House Speaker: “Let’s Not Go Down There Again’

May 18, 2019

After MP Rolfe Commissiong tried to repeat his comments that Sir John Swan was ‘tap dancing’, Speaker of the House Dennis Lister interrupted him saying “let’s not go down there again”, adding that maybe he was “wrong last week for letting you go as far as you did go.”

During the previous week in Parliament, Mr Commissiong had said that former Premier Sir John Swan was “83 years old but you’re still doing the tap dance for the most reactionary, racist elements in Bermuda’s society,” which followed after Sir John made comments to the broadcast media, including one about welcoming white foreigners.

Audio of Mr Commissiong’s original comments made last week about Sir John Swan:

Last night in the House, Opposition MP Michael Dunkley said, “I’m not standing here defending Sir John Swan, he can do it himself. I’m standing here to say, I appreciate the Honourable Member who likes to speak to these issues, but let’s remember, take it out of the personal attacks. Let’s show some respect.”

Mr Commissiong then said, “I will only say this, and I will repeat what I have said, that Sir John Swan tap danced for the most reactionary…”

He was then interrupted by the Speaker, who said, “Take your seat a minute. You know what, maybe I was wrong last week for letting you go as far as you did go. Maybe I was wrong, so I’m going to state that publicly.

“But let’s not go down there again, taking out somebody who has given a lot for this country, whether we agree with his politics or not, that’s not for us to take on at this time.

“One day, hopefully, we’re going to be that 83 year old guy who has given a lot of time to this country, and we would like to know that we’ve set an example how we want people to respect us after we have served our time.”

Mr Commissiong replied, “Sir John Swan did not give any respect to black Bermudians in his comments on two occasions.”

He added, “When you have a man such as Sir John Swan get on TV and say ‘well the white people in Bermuda weren’t that bad, they never lynched us.’ Do you agree with that Member from #10 [which is Mr Dunkley].

The MP was then interrupted again by the Speaker, who said,  “I am trying to give you some latitude, but I already set a guideline before I let you get back on your feet. I’m asking you to respect the guideline without me having to get involved again.”

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