Member of Parliament (MP) for Portland Eastern Ann-Marie Vaz has hit back at Opposition Leader Mark Golding who earlier this week levelled criticisms at her for reportedly failing to comment on the increase in the number of murders that have occurred in the parish since January.
Portland recorded 10 murders last year and 11 since the start of the year.
On Wednesday, Golding told party members and supporters at a People’s National Party (PNP) divisional conference in Port Antonio, that Portlanders have become fearful since the increase in murders in the relatively peaceful north-eastern parish.
He said despite this, Vaz has remained silent.
But in a news release sent to the media this morning, the MP hit back, calling Golding ‘desperate’.
Vaz said the loss of any life is of great concern to her and that since being elected MP she has been in constant dialogue with residents and the Jamaica Constabulary Force to ensure that “peace prevails in the parish”.
She said: “A percentage increase analysis would suggest widespread lawlessness in the parish of Portland. However, this is because we are generally peaceful people with a record of low crime. So one murder would equate to a 25 per cent increase. The 11 murders so far this year across the entire parish of Portland is the third lowest in Jamaica and we still think it is too high.”
Vaz argued that Golding is Member of Parliament for a “PNP political garrison that is a central part of the division which sits at the top of the crime statistics for murder, shootings and other violent crimes”.
The MP urged Golding not to use “commentary on the longstanding national problem of criminality as a springboard to scratch for relevance and [to] revive his dismal political fortunes”.
According to the MP, the JCF’s St Andrew South Division — in which Golding’s constituency falls — has recorded 92 murders so far this year.
She said that this is “800 per cent more murders when compared to East and West Portland”.