In a speech before Parliament yesterday, the Minister of Justice questioned whether an unnamed MP had accepted “special tokens of gratitude” in exchange for granting citizenship to asylum seekers. In a Facebook post later that day, the Minister of Justice stated that he had been “wrong to cite rumours” before Parliament and that such a thing had not been his wont in the past.
The minister apologises
In a speech before Parliament yesterday, Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson made an oblique reference to a rumour that an MP had voted on citizenship applications for individuals for whom the MP had lobbied.
“Was it possible that someone had come to the table having previously been engaged in promoting the interests of asylum seekers who were being granted citizenship? Have people been awarded any special tokens of gratitude for having granted citizenship? These are, perhaps, questions that call for a review by the committee so as to determine whether any such rumours are substantiated,” Jón said in his speech.
Members of the opposition did not respond kindly to this accusation; Helga Vala, MP for the Social Democratic Alliance, was the first to respond to Jón’s statements:
“This is such an abomination, I’m so fed up with this. I’m so fed up with this slander from members of parliament and ministers of the Independence Party, that I just wish that the speaker would intervene whenever they show up armed with lies. I’ve had enough. Try to exercise some control please,” Helga Vala asked of the speaker.
A statement on Facebook
Yesterday evening, Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson published a post on Facebook admitting that it had “not been right of him” to refer to a rumour on the floor of Parliament. He stated that it did not occur to him that he was accusing anyone of having accepted bribes and that it was not his intention of accusing MPs of accepting bribes in any way.
Bryndís Haraldsdóttir, Member of Parliament for the Independence Party and Chair of the National Defense and Education Committee, told RÚV that the minister’s words before parliament were not worthy of him. “I think he went a little too far in this regard, and he apologised for that, and I think he’s a better man for it,” Bryndís remarked.
Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir, MP for the Pirate Party, disagreed with her colleague’s assessment vis-a-vis that Jón had apologised. “He did not apologise … he’s simply trying to divert the attention of the media and the public from the fact that the Directorate of Immigration had been prevented from handing over documents to the committee.”