Former Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly has accepted a Cabinet position in Wayne Panton’s government, while new East End representative Isaac Rankine has come back to the coalition of independents.
PACT leader Wayne Panton, Wednesday morning, confirmed the new additions to his team.
O’Connor-Connolly will take up a ministerial post with the Panton-led administration, the PACT leader said.
“Her departure was disappointing but not entirely unexpected,” Progressives chairman Alden McLaughlin told the Cayman Compass when asked for comment.
Rankine’s post in the new administration is yet to be announced.
There could yet be more dominoes to fall. O’Connor-Connolly wrote in an email to her Progressives colleagues that she has decided to “respect the wishes” of her Sister Islands constituents to have a seat in government.
She said she had requested that Panton offer more posts to members of the past government and her email indicates that “he is open to DP Mose and Party Leader Roy M” being ministers, referring to Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell and Progressives leader Roy McTaggart.
Panton confirmed this morning that negotiations are now over.
Rankine, who had campaigned on the basis that his constituency needed representation in government, is also confirmed as having switched back to join Panton’s team, though there is no suggestion at this point that he would be a minister.
The changes were confirmed this morning following negotiations last night after Panton partnered with McKeeva Bush to secure the 10 signatures needed for his election as premier.
Once Panton had won the race to 10, he had the bargaining power to bring others on board.
Adding two new members to his government could give his PACT coalition an 11-8 majority on the floor of the House, with Bush in the Speaker’s chair.
Equally, Bush’s involvement in the coalition is no longer mathematically necessary. The Compass understands, however, that the agreement to make him Speaker remains in place.
Last night Irma Arch was proposed as a temporary outside Speaker to ensure that there would be sufficient numbers on the floor to vote Panton in as premier. That may no longer be necessary.
In her email to Progressives colleagues, which has now been widely circulated and the Compass has confirmed is genuine, she wrote, “My constituents have expressed in no uncertain terms that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman need a Minister in the Government.
“As a result, I had to respect their wishes and accept the offer of a Minister.”
She notified them today of her decision to switch sides ahead of the swearing-in in Parliament which is planned for 3pm.
“We gave it our very best and won our seats. Further, we spent endless hours endeavouring to form a PPM/Alliance Government and then a coalition of PPM/Independents. For various reasons this did not materialize and in the end the Independents achieved the numbers to form the Government,” she said.
O’Connor-Connolly said she has requested Panton offer more seats to Progressives members and “he is open” to offering Kirkconnell and McTaggart minister portfolios.
“I am prayerfully hoping that this would materialize but if not, please know that my decision is based purely [on] the requests [of] my people on the Sister Islands,” she said, adding it was “a most difficult decision for me, but please rest assured that this decision will not diminish my love, respect and admiration of each you”.
She said she prayed that both sides “somehow, someway can all work together in the interest and love for our blessed country”.
McLaughlin, responding to Rankine’s departure from the Progressives camp, said, “Once it was clear that we could not form the government, he had to honour his campaign pledge to be part of the government. He has gone with our blessings.”
He added that he was not aware if O’Connor-Connolly had resigned from the Progressives party.
Neither Rankine nor O’Connor-Connolly could be reached for comment this morning.
New Panton Government :
- Premier – G. Wayne Panton, MP Elect, Newlands
- Deputy Premier – Christopher Saunders, MP Elect, Bodden Town West
- Kenneth V. Bryan, MP Elect, George Town Central
- McKeeva Bush, MP Elect, West Bay West
- Sabrina Turner, MP Elect, Prospect
- André M. Ebanks, MP Elect, West Bay South
- Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, MP Elect, West Bay Central
- Johany S. ‘Jay’ Ebanks, MP Elect, North Side
- Bernie A. Bush, MP Elect, West Bay North
- Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, MP Elect, Cayman Brac East
- Heather Bodden, MP Elect, Savannah
- Isaac Rankine, MP Elect, East End
Compass journalist James Whittaker contributed to this report.