Senator Lisa Cummins has apologized for her appearance in the Senate on Wednesday which led to the walkout of several of her colleagues.
And one of the key players in the protest, Senator Caswell Franklyn, has praised her for her apology, saying that she has “earned” his respect.
Senator Cummins, the newly minted Minister of Tourism and International Transport, was among several Government officials and journalists who were advised to self-isolate after attending last Thursday’s welcoming ceremony for 95 nurses from Ghana at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Nine of the nurses tested positive for COVID-19 at the weekend.
During Wednesday’s sitting of the Senate, Senator Franklyn along with Senators Crystal Drakes, Monique Taitt, Lindell Nurse, and Dr Christopher Maynard walked out after it was announced that she would be allowed into the Upper Chamber. She was cleared to return by the Chief Medical Officer after testing negative for the virus.
And while Senator Cummins initially defended her decision to be present for a vote on the Integrity in Public Life Bill, on Friday she made a two-minute video in which she apologized for her actions.
She said: “Within the last few days a number of people have expressed concerns about my appearance in the Senate on Wednesday. I was instructed by health authorities to self-monitor for a period of seven days and on Tuesday morning I received a call from health officials instructing me to take a COVID test.
“On Wednesday morning just after 5 a.m. I received the results of those tests and I was advised at the time that I was COVID negative and I was not infectious,” Cummins recalled.
“COVID-19, as all of us, certainly especially those of us in policymaking and who have interacted with this in any way, shape, or form over the last few months, has been a global pandemic that has resulted in anxiety, fears, concerns and genuine discomfort for many people the world over and Barbados has been no different.
“To that extent, I am comfortable that it is the right thing to do to apologize.
“I’ve always prided myself on the ability to make proper decisions, measured choices, sensible choices that take into account not just myself but those around me and I wish that on this occasion I could have made a different decision. If I had to do it all over again I certainly would.”
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Senator Franklyn said he accepted her apology, saying he was glad to see that she had seen the “error” in her ways.
“She was clearly wrong and it was the honourable and decent thing to do and she did it and for that she will have my respect,” the outspoken Senator said.
“Well she didn’t lose it but I was just angry that she thought she could come among us at a time like this. I am scared as hell to catch this thing and when I saw her coming in there I was angry, hurt, everything. But it is done and we can move on from here.”
The walkout contributed to the bill being defeated and Senator Cummins said she was disappointed at that result.
She said: “I wish also to say that the Integrity Bill is perhaps one of the most important pieces of legislation that we had before us.
“Long before I even came to Government, integrity in public life was one of the key things that I spent a lot of time and effort and resources on because I believe in it.
“I believe it is important to who we are as a people, I believe it is important to Barbados and I am deeply disappointed that we were unable to get the support of everyone around this important piece of legislation.
“We’ve invested a significant amount of time in consultations and in resources to ensure that we had the best piece of legislation that covers all aspects of integrity in public life.
“I remain committed to ensuring that this piece of legislation becomes a part of the Government’s arsenal to ensure that we protect the people of Barbados.
“But that’s not what this is about. This is about assuring that even in our own affairs, even in our own actions that we ourselves practice integrity and do the right things for the right reasons at all times and so without hesitation I wish to say, ‘I apologize’.