Communication Minister Donna Cox’s eyes welled up with tears when she visited embattled PNM MP Marlene McDonald yesterday at St Joseph Police station and prayed with McDonald.
“I couldn’t help it, the tears just came up, but I didn’t want her to see that so I tried to keep it together,” Cox added.
Cox visited during McDonald’s fourth day in police custody. McDonald was arrested her St Joseph home last Thursday. This, following police probe concerning McDonald and her common-law husband Michael Carew regarding alleged misappropriation of funds.
Several other people were subsequently arrested including a former permanent secretary. One person, who was in Tobago, was held when he arrived at the Piarco Airport. McDonald’s colleagues have rallied around her, expressing concern for her health and Opposition colleagues have also warned supporters not to gloat or criticise her.
Cox said: “She had other visitors in recent days, but I went yesterday because at the end of the day, she’s a colleagues and we care about her and we wanted her to know that. It has nothing to do with someone being innocent or guilty, it still involves a human being. We have an active Women’s League and we’re being there for her.”
“As part of the PNM , we’re supposed to rally around colleagues and I’m proud of my other colleagues who’ve also been visiting and checking.”
Cox said McDonald was dressed in a pantsuit and was in good spirits when she saw her.
“I got there around midday and we spent almost 90 minutes together. She looked well, her face wasn’t stressed or so. She’s also in good health so far. They were taking care of her very well. We talked about some work related issues . But I also held on to her and prayed with her . As I left I told her to, trust in the Lord.”
Port-of-Spain South colleagues, who carried food for McDonald on Saturday, said they noted police were treating her “really well.”
UNC MP Barry Padarath quipped yesterday: “The way I know Marlene, I really hope someone brought Sunday lunch for her.”
He said Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s comments on McDonald have changed from what Rowley said initially (after he reappointed her a minister in 2018) to a different position in recent days.
In Parliament in 2018 after her reappointment then, Padarath asked Rowley if McDonald was cleared by the Integrity Commission and/or police of all wrong doing.
Rowley had said he made Cabinet appointments and didn’t depend on a commission letter—but he didn’t respond regarding the police.
Then, Padarath had noted Rowley removed McDonald in 2016 because of a commission probe into allegations of misbehaviour in public office and a police probe. Padarath at that time said Rowley’s rational for continuous hiring/firing/rehiring of McDonald was inconsistent.
Yesterday, Padarath added: “He’s boasted he ran a corruption-free Government, yet his deputy leader’s in this situation and he hasn’t answered questions on other ministers: where’s the report on Darryl Smith and the ministry’s payout to an ex-female employee? Camille Robinson-Regis’ bank deposit, the St Clair property rented by Government. Plus several ministers who didn’t file Integrity Commission submissions.”