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Minister: There was no physical activity between me and anybody

Minister: There was no physical activity between me and anybody

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Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture Cecil McKie has denied allegations published in the print media last week that he clashed with security officials during the recent staging of the One Day Internationals between West Indies and Australia at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.{{more}}

Speaking to members of the media on Tuesday, March 27, McKie said that he was “cheeked off” at the gate by the security officials.

The article which appeared in the press alleged that McKie, Minister of Health Clayton Burgin, and Director of Grenadines Affairs Edwin Snagg abused security guards as they attempted to enter sections of the Arnos Vale Playing Field.

According to the report, witnesses stated that McKie, Burgin and Snagg resisted attempts by security officials to scan them and that Burgin and McKie became angry when asked to present their tickets or passes.

McKie and Burgin were quoted as asking the security officials “You know who I am?.” The report also said that Burgin used insults towards the official.

But McKie, on Tuesday, said that the stories carried in the two newspapers were quite similar and that the same inaccuracies appeared in both.

The first inaccuracy, according to McKie, was that there was an incident during the first ODI which was played on Friday, March 16.

“The challenge I think came about on the Sunday,” he said, adding that he was attempting to gain entry into the Eastern Caribbean Group Of Companies (ECGC) box in the P.H Veira stand, to which he was invited by members of the management team of that company.

McKie explained that he asked the individuals at the gate why they were preventing the Minister of Sports from going to the ECGC booth and that he was invited.

He further contended that the ECGC manager himself intervened and informed the cricketing officials that he did invite the Minister to come up to the booth, but he, too, was ignored.

According to McKie, he never refused to be scanned, simply because he was never asked to in the first place, and that he never said “Do you know who I am”, but that as the Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture, who would have put in a lot of work to host the games, if that did not warrant the Minister access to enter and greet the people.

The Tourism, Sports and Culture Minister told members of the media that he went peacefully to the gate and explained that he wanted to proceed to the ECGC booth.

“There was no physical activity between me and anybody,” McKie said, adding that he went to the gate alone and not in the company of other people as the article stated.

Snagg, when contacted, also refuted the allegations, saying that he never refused to be searched or scanned.

In fact, he told SEARCHLIGHT that he was not scanned on his way to the ECGC booth on Tuesday for the staging of the third ODI.

“I was disappointed with the story and think that as responsible persons in journalism and you publishing statements like that there should have been an attempt to contact me to get my version of the issue before publishing such a thing,” Snagg said.

When contacted, Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment Clayton Burgin, declined to comment.

Meanwhile, McKie said that it was unfortunate that such an incident should have taken place.

“Our officials need to be taken care of,” he said.

“We should not have to be placed in that kind of embarrassing situation.”

He said after making a complaint to the West Indies Cricket Board officials, he was later issued a pass that allowed him to go anywhere in the vicinity of the Arnos Vale facility, but even without the pass, he was allowed to move freely during the third ODI on Tuesday, March 20.

“Why wasn’t that privilege afforded before this incident and why do we have to use such an incident?” he questioned.

McKie used the opportunity to make a call for better protocol, saying that only three members of Government received letters of invitation to the VIP lounge, while the others simply got passes from ECGC and not from the Cricket Association.

“That again is not right. There is the VIP lounge and there are government ministers who put in so much to hosting games, they should be invited to come to the VIP booth,” McKie said.

According to McKie, it was a coordinated effort between various ministries to get the Arnos Vale cricketing facility ready for the three ODIs, and all associations should show appreciation to government officials for the hard work put in for the staging of events such as international cricket.

He further contended that had he gone to St Lucia for the remaining two ODIs as the Vincentian Minister of Sport, he would have been afforded all the relevant protocols.

“If that is the case, why is that same protocol is not extended to the Minister of Sport who also happens to be the Minister of Tourism here in St Vincent and the Grenadines?”

McKie explained the functions of security personnel, saying that among their duties are those of ensuring law and order and to ensure that people do not abuse their tickets and take up people’s seats at pavilions they were not designated to.

“I don’t think it can be argued that the Minister of Sport and Tourism would have gone and taken someone else’s seat,” he told members of the media.

He further explained that he thought people knew him not to be the sort of person who would pull rank.

“I’ve contributed to the making of the Arnos Vale Playing Field. I operated the score board with AVESCO for donkey years, and never for all those years was I denied entry, more so now,” McKie said. (DD)

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