News
January 29, 2010
Francis refutes allegations that he defied police orders

Former Minister of Housing Julian Francis has refuted allegations that he defied police orders at Monday’s picketing of the Budget debate.{{more}}

Francis, who is General Secretary of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) and who has been charged with the responsibility of getting the party ready for a soon to come general elections, believes that the outrage is more about him being on the battleground than him relocating police barriers.

“When I was a minister I had to keep my mouth shut and can’t say certain things, but I am not a minister anymore,” Francis told We FM’s Ernesto Cooke, in a radio interview on Tuesday, a day after the incident.

“What is upsetting them is the fact that Julian Francis is back to organize the party, and that’s what they fear most.”

Reports had swirled that on the previous day, during the picketing of Parliament by supporters of both the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the ULP, Francis removed a number of cones to allow ULP supporters to congregate in an area where they were prohibited.

Francis denied this happened, stating that he was just going according to what he was permitted to do.

“The letter of permission that I got from the Commissioner of Police said to me that the supporters of the ULP will occupy the sidewalk on the northern said of the street. That, I take it, is from White Chapel Road to the road going into Paul’s Lot,” he explained.

“Over on the sidewalk where we were, if you had six feet in some areas that was plenty.”

“So when I came down about four o’clock, I found all the ULP supporters huddled up and we had about 60 to 70 placards and you couldn’t see the placards.”

Francis said that he told the supporters to move further down the sidewalk and occupy the space that was there for them, providing that they did not block the entrance to parliament.

“In moving over, two of the cones got knocked over; so I bent over and picked them up and put them right by the gate and I said you all are not to come in between these cones. You cannot block the gate.”

According to Francis, his party had peaked to about 350 supporters, who would not have been able to occupy the space where they had originally assembled.

He noted that the supporters of the NDP, who, by SEARCHLIGHT’s count, outnumbered those of the ULP, were standing behind barricades on the opposite side of Halifax Street, had the entire East/West length of the Kingstown Central Market to display their placards.

Apart from numerous insults hurled across the street from either side, mixed with religious and other songs being sung and chanted to the benefit of each side’s cause, Monday’s event, though loud, went without any major incidents.

Party supporters assembled from about 2 pm on Monday afternoon until the budget session came to a close shortly after eight that night.

“The NDP has this way of building up these things, but you know what got them annoyed…its when 12 to 14 A’ level students came on the picket line with the ULP in their uniforms.

“From the time the students got there, they got into a rage. They hurled insults at the students and the students said to them ‘This is the only government that looking after the interest of education in this country,’ and that upset the NDP.”

“I don’t know where this thing come from about I defied police.”