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BARRY PADARATH

Watch out, the United National Congress’ “Pepper Mouth MP” is back.

And even before he lands today, Barry Padarath came out swinging at the People’s National Movement Government on how they’ve handled the issue of stranded nationals abroad.

Padarath is expected home today after he left Florida yesterday.

Around 11 am yesterday, Padarath told the T&T Guardian he was on the plane. Padarath, who’s been in Florida since March when T&T’s borders closed, said he was overnighting in Antigua and was due home today via a charter flight.

Accompanying him is his infant daughter Sejal, a US citizen. He’s accepted the Government’s offer for them both to be quarantined under state-supervision at a hotel at his cost.

On finally being able to return home, Padarath said, “It’s a bittersweet feeling as I return since many Trinis from around the world have been reaching out to me as far as Qatar and as close by as Barbados. The plight of our citizens caught outside the border without the means to sustain themselves and their families is heartbreaking,’’ he said.

“The biggest challenge for many is Government’s lack of responsiveness and support. Persons have complained about no response from the ministry, embassies and other agencies. They’ve complained about no channels to send urgent requests for exemptions in situations regarding life and death. Plus no socio-economic support for persons having to resort to staying in homeless shelters et cetera,” Padarath said.

“Health officials continue to advise that our borders should remain closed to mitigate additional cases and I accept that advice. However, much more needs to be done to help citizens. There’s too much talk and posturing by the Government instead of relief and support.”

He said his first action after quarantine is holding an interfaith service with religious leaders in his constituency to give thanks and praise.

Padarath, who’s been holding virtual meetings with his campaign team, added, “I’ve been walking my constituency all term and I’ve been one of the most visible, outspoken MPs. Therefore, I’ve done my homework in terms of keeping a close relationship with constituents.

“I’ve rallied the troops, I ensured that in Princes Town our house was in order for a general election a long time ago, we’re also prepared to assist in other constituencies. As you recall, I was the UNC’s coordinator for the 2018 Barataria by-election—I have a proven track record.”

Padarath said he was also happy to be bringing home with him a young family who has a newborn.

“The couple reached out to me after being granted their exemptions and I was able to assist them with returning. Their story is one of resilience and faith…COVID-19 has reminded us to be our brother and sister’s keeper. I wish I was in the position to help many more,” Padarath said.

Welcoming him home, his Princes Town constituency executive, headed by Gowrie Roopnarine, yesterday said, “Mr Padarath remains highly-favoured among constituents. Better known in the Princes Town constituency as ‘the Pepper Mouth MP’, Padarath continues to demonstrate his competence and ability to represent, voicing the many concerns of his constituents inside and outside of the Parliament, whether it be lobbying for schools to be constructed or even for constituents who’ve been without pipeborne water for months.” (GA)