The bitter war between General Secretary of the People’s National (PNP) Party Paul Burke and the former Region One chairman in the PNP hierarchy, Lisa Hanna, has picked up steam, with comments made on the public airwaves yesterday by the latter.
Yesterday, Hanna, among other claims, publicly admitted that the relationship between her and PNP President Portia Simpson Miller has become strained.
She said during an interview on Nationwide radio that a controversial outburst from Simpson Miller in Claremont, St Ann, during the lead-up to Monday’s local government elections contributed to the party losing support and votes.
“Her comments were disappointing to me, and from what I picked up on the ground, to many of the residents in South East St Ann,” Hanna said on air.
“[Simpson Miller] has said that she regretted them, but I also believe that they had an impact on getting PNP voters to come out and vote for the PNP candidates,” she added.
But, shocked that Hanna would publicly make such a statement, Burke has said that her comments should be brought to the party’s attention for further determination and action.
“She said that publicly?” the general secretary asked after Hanna’s comments were brought to his attention shortly after arriving from Cuba, where he was part of a delegation attending the thanksgiving service for that nation’s late former president, Fidel Castro.
Said Burke: “It is a matter the party has to address as to whether people can go and comment on such a thing publicly when the first thing you needed to have done is report it internally.”
It is not the first time that Burke has taken issue with PNP members publicly criticising the party and its president.
The issue previously came up when he threatened to drag Region Six Chairman Ian Hayles before the PNP’s disciplinary committee after he publicly criticised members of the party’s hierarchy.
Burke has not only taken issue with Hanna’s comment about the influence of Simpson Miller, but has also accused her of being a stranger to the truth.
He was responding to her claim, also on air, that she was ignored after seeking the intervention of the party secretariat months ago to politically rescue the parish of St Ann as it was in danger of falling to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
“I told the secretariat several times – verbally and in writing – that there was a building up of resentment, which could result in Moneague, in particular, going to the JLP, and they disregarded me every time I raised it,” Hanna said, claiming that Simpson Miller also ignored her appeal for intervention.
“She is lying if she said the issues were ignored,” said Burke.
He said that the party intervened in the parish and even had sessions of mediation where necessary.
He said the reason the Moneague division, located in Hanna’s South East St Ann constituency, fell to the JLP was because, “powerful members in the People’s National Party went out and supported the independent candidate who, up to two weeks ago, was a member of the executive of South East St Ann”.