T&T minister apologises over child-of-rape remark

(Trinidad Express) In response to widespread condemnation over her contribution in Parliament on Wednesday in which she decried Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley as a child of rape, Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin yesterday issued a release in which she apologised for some of the things she said. However, she insisted that Dr Rowley still had questions to answer.

Following is the statement issued by the Ministry:

Vernella Alleyne-Toppin
Vernella Alleyne-Toppin

Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin is today apologising to the citizens of Trinidad & Tobago for parts of her statements made in Parliament on Wednesday. During her contribution on the motion of no confidence on the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Keith Rowley, Toppin related a story of a young girl who was sexually assaulted many years ago in Tobago.

In a statement issued today, Toppin said: “I unreservedly apologise to everyone who felt uncomfortable or outraged because of parts of the statement I made in Parliament. At no time was I intending to cause pain or suffering, or to cause people to reopen old wounds of trauma they may have at some time experienced.”

Toppin stated: “I do, however, hold firmly to the view that incidents such as these, happening in our own country, must never be swept under the carpet. As difficult as it is, these are conversations we must be having as a people, if we are to protect young girls from experiencing this kind of horrific violation.”

The Minister also stated: “And while I apologise from the heart to anyone who felt hurt by my statements, I intend to stand my ground and will insist that questions that have been asked of the Leader of the Opposition must be answered. Anyone who seeks to hold the top office of Prime Minister must not have such questions that are unanswered, as it questions the depth of character and the emotional intelligence that will influence this person’s decisions that will impact on 1.3 million people.”

Minister Toppin reminded: “Questions that Dr Rowley must answer include the paternity of a young man who was the product of a relationship out of wedlock. Questions include whether Dr Rowley is the grandfather of one, or in fact two young children.”

“Questions include whether Dr Rowley knows of any school teacher who was a tenant in Charlotteville? Was he a tenant?

Was he boarding (getting meals) by Ms Gray? Was Ms Gray sending her niece to drop meals?” “I will not allow Dr Rowley to use public outrage to hide from the duty he has to answer these questions and put deep and frightening suspicions to rest once and for all,” Toppin said.

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