Retired High Court judge Herbert Volney has hit out as “idiots” detractors who see a political agenda in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s offer of refuge for Dominican hurricane victims.
Public comments that the humanitarian offer is skewed and the real agenda is to “voter pad” for elections provoked a tongue lashing from Volney, who was born in Dominica. The island was battered by category five Hurricane Maria last week.
On Thursday, Rowley appealed to Trinidadians and Tobagonians, who can, to open their homes to Dominicans for at least six months. He has promised to lift immigration restrictions. Offers have also come from the Ministry of Education to make available places for children in the local education system.
Volney, a former justice minister under the People’s Partnership administration, in a social media post criticised those who are against Dominicans coming here.
“The Prime Minister was magnanimous in his offer, one that had no cost to taxpayers. Rather than look to the good in it, you’ve peddled only hatred towards Dominicans. Padding the electoral list? That’s the thinking of idiocy,” he wrote on his facebook page.
“The ones who have expressed their meanest are not the ones with anything to offer Dominicans post Hurricane Maria.”
The former St Joseph MP said Dominicans do not usually come to Trinidad except to attend the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. “They go to the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom. The only Dominicans who will likely come to Trinidad, will be persons like my brother who will stay at my home and return to their homeland once the comforts of life return,” Volney wrote.
Volney, who has two brothers and their wives on the island, boasted, “Dominica’s budget is in surplus. Dominica has as high a standard of secondary school education as Trinidad and Tobago. Why would any Dominican want to over stay their time? Answer me.”
Volney said he is shocked at the level of ignorance being displayed by some citizens who are mixing up Dominica with the Dominican Republic.
“Dominica became independent in the Commonwealth in 1978 and was given the new name of Commonwealth of Dominica. All its institutions are modelled on the English Westminster type of government. English is the language. Dominica has a population of 73,000 persons and is located in the Eastern Caribbean between the French Dependencies of Guadeloupe and Martinique. It’s currency is the EC dollar. Eighty percent of Dominicans are listed as Catholics. Dominicans do not speak Spanish. The women of Dominica are not found in Villa Capri. Please show some more respect for your fellow Caricom nationals especially in this time of catastrophe and need.”
Amid reports of looting and starving survivors, Volney is co-ordinating a relief effort titled - We the People, All shall eat - and has asked the public to donate items such as tarpaulins, baby formula, pampers, Crix and canned foods.
CNC 3 journalist Khamal Ethan Georges, a Dominican, has also reacted on social media citing biblical quotations for all the hatred being spewed.
“Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me. For all the hatred being spewed, have a heart,” Georges said.
On Friday, Maha Sabha secretary general Sat Maharaj criticised Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley decision to waive immigration rules for six months to Dominicans and allow them to stay in TT. Maharaj said TT could not afford to take in any new refugees, adding many citizens who were affected by Tropical Storm Bret in June are still waiting for relief aid.