The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has complained of a “reprehensible” trend of a lack of media coverage it views as part of concerted efforts to muzzle the party.
As the party declared it has appointed new spokespersons, the’s DLP first vice-president Irene Sandiford-Garner told journalists certain media outlets were not covering DLP events.
She did not reveal names of media entities guilty of snubbing the party nor did she identify the new spokespersons.
The former senator also took issue with the state of political discourse, arguing that there is evidence of attempts to suppress freedom of association.
Sandiford-Garner said: “There are times where I have invited every single member of the media and as a former journalist, I find it reprehensible that there are certain sectors of the media who refuse to attend press conferences or any media events by the DLP.
“In a democratic society it is dangerous because every single political party should have a voice and it is not up to the media to determine who has a voice and who does not have a voice. Sometimes our own families tell us that they are not hearing us, but they are not hearing us because we are being filtered or not covered at all.”
But Sandiford-Garner’s comments closely mirrored the charge made against the DLP administration last year by the Barbados Labour Party, then in opposition, which had accused the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation of refusing to cover their events, even when they were being paid to do so.
Sandiford-Garner said the DLP, which was ousted from power last May by the BLP, was not about to be muzzled as it still had a duty to the 35,000 people who voted for them in the last election.
“This party is the only credible entity in Barbados that has the opportunity to regroup and lead this country again or at least to have an opposing voice. The so-called Opposition in the House of Assembly ran on a Barbados Labour Party ticket,” she said.
Adding to her concerns about limited coverage, Sandiford-Garner suggested that DLP members were under threat because of their affiliation. She made reference to recent comments from Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn during a sitting of the Upper House, as proof of this threat.
“The other day Caswell Franklyn said that you have to weed out Dems from the civil service. This was a most vile and reprehensible statement, which I have not seen any person address in a democratic society.
“We have to be very wary of those statements and I would wish Caswell Franklyn would come out and defend that statement because he is a union leader.”
But in a sharply-worded response, Senator Franklyn accused Sandiford-Garner of taking his words out of context in an attempt to grab headlines.
He told Barbados TODAY that at the time he was referring to remnants of the DLP political appointees still within the system who he said were sabotaging the efforts of the BLP administration.
“This woman wants to be noticed and I am not prepared to notice her. She wants to be relevant and I am not going to be the vehicle to make her relevant.
“What I said [at the time in question] was that there were DLP operatives in the public service that are frustrating the processes of this current Government. These people are actually going out of their way to make things difficult.
“So, [the DLP] can say what they like but I can give examples of operatives who have attempted to sabotage the Government.”
He did not provide names.