Shame on you!
Senator Reginald Hunte today came out strongly against media reports that a woman appeared at a political meeting and declared herself cut off from welfare, penniless and forced to scrounge for food.
Contributing to the Senate debate on the 2015 Estimates of Income and Expenditure, Hunte condemned the reports as “‘ridiculous” and said that the woman was being used by politicians.
“When politicians use innocent persons for PR purposes to belittle them and hold them up to public ridicule, particularly if they have children, I cry shame of them,” he said. “I hate it. No matter what side of the political side you on, people should not be held up to that public ridicule.”
The woman in question, Cathy-ann Springer, turned up at a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) public meeting Sunday, and according to BLP former MP, Reverend Joseph Atherley, “She was invited here by somebody else who knows her plight,” and “passed a note to him”.
Atherley invited her to the podium to tell her story.
Springer, a mother of two school-aged children, said that because of the welfare cut, “they got me picking up garbage out of the garbage can, eating it, me and my two children”.
But Hunte said in the Senate, “Now if you eat out of a garbage can, you must be eating garbage. I think that is ridiculous . . . and shameful of any politician who can do that to any member of the public for political purposes in a country like Barbados. What message are you sending?”.
He defended the work of the Welfare Department and gave examples of its coverage of the needs of people over the years.
“There was always a Welfare Department because there are some people who will work, and there are some people who don’t intend to work, no matter what,” he said.
Hunte spoke of the Welfare Department spending money to give comfort.
“It’s clear that it wouldn’t go forever. When you find yourself in a better position, you get a job . . . it wasn’t supposed to be until Jesus come.”
The Senator said the island had always had persons in need.
“Barbados, regardless if you talk about deficits or otherwise, Barbados is the progressive Barbados. I know of no time in the history, either reading or in my lifetime, that you never had people who are going through difficulties, no matter who else may be prospering”.