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Dr Gonsalves flown to Barbados for MRI scan

Gonsalves injured during protest

Dr Gonsalves flown to Barbados for MRI scan
Members of the Special Branch of the Royal SVG Police Force usher injured Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves to safety after he was struck on the head by a missile.

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had to be flown out to Barbados for an MRI last night after he was struck on his head around 5.15 p.m when a protest on the streets of Kingstown escalated yesterday.

Dr Gonsalves flown to Barbados for MRI scan
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on hospital bed after being hit on the head with a missile while returning to Parliament, yesterday.

The Prime Minister, with blood staining his white shirt, was taken by his security detail for treatment to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital for treatment.

The large crowd had blocked the entrance to the Parliament Building preventing the Prime Minister’s vehicle from entering the premises which resulted in him exiting his vehicle and attempting to make his way on foot to the House of Assembly for the resumption of yesterday’s sitting.

A release from the Office of the Prime Minister said he was struck “inches above the temple”.

At the hospital he was met by his wife, Eloise and his youngest son, Storm, was also seen on the premises.

Members of the Rapid Response Unit could be seen guarding the gates of the hospital yesterday evening, while the Prime Minister was being treated for his head wound.

The protest continued in front of the Parliament Building with persons drumming and blowing on horns.

Members of the Public Service Union, the SVG Teachers Union and supporters of the New Democratic Party were among the crowd of protesters outside the Parliament Building yesterday.

They were protesting against amendments that were to be made to the Public Health Act, which would ultimately see COVID19 vaccines becoming a requirement for front-line workers.

When the sitting of Parliament resumed, Members on the Government benches roundly condemned the attack on the Prime Minister and chastised the opposition for their failure to speak out against the attack.

“I don’t want to be here right now, but I was instructed to be here by my leader, who said that acts of intimidation cannot ever be seen to triumph over acts of democracy,” Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves, said as he stood to make a presentation on one of the bills tabled for debate.

The Finance Minister, who is also the Prime Minister’s son, noted that while Opposition Leader, Dr Godwin Friday said what happened was regrettable, some NDP supporters were beating “celebratory or intimidatory drums” and chanting “who want head buss? Ralphie head buss”.

“So, while it was regrettable, it was not so regrettable that the person who called them to action saw fit to tell them; ‘things have gotten out of hand, maybe it’s time you go home now’. And for the first time today, we have an almost full house in this House of Assembly. Before the attempt was made on the life of the Prime Minister, people were going out regularly to hype up their supporters. In and out. But when a projectile was thrown that struck the man inches from his temple, a man two days from his 75th birthday, all man jack stay inside now because pandora’s box has been open and they aren’t sure if they have the authority to put the genie back in the bottle,” Gonsalves said.

The Finance Minister also drew a comparison between yesterday’s events and the storming of the Capital in the US, saying that “you hear everything that you heard when Donald Trump called his supporters to storm the Capital and kill police officers. Is everybody fault but theirs”.

“I hear somebody say, it’s the Commissioner of Police fault. How you go make the Prime Minister come out of his vehicle. That’s where we reach. The same people who used to say, why is the Prime Minister driving around in this convoy of vehicles in this peaceful St Vincent and the Grenadines, this happy democracy. You don’t need all of that, he must go out and walk with the people. Now, he should not have been allowed to walk outside…”

Gonsalves said however, that he was happy that the opposition leader made a statement on the matter because despite his pleading and that of other members on the government’s side of the bench, none of the opposition members condemned the act until Friday arrived.

“Is only after leader of opposition said it’s regrettable that they find their tongue…how many times did they rise and sit before then and couldn’t bring themselves to say that bursting the head of the Prime Minister is a bad thing? Not a single soul was man enough to say that and they want to call themselves leaders, while they’re sitting here and hide from the

very crowd they called on the streets today”, Gonsalves said with passion.

The Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, at one point drew the House’s attention to small specks of blood on his shirt which he said belonged to the Prime Minister.

Tourism Minister, Carlos James was observed shedding tears while making his contribution to the debate of the Securities Bill (2021), which was successfully passed amidst the outrage expressed by parliamentarians on the act of violence against the Prime Minister.

The Finance Minister thanked the Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley for making the arrangements to get the PM flown to Barbados for further medical intervention.

And, he called on the assailant to get a lawyer and turn themselves in to the police as there is video footage of the attack on the Prime Minister.

He also called on supporters of the Unity Labour Party to refrain from taking any retaliatory action, noting that we are on a precipice and staring into an abyss but Vincentians are better than what was on display outside the Parliament building yesterday.

The Public Health Act, which was tabled by health minister, St Clair Prince, was being debated up to the time of going to press.

In his presentation, Prince said if the bill is passed, it will go a long way in “tidying up the Public Health Act”.

“Now that we have experienced a pandemic, we must consider whether it is reasonable for a citizen infected with a communicable disease to be exempted from treatment of that communicable disease on the ground of personal belief, when the entire community could be threatened by a communicable disease,” the health minister said.

“It is not an attack on the fundamental rights and freedoms of our people, as some opportunistic commentators will have us believe and it certainly does not violate freedom of conscience. On the contrary, it underpins our duty as a government to protect the wellbeing of our country.”