Minister denies family connections behind push for port

| 29/10/2015 | 93 Comments
Cayman News Service

Kirk Freeport closed on the day of the Save Cayman protest

(CNS): Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell has denied that his family connections have anything to do with the decision to press on with the port project, even though there are still many concerns and unanswered questions about the controversial proposal. Answering questions at a press conference about Cabinet’s approval for the cruise port to move forward, Kirkconnell, who is also the tourism minister, said he loved his family but he had no shares in the Kirk Freeport business and that government had been as transparent as possible over the project.

The minister also said that the port and the redevelopment of George Town would help all retail merchants and businesses in the capital and not just his family members.

Kirkconnell’s cousins are the owners of Kirk Freeport, which dominates the shopping in the downtown area of George Town. Gerry Kirkconnell, who is also deputy chair of the Port Authority Board is the managing director of Kirk Freeport. His son, Chris Kirkconnell, has been a leading spokesperson in the pro-port campaign and the business led the support during the public consultation period.

However, the tourism minister denied that this family connection had anything to do with driving the controversial cruise project forward, as he insisted that the government was acting in a very transparent and accountable way. The project, he said, would create more customers for all business in the capital.

However, the management and staff of Kirk Freeport dominated the responses in favour of the port during the public consultation period on the project, which came down three to one against the development of piers in the George Town harbour – a response that government has dismissed.

Almost three-quarters of the respondents who took part in the consultation on the proposal for the cruise facility were not in support but supporters for the project came mostly from staff working for the Kirkconnells. From 473 direct responses to the survey, only 111 individuals were in favour and around 80 of those said they were connected to Kirk Freeport.

Kirk Freeport dominates limited pier support

Several of those who submitted written responses were clerks and sales associates on work permits, who indicated that they hoped the piers would lead to an increase in their salaries or more commission on sales.

Talking about those who would benefit, Premier Alden McLaughlin pointed to hundreds of Caymanians whose jobs depended on cruise tourism and claimed those jobs would be saved and many more would be created. Nevertheless, during the public consultation period very few local workers voiced their support for the pier project, either at the public meeting held in George Town or in the survey.

However, the premier said that job creation was one of the driving forces behind government’s decision to press ahead with the cruise berthing facility.

“The Outline Business Case estimates that about 500 jobs would be made available during construction as the project would require administrative staff, labourers, divers, skilled tradesmen, project management, engineers, foremen and operators among other positions,” McLaughlin said. “This will mean real, tangible opportunities for Caymanian businesses, professionals and trades people to be involved in this historic and economically important project.”

The size of the project would also mean local businesses would benefit with increases in sales and revenues.

“At the end of construction, the port would have been built mainly by Caymanians for Caymanians and will be owned by Caymanians,” he said. However, he acknowledged that where local labour was not available there would be a need for guest workers, but he said that was also an opportunity for local businesses as they would also contribute to the economy for the time they are in Cayman.

“They will need places to rent, they will buy food and goods from grocery stores, restaurants and local merchants,” he said.

Once built, McLaughlin said more jobs would be created as he claimed there would be employment for about 1,000 people over the next 20 years.

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Comments (93)

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  1. Robert says:

    Do fish Fart ? and if so , where are all the bubbles /

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking of ‘passing wind’, the Jordanian accused Moses on the talk show of promoting the dock because of his family business……and I suppose Mac is therefore also a Kirkconnell because he too has repeatedly pushed for a cruise port expansion.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There has sure been a lot of cache refreshing going on.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Moses has been one of the most honest and trustworthy ministers for the last decade.
    Like any other minister he has family on island but so what. He had to do his job and he is not the first elected member to try to hukld the dock he just happens to be the only one to actually get it done.

    • Vote Kirky 2017 says:

      Where you see any dock? All I see are some expensive pretty pictures. The only way this happens is by selling out to those bastions of corporate social responsibility, the cruise lines. If I was Moses cousin that’s who I’d be talking to about now, trying to figure out how to keep my “skin in the game” when the silt finally settled.

  4. Allar says:

    This is the worst government in the history of these islands what a shame.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s pretty funny to hear all this kirkbot stuff. Going back to the original Compass Poll the pro port votes were up 300 vs 100 against. Within 40mins one morning all of a sudden 3000 votes showed up all at once against the dock. After that the votes started on both side but make no mistake the tampering started from the anti port side. I also have screen shots of Save Cayman people on Facebook talking about how to vote multiple times. Would be happy to share with CNS if they would like me to send them.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am laughing at you because I have been following these articles from before anybody commented on them and all the Kirbots (for the avoidance of doubt that’s Kirk pro-port cronies, and not those against the port) were clearly desperately using any device they could to try and up the vote count. So the SaveCayman people are talking about how you Kirkbots can do it, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander but always remember it was the goose first.

  6. Islandhonky says:

    I would be interested in a data review of the thumbs up and downs. Very interested.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ok..I hear ya.

    Folks, just imagine if Mac was still in power and his relatives were poised to be the primary benefactors of this ridiculous, destructive and imposing monstrosity we call CBF’s.
    (Goodness gracious, the UK would have shat a red mortar brick!) 😀

    I recall the accusations of Mac’s close ties with the Chinese when CHEC was the earmarked developer :-/
    (I guess McKeeva has some Asian blood we don’t know about.)

    I was against the CBF’s then (as was apparently the majority of the country), and I am against them now.

    – Whodatis

    • Anonymous says:

      That deal fell apart because the company went under investigation for corruption. It was even flagged by the World Bank as corrupt. Hence it was very suspicious that a leader accused of corruption for other dealings stopped a perfectly good CBF deal signed by Cline Glidden (which Cayman had to pay 6 million in resitution out of public coffers) and suddenly went with the Chinese, who were trying to build a casino on the new port, plus 100,000 sq ft of new stores. This plan has no new retail on it, simply a way for people to get ashore.

      • Anonymous says:

        The plan could include a thick hedge of money bearing trees – I still wouldn’t support it.

        As for CHEC / Chinese corruption; not only is the West’s ongoing warnings to and criticisms of countries’ entertainment of their proposals grossly hypocritical (consider the state of undeniably corrupt western-invested and western-dependent Africa over the past half century), it is primarily another tactic to stave off the inevitable progress of China as global superpower.

        Furthermore, did you seriously invoke the World Bank as a reputable regulator of global corruption? (There is not enough bandwidth in the world to address that issue.)

        The CBF issue is not political for me, but national. I do not support it.

        Lastly, as for avoidance of developers with (international) track records of corruption, immorality and illegalities – how are you enjoying those new roads leading to and fro West Bay? Will you stay at the nice new hotel being constructed but a stone’s throw from Public Beach? Will you attend (what used to be) our “local” restaurant showcase in a few weeks time? Bought any designer polo shirts or enjoyed a $16 glass of vino on the waterside sofas lately? Spoken to any struggling Argentinians and Greeks recently about where the first cuts of their taxes end up?

        Yeah…hopefully you’ve gotten it by now.

        – Whodatis

  8. Anonymous says:

    Moses Kirkconnell is the main person in PPM getting progress for the island. I get it that this is why there is an attack on him by others but hopefully most intelligent people read past these baseless garbage attempts to smear him for what they are. Pure Fiction.

    • Anonymous says:

      I voted C4C last time because I was fed up with UDP tactics and PPM not ever getting anything done. But I have to say I’ve very impressed with the PPM’s performance and will certainly be voting PPM in 2017.

      I can see why the opposition would be trying to discredit Minister Kirkconnell — since he’s getting so much accomplished.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been going crazy on google and wikipedia and somehow I can’t find the reference that shows that Moses Kirkconnell invented the cruise dock or holds the patent for dredging.

    Last time I checked this has been talked about for years and no Kirkconnell was involved in any dock planning. Chuckie has no relation, CG ran GLF talks and Mac was all about China. This is not something PPM invented and definitely not Moses.

  10. Anonymous says:

    In any other governmental situation this would be a horrible embarrassment and the Minister would step down from any involvement regarding the port. Of course this will not happen and a simple denial of reality will suffice.

    • Anonymous says:

      the dude puts up with alot bs, his party campaigned on building the dock and appointed him tourism minister. would a been alot easier to bow out with the excuse that some distant cousin owns a business [just like many, many other caymanians] that will do better if the dock is built. i give the guy alot of credit for doing the job he was elected to do.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Chris Kirkconnell is son of MD of Kirk Empire, and himself a VP of Operations for Kirks, lead advocate for Cayman Port and cargo facilities expansion. Gerry Kirkconnell is Deputy Director of Port Authority. They are all conflicted by their relation to Minister.

    • Anonymous says:

      The same argument was made against Al T as chairman of the planning board, because he owns the largest hardware and building material company on island, and would have an inside scoop on who to send proposals to.

      However, on an Island this small, there will always be some sort of family connection. But for the planning board, there is no one better to lead it than Al T. He has the most experience for this position than anyone else on the island, so it makes sense for him to be there. Would you rather someone who has little to no knowledge on this subject be the chairman? No, you want the best people with the most knowledge to be in these positions.

      The same can be said for Gerry. He has more experience than most, and is highly qualified to be on that board. So it makes sense that he is on the port authority board, and the Island is lucky to have him there and have him spend time helping. It is a privilege to be on these boards to share your knowledge and expertise on subjects.

      Secondly, there are checks and balances on everything and on all boards. There are many members on each board, that all are selected because of their respective expertise and they are there to hold each other member accountable. Woody Dacosta is also on the port authority board, anyone can ask him if he thinks Gerry should not be there.

      With how the FOI laws are nowadays, if there was any sort of true conflict going on, it would have been exposed by now. The truth is, there isn’t, but those in power always have targets and no project ever has 100 percent backing by all. So it is no surprise there is a minority who are trying to cause issues where there are none.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have another cup Kirkbot

      • Eyes Wide Shut says:

        Anti-corruption Law

        Hon Samuel Bulgin JP

        “Following the recent announcement from the office of His Excellency the Governor that the Anti-corruption Commission has been appointed, the office of the Attorney General wishes to now formally remind the public that the Anti-corruption Law is now in effect as of 1st January 2010.

        According to the Attorney General, the Law will have a very significant impact on not just public officials but also persons in the private sector and members of the general public that interface with public officials.

        The Attorney General is suggesting that everyone who does business with public bodies should acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Anti-corruption Law.

        According to the Attorney General the Law covers public offices from Justices of the Peace, to the Legislative Assembly and Cabinet. It also covers persons serving on all Statutory Board/Authorities, Tribunals and Commissions of Enquiry, as well as Jurors.

        The Law covers a range of offences from bribery of public officers and members of the Legislative Assembly, frauds on government, contractors subscribing to election fund, breach of trust by public officials and members of the Legislative Assembly, abuse of office, bribing foreign public officials, and conflict of interests among others.

        Of particular relevance to all public officers, especially to those who have volunteered to serve on Statutory Boards, Tribunals, etc., is the concept of “conflict of interest”, which is covered in the Law.

        The Law mandates that where a government entity of which a public officer or MLA is a member, director, or employee, proposes to deal with a company, partnership, etc., and where the public officer, MLA or a member of the family or an associate of such persons has any interests, direct or indirect, and holds more than ten per cent of the total issued share capital or total equity participation in such company or partnership or similar entity the public officer, or MLA shall forthwith make a written disclosure to the relevant government entity of the nature of such interest.

        Any public officer or MLA who fails to disclose an interest as stipulated by the Law and who proceeded to vote or otherwise takes part in the proceedings of the entity relating to such interest commits an offence and could face prison time of up to five years if convicted.

        The Attorney General suggests that in instances where public officers and others are in doubt it is advisable to seek legal advice or simply recuse themselves from the proceedings.

        The Attorney General is urging all relevant persons who will be impacted by this Law to acquire a copy of the Law and familiarise themselves with its provisions.

        The public authority charged with administering this Law will be the Anti-corruption Commission which in due course will be embarking on a public awareness campaign to sensitise the public more fully on the various provisions of the Law and the role of the Commission.”

        In case there was any doubt this should clarify what constitutes “conflicts of interests” for Public Officers.

        • Sheppy Brandon says:

          Anon 7;15 anon 7:15 Don’t you understand this does not apply to this UK puppet government. Isn’t it evident that is a UK tool that will only be used or exercised against those who threaten, oppose or fail to carry out their agenda.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t say!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Just because the piers are designed to look like the letter K should not mean anyone can infer any conflict..the giant statue of the tourism Minister that shall be placed above the terminal buildings is also not to be assumed part of any grand bargain…..equally, there is no truth to the rumor that an underwater glass tunnel will be built from beneath one leg of the K Pier and open out into the middle of the Bayshore Mall, that’s just idle gossip…..

    ..all i ask is they build the port/docks at least 20 ft higher than the road, because in about 100 yrs the island will mostly be under water so we;ll need somewhere to live…..why do people keep buying waterfront properties here? i want to live on top of the dump

    • Anonymous says:

      Very good you plan to be around in 100 years. Hopefully it’ll smell somewhat better on top of the dump by then.

  13. Anonymous says:

    1:26 pm.

    Where do you get your facts? Exactly which business has been bought out by Dart?

  14. Anonymous says:

    There is an undoubted conflict of interest. His statement basically admit this. Given this is the number 1 issue for the tourism minister at this time, the Minister should move to another post and absent himself from the decision making process. But did you know that there is no equivalent term for “conflict of interest” in the Cayman Dictionary?

    • Anonymous says:

      From what I read in the press release, it was a unanimous decision from cabinet. Debunks your theory. It means all were in support to move the process forward. Not just one person. The guys in cabinet all have big egos, they wouldn’t be bullied around.

      • Just Sayin' says:

        Read between the lines next time, ” everyone around the table” does not mean unanimous.

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually that’s precisely the definition of unanimous, everyone who was here, and able to vote. Get your facts and let us know who that includes. We all know. So stop your twisting and just swallow it, cuz I don’t pay you to spit.

          • Facto De Matta says:

            The support was not unanimous. You, I, Alden and a few others know that. Skipping a vote implies dissent. This pier will never happen. Get used to it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Whether or not the LA was unanimous, does not mean that all the people are. Referendum.

      • Anonymous says:

        A unanimous decision based on collusion, conspiracy and blackmail! How is it that not one member from either side of the house has the basic intestinal fortitude to come out and publicly defend this travesty? My guess is that they are terribly afraid of a public outing and, even worse, banishment from the lodge and even the homeland. I wonder how many lodge members have homes close to the Delta hub in Georgia. Bolt holes in other places to escape the public shaming when even one of these god fearing politicians speaks out.

      • Anonymous says:

        But where a party participating in the decision and central to recommendations has a blatant conflict of interest the entire process is tainted.

  15. Ron says:

    I thought kpmg indicated the dock was not economical viable? If so, how is this project good for Cayman and the transparency?

    • Anonymous says:

      Where have you been 1:27 for the last year? Did you not read the PWC report? Let me help you out PWC concluded it IS economically beneficial.

      • Anonymous says:

        Barely. And once the overrun costs and lower benefits are factored in it will be a huge disaster. See the schools. See the Turle Farm.

      • , says:

        You do know that these reports, no matter who commissions them, go through numerous rounds of edits and amends before they are approved for public consumption? The very reason for many monumental delays in government approving publication?

        And quite often other reports can be obtained that are damning. They don’t often see the light of day, don’t get published because they’re not being relied upon. Filed away and forgotten. A form of “cherry picking” if you like. Basic concept of expert engagement in many commercial and legal situations.

        Just playing devil’s advocate!

      • , says:

        All? And who do they really represent?

  16. Anonymous says:

    CNS, can you go any lower in terms of your shameless lack of professionalism. Quoting numbers from a less than 1% sampling of the population, as the indisputable will of the people? Trying to smear one of the last honest politicians around with innuendos and distorted “truths” to push your personal anti-port agenda. God help us next election when you are sure to use this forum to push your own candidates. Corruption comes in many forms and your reporting on the Port project from the beginning is nothing short of corruption in journalism. If you have any shred of integrity left, print this comment.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Kirkbots are angry.

    • Anonymous says:

      Throw a rock in the pig pen first thing to squeal is a Kirkbot!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well if you increased the sample to the full population I’m sure you would find the percentages are even less supportive of the dock development so be careful what you wish for.

      Do the math…if 111 out of 473 are in favor, and 80 of those are connected to Kirk Freeport, then if you remove Kirk Freeport and extrapolate then less than 10% are in support of this.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS does not have any candidates as you suggest. CNS has operated the only fair and balanced news outlet in Cayman for years.

      I do not always agree with their publishing policies, but we are all human.

      If CNS can be accused of anything, it may be a colonial leaning, but regarding this port thing, they have done a damned good job in getting to bedrock and yes, my friend, it is ALL ABOUT the money.

      The loudest voices in this matter are not the silent majority, but rather the business people who seem to think that life consists of chasing wealth for themselves at the expense of everything decent.

      The majority do not want to turn this place into another concrete jungle. Where has that got us up until now?

      Most of our problems are related to uncontrolled growth such as dump, traffic, crime, poor education, unemployment. Please, just STOP!

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is all a BIG LIE. And anyhow if there was any real conflict Moses would be pushing for a cruise birth dock up in Stake Bay.

    But NO he is doing all this for GRAND CAYMAN.

    Poor Cayman Brac left out as ALWAYS!!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Firstly: “The project, he said, would create more customers for all business in the capital” – a grossly inaccurate statement. Most businesses will not benefit in any way – only the Kirkconnell empire and the few retail outlets in the capital will benefit. In what way will all the lawyers and financial service providers benefit from this pray tell?

    Secondly: Where will all these Caymanians work once construction ends?

    • SSM345 says:

      DART owns 90% of GT. He will revitalize it when they build this dock and own all the new shops, so in fact DART will get 90% of the revenue and the Kirkonnells 10%.

      • , says:

        And the people?

        • Anonymous says:

          The people will pick up the tab if it does not work out. Simple.

          • Anonymous says:

            No, business in Cayman will be forced to pick up the tab via increased fees for work permits and increased fees for business licenses. The financial services sector will be hit the hardest.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 1227 you really have a minute view of whats going on.

      So you put more tourist in town and the tourist get to spend more time in Cayman. So maybe this encourage some to visit on a trip rather than on a cruise.

      And what about people that Kirk Freeport have to pay salaries to. Dont they have to live someplace so maybe some one is getting rent.

      Dont they have to eat.

      And they are going to use water and electricity.

      Or did you think Kirk Freeport has a live in the bottle program.

      and with the larger ships and more tourist what about taxis and boating services that take tourist out to stingray city and the submarine.

      But of course the price is the coral and yes I have a problem with that but I am not blind.

      • , says:

        Blinkers. What about the rest of the people experiencing similar difficulties but have a different viewpoint. Everybody pays. Everybody Says. Referendum is the only fair way.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes I will be encouraged to come back to George Town as I really like it when its like New York with thousands of pedestrians and I cant move.

        The village called. They want their idiot back.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Grow up – this is how these islands work and have always worked. With such a small indigenous population, many of whom are inter-married, how can it be any other way? If it wasn’t pretty much everyone would have to recuse themselves from everything and the whole place would grind to a halt. If you don’t like it there are plenty of other places you could move to.

    Mind you the statement that the dock will be, “Built mainly by Caymanians for Caymanians and will be owned by Caymanians,” is complete Caymanian BS. The dock may be built by a few Caymanians partnered (as required by law) with outside contractors but as with almost all previous major projects the work force won’t be Caymanian. As for who owns the dock? My bet would be the cruise lines will end up with the lion’s share of it – after all it is their money that will fund it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    With attacks like this I encourage the Kirkconnels to just cash out and let Dart take over the whole of town.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dart has bought out already some of Kirk’s businesses

      • Anonymous says:

        Which ones?

      • Anonymous says:

        DART owns every single building in GT apart from those of the Government, the Kirkonnells and the law firms.

        • Anonymous says:

          Which Kirk businesses or properties did he buy?

        • Anonymous says:


          I think ‘every single’ is being a bit OTT. Whole it is true that Dart has, through front companies, bought up a lot of property in GT he doesn’t own it all and at least one business has told him what he can do with his money.

          The overall game plan seems to be that when the time is right the various businesses on the sites will be closed (many of them effectively already are) and the buildings demolished to make way for whatever the next stage of the island’s evolution requires.

          What is interesting bout this is that while it’s common knowledge it isn’t getting anything like the same attention that the cruise dock is. I wonder why?

          As for Kirk Freeport? Dart could buy him out tomorrow and hardly notice it if he wanted. Probably the only reason he hasn’t is because it’s not the right time, the company is currently over-valued but Dart knows that will change.

  21. Nodda McLaughlin says:

    Obviously the Premier is painting a very biased picture for all of us sheeple. The bulk of the work done on the dock will be foreigners. The Premier knows this but uses the phrase “mainly built by Caymanians”. He also pointed out that the extra workers from other places would be paying rent and buying groceries, etc. which is correct, but it will also be only for the time that they are here. If and when the dock is finished, most the dock builders will leave, The Caymanian dock workers will find themselves unemployed again and it will be back-to-normal and we will have an enormous debt to pay! This dock could well be the end of Grand Cayman as we know, and the damage done to the environment is being swept under the rug for now!

  22. Anonymous says:

    In a normal place, he would recuse himself for any responsibility for this.

  23. All Seeing Eye says:

    “None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.”

  24. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman’s are a land riddled by double standards and hypocrisy

  25. Anonymous says:

    This whole thing stinks like a dead fish. Which will inevitably be the outcome of the dock… lots of dead fish.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t obvious why this is happening? Cayman is a Banana Republic run by a few

  27. Blind Bartimaeus says:

    Everybody even Ray Charles can see that Moses Kirkconnell is being creative with the truth. Gerry Kirkconnell is the Deputy Chairman of the Port Authority Board of Directors and is involved directly and indirectly (formally and informally) in all parts of this project from day one. Gerry Kirkconnell maintains a pecuniary interest in the outcome of project and is sits in a position where he can influence decisions therefore is conflicted. He has been strategically placed on the board like other members of the Kirkconnell family who sit on the CIAA, CAACI, CAL boards in order to stack the boards with support. A shrewd political move indeed. The question remains would this have been tolerated under the previous government?

    The PPM Cabinet have allowed this to occur since July 2013. It serves as evidence that they are complicite and prepared to facilitate any potential breaches of the Anti-Corruption Laws as the perception of potential conflicts is be enough to warrant investigations into board decisions made by the related boards by the Auditor General’s office in the interests of transparency, good governance and accountability.

  28. SSM345 says:

    Blatant conflict of Interest. Nuff said. In the real world, Minister Kirkonnell would have recused himself from this whole project from the get go, but not in Cayman.

  29. Anonymous says:

    And for one will never shop at Kirk Freeport again. I also doubt that I will ever vote again.such a disappointment the lot of you.

    • Anonymous says:

      stopped shopping at kirks supermarket long time ago…….

      • Anonymous says:

        And I will never shop at Kirk Office or buy services from Kirk ISS again. It is easy to boycott these two since they are way overpriced anyway, especially the computer services at Kirks!

  30. Anonymous says:

    kirk bots…….

  31. S. Harvey says:

    Can we not just have a winner takes all game of Family Feud to decide this thing once and for all?

  32. Anonymous says:

    I like most of the Kirkconnell’s but they are wrong on this one. I have little time for most of the Briggs’s but they are correct this time. Smaller ships and competition in the tender business is the way forward.

  33. Anonymous says:

    This is the same man who “built” JGHS, making all these claims, look what we have to show for it now!

  34. Anonymous says:

    “I have no conflict in making decisions that will greatly benefit the family I love.”

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