Monday 21 May, 2018

Government Distances Itself From Michael Chastanet's Comments

Michael Chastanet, father of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, appears to have put his son and by extension the Government of St. Lucia in an uncomfortable position following certain comments he made on his talk show ‘Open Mike’ last Sunday about Father Kelvin Murray, a Catholic priest based in Vieux Fort.

Now the Government is distancing itself from those remarks as was evident today by a statement issued by Nicole Mc Donald, Senior Communications Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister.

“It has been brought to our attention that certain remarks were recently made by a television host with reference to a member of the clergy. The Government of St. Lucia wishes to state that the comments are not indicative of our position or philosophy,” Nicole said.

Chastanet called on Father Murray to “go back to America and take care of your country where the slogan is Black Lives Matter.”

Chastanet went on to say on his talk show that Father Murray is a foreign national who was brought to St. Lucia to represent the Church not to participate in demonstrations.

“Father Murray, let me say to you that some time ago Sir John Compton passed legislation, the David England Act, for interference into this country. You are a foreign national….

The outburst by Chastanet senior stems from reports that the priest has been engaged in demonstrations planned by the Vieux Fort Coalition of Concerned Citizens (VFCCC), which two Sundays ago held a march in the southern town protesting certain aspects of a $2.6 billion investment plan proposed for the area.

Efforts to contact Father Murray to clarify his participation in those demonstrations were futile.

McDonald confirmed that the legislation referred to by Chastanet senior was revoked in 1997 and that the comments made by Chastanet senior “were invalid in more ways than one and in no way represents the government’s position.”

“The government has at all times maintained that ours is a free and democratic country and all are entitled to free speech in accordance with our laws.” McDonald said.

“As is evident by the government’s actions since taking office we have continuously engaged in openness and dialogue with stakeholders and interest groups on issues of common concern. We welcome continued discussions from the public on all matters of development,” she added.