refutes claims of break in ranks

McKeeva Bush says he will once again take up the Speaker of the House’s chair at the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly.

Speaking with the Cayman Compass on Thursday, Bush said he returned on Tuesday to his official duties as Speaker, after ending his leave of absence.

Bush has also refuted claims of a no-confidence motion against Premier Alden McLaughlin or that he was supporting such a move.

In February, Bush announced that he was taking leave, saying, “I will be doing the grief counselling and emotional stress management sessions that I spoke about and that I should have done a long time ago.”

His leave followed allegations that he had assaulted a female employee at the Coral Beach Bar on West Bay Road. He has since been charged with three counts of common assault and one count of disorderly conduct in relation to the 21 Feb. incident.

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He said at that time that he had no recollection of the incident, but was told he “reacted badly” when he was being assisted to his feet after passing out and falling down.

George Town South MLA Barbara Conolly has acted as Speaker in Bush’s absence.

On Thursday, Bush, in an interview with the Cayman Compass, said an official end date had not been given for his leave, which originally appeared to be indefinite following his arrest and subsequent charges in relation to the alleged assault.

However, Bush said, “I never told the public any such thing [about indefinite leave]. I said I needed to take some time to deal with grief management (related to the death of his daughter in 2011). I did that while still managing my responsibilities as the member for West Bay West and certain responsibilities with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.”

He is set to go on trial on 7 Dec. A case-management hearing is scheduled before Magistrate Valdis Foldats on Friday, 21 Aug.

When asked about returning as Speaker while facing trial, Bush said, “So what if there is a trial? Am I not innocent until I’m proven guilty? And if I’m proven guilty, then the House has the recourse if they want to. I don’t know who [would] want to.”

He added, “Justice cannot be decided by social media, the press or public opinion. Justice cannot be decided by hearsay.”

Ezzard Miller. independent MLA for North Side, told the Compass he did not approve of Bush’s return to the chair.

“It would be unfortunate and inappropriate to have Mr. Bush as Speaker in the chair of the Legislative Assembly while before the court on criminal charges,” he said.

The Compass reached out to the premier, but had not received a response by publication.

Bush brushes off no-confidence motion claims

Bush also dismissed as rumour claims that he was part of a ploy to destabilise the Alden McLaughlin-led National Unity Government through a push for a no-confidence motion.

Bush said, as Speaker, he can confirm there is no censure or no-confidence motion in the Legislative Assembly.

“There is none filed to me and none filed in the House. And I don’t believe that there’s any. There’s a lot of shenanigans going on here. I have not been party to any such motion,” he said.

Bush criticized the petition being circulated online calling for voters to support a no-confidence motion in the premier. He added that he supports the coalition government.

“I made the coalition government; me and others, of course. But I’m an integral part of the coalition. Yes, there are things that, as I say, I wish we didn’t have to deal with at this time,” he said, stressing he is not part of any censure motion and will not be.

It was in that same vein that Health Minister Dwayne Seymour affirmed his allegiance to the government and his support of McLaughlin as premier.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour says he supports Premier Alden McLaughlin and the National Unity Government, despite voting against the Domestic Partnership Bill tabled by the premier last month. – Photo: GIS

“Yes, I do support the premier,” Seymour told the Compass in a telephone interview Thursday, adding that he did have confidence in McLaughlin to lead the country.

Responding to claims that he was supporting a no-confidence motion against McLaughlin, Seymour said, “I have no interest in that and that makes no sense at all. It is insane to think about something like that.”

He said there was no truth to claims that a motion was being called.

“In fact, how would you do that? You need seven people to take it to the LA; who will? You need that to call a meeting, then you need 10 people to get a vote, and which 10 people are going to take that? It cannot work. That is nonsense and mischief, it’s just a distraction,” he said.

Seymour, together with Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Captain Eugene Ebanks, voted with the opposition to vote down the Domestic Partnership Bill last month.

The health minister said, despite their action in the Assembly, they still remain part of a cohesive government.

“People need to stop it. We do not need that kind of distraction right now. I have a lot of work to do for the ministry and a lot of work to do for the coalition… I am still busy, even after the vote. That happened, and we move on and hope for the best for this country,” he said.

Seymour pointed out that, at caucus and Cabinet this week, everyone attended the meetings in person and there was “good camaraderie” as usual.

“There was laughing and the same jovial spirit we have,” he said.

Meanwhile, Miller added his voice to dismiss the petition for the no-confidence motion in the premier.

“That petition is an exercise in futility and those who are pushing it should know better. Even if they succeed in removing the premier, that will not stop the governor from enacting the laws that he has published,” he said.

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