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Justice Frank Seepersad

Defaming in Social Media is popular these days – Consequences come in varying forms

Justice Frank Seepersad

The article published last week, “High Court judge rules on Facebook posting” which showed one Facebook poster, ordered to pay to her victims, damages and costs, we had prefaced it by saying, “There are many fronts of interest for very diverse sections of our community, that this article should receive special attention.”

There has been some ‘feedback’ where some concerned persons expressed support for the view that many here in Montserrat and elsewhere have been getting away with similar acts. They wanted to know more about the matter.

Nearly all the mediums, print and online, carried the story. In another article, the judge was quoted saying: “There is nothing wrong with expressing your views, by all means, go ahead [but] do not defame the reputation of someone else. Do not drag their name through the mud. Be careful what you post, they have consequences.”

Following Justice Frank Seepersad conviction, saying, Your social media posts can have consequences in court, in a programe called, The Morning Brew today, the suing couple’s attorney issued a caution to others using the kind word, ‘share’ in Facebook. “A word of caution is also extended to those who knowingly republish or “share” posts containing defamatory content. There must be some measure of restraint, if only to reconsider the accuracy or plausibility of truth in a post before its dissemination which is especially true of sensational and outrageous posts which can possibly cause irreparable harm,” they said.

This should be given very serious thought. You see, you can’t change the printed word. You may get away with the attempt of trying to change the spoken word.

In that article it offered a brief on “What is defamation?” 

The Libel and Defamation Act was first established in January 1846.

There are two parts of defamation namely libel (things in a permanent form that are written e.g newspapers, books, paintings, drawings) or slander (things that are said).

Defamation is usually an allegation or accusation that harms the reputation or honour of the subject of the communication, generally by identifying a character trait or course of action that exposes the subject to hatred, contempt or ridicule.

A Magistrate or High Court Judge can therefore award damages if the defendant is found guilty of defamation of character.

It is on Facebook and probably through other social media that Montserrat suffered and is suffering from certain ‘potentially’ defamatory publishing which undoubtedly among more serious problems, caused the presence of a new governor in Montserrat. As a result there may be all types of litigation that might take place, however long that will be.

Legislation regarding defamation (the Libel and Defamation Act) was established long before the era of the internet. As such, this ruling will now govern the use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other communication applications including WhatsApp and Viber.

Some folks may feel secure and private, but note, as the judge indicated: “…while a person’s social media account is private, the posts occupy a public space and the content will be subject to public opinion and scrutiny.

Another writer Derek Achong noted the advice to exercise extreme caution when making posts, as citizens who fall victim to reckless and malicious statements now have an avenue of recourse.

The observations noted that social media users would be held to the same standards as traditional media practitioners. Just as the judge put it: “Social media ought not to be viewed as an unregulated media forum and anyone who elects to express views or opinions on such a forum stands in the shoes of a journalist and must be subjected to the standards of responsible journalism which govern traditional media,” he said.

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“Sad day for Bermuda” says couple who fought for same-sex marriage

“Sad day for Bermuda” says couple who fought for same-sex marriage

by STAFF WRITER

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Feb 8, CMC  –  A gay couple whose landmark Supreme Court victory last year paved the way for same-sex marriages in the island have spoken of their “sadness” after Governor John Rankin signalled the end of such unions,  that will be replaced by civil partnerships.

The end for same-sex marriages in this British Overseas Territory and aboard Bermuda-registered cruise ships came when Rankin gave the royal assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 on Wednesday.

Rankin signed the legislation 61 days after it was passed in the House of Assembly and 56 days in the wake of its approval by the Senate.

Rankin said he signed the new act into law “after careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the constitution”.

The move ended weeks of speculation over whether Britain would allow the legislation, and dashed the hopes of activists in Bermuda and overseas who had asked Rankin to reject the new law.

It follows a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in May 2017, when Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruled that the island’s Registrar-General could not reject a gay couple’s application to marry in Bermuda.

The decision paved the way for same-sex marriage on the island, and the first same-sex couple made their vows at the Registry-General’s office less than a month later.

The judgment was the result of a lawsuit brought by a gay couple, Winston Godwin, a Bermudian, and his Canadian partner Greg DeRoche, against the Registrar-General’s decision to refuse to post their wedding banns. The pair eventually wed in Canada but at least eight other gay couples were married on the island, according to British opposition Labour Party MP Chris Bryant.

Godwin said he and his partner were “deeply saddened” by the Governor’s decision.

“It’s a sad day for Bermuda. It’s a sad day for human rights.

The Governor was placed between a rock and a hard place with this poorly planned and rushed bill,” Godwin said.

But he told the island’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community: “While Greg and I were the face of this case, we represented every single one of you and helped to give a voice to those that didn’t have one.

“Because of you, we were able to make a difference in the lives of eight couples and that’s something that shouldn’t be understated or forgotten.

“You are all loved and are worthy of love.”

Lawyer Mark Pettingill, a former Attiorney-General, said the battle for the return of same-sex marriage in Bermuda could end up in Europe’s highest courts.

Pettingill said the royal assent meant that any further legal action would need to be heard in higher courts.

Pettingill, who fought the May 2017 Supreme Court case that paved the way for same-sex marriage, added: “This is now something that would necessarily invite consideration beyond our shores. There is potential for a challenge going all the way to the European courts.”

He added: “I take the view, as do a number of other lawyers, that there is a case to be heard on the basis of the rights enshrined in our constitution.

“The question becomes, are there any relevant parties that are prepared to take up that fight?”

Pettingill said: “I feel that potential is there. Unfortunately, there are the risks of losing, which would probably incur substantial legal costs.

“These things are not cheap to run. Anybody who decided to take up that challenge as a litigant would have to think very carefully about the possibility that they could lose, and the risks involved.”

Home Affairs Minister Walton Brown, who tabled the legislation in the House last November, said the act represented “a compromise piece of legislation which does not bring any high level of satisfaction to any side” in the island’s long-running row over same-sex marriage.

Speaking from London, Brown said the provisions of the act were “the only position that could be taken at this point”.

“This difficult piece of legislation was developed in such a way as to ensure that it fully complies with our constitution.Clearly anyone has the right to challenge anything they want, but it must be a challenge with merit,” Brown noted.

Same-sex marriage and civil unions were voted on in a non-binding referendum in June 2016.

The referendum failed to attract the 50 per cent minimum of registered voters needed to rule that questions were “answered”.

But those who did vote rejected both same-sex marriage and civil unions by a margin of more than two to one.

Brown said on Wednesday night the referendum showed that the majority of Bermudians did not support same-sex marriage.

But the Governor’s decision attracted fast condemnation from overseas.

Bryant, a former Overseas Territories Minister who called for the House of Commons debate in London last month, said on Wednesday night: “This totally undermines UK efforts to advance LGBT rights.”

Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, said during the Commons debate that Britain was “disappointed” by Bermuda’s decision to reverse marriage equality.

Ty Cobb, director at Washington-based Human Rights Campaign Global, called the move a “deplorable action”.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of New York’s Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, added: “LGBTQ couples and their children in Bermuda should know that the global community of LGBTQ people and allies will stand with them in rectifying this unjust and hurtful news.

“Love can never be rolled back.”

Clare O’Connor, a Bermudian journalist working overseas, promised to do her to best to damage the island as a tourist destination.

“I will be encouraging my LGBTQ friends to spend their money elsewhere,” she said.

“This is despicable and I hope the (ruling) Progressive Labour Party and Governor understand the damage they’ve done.”

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Caribbean hits 30 million mark in stay over visitors

Caribbean hits 30 million mark in stay over visitors

by STAFF WRITER

 Barbados, Feb. 15, CMC – The Caribbean set a record with 30 million in stay over arrivals for the first time in 2017, even as the region battled the effects of catastrophic hurricanes.

The figures were released on Thursday 15th by the Barbados based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

According to the CTO’s acting director of research,  Ryan Skeete,  the visitors contributed US$37 billion to Caribbean economies during the 12-month period, up 2.6 per cent over 2016.

The tourism researcher explained that stay-over arrivals were on track for a strong performance during the first-half of 2017, growing by an estimated 4.8 per cent, but growth was curtailed in the second half of the year by the storms, which were largely responsible for a1.7 per cent drop between July and December.

“These outcomes resulted in an overall increase of 1.7 per cent in 2017, making it the eighth consecutive year of growth, albeit slower than the average global growth rate of 6.7 per cent.

The CTO official explained that strong economic performance in the main markets helped spur the region’s performance, with some destinations recording strong double-digit growth, although the hurricane-affected countries were down between seven per cent and 18 per cent.

The United States continued to be the primary market, growing by about 0.5 per cent to reach an estimated 14.9 million visits to the region due mainly to solid economic growth, low unemployment and high consumer confidence; while the Canadian market rebounded strongly, recording a 4.3 per cent increase in arrivals, compared to a decline of 3.1 per cent in 2016.

However, it was the European market that recorded the strongest growth rate, increasing by 6.2 per cent to 5.8 million visitors, with the United Kingdom up by 2.9 per cent to 1.3 million.

The increase in arrivals was not reflected in hotel occupancy, which fell by 1.2 per cent, according to STR (formerly Smith Travel Research), a U.S. company that tracks supply and demand data for the hotel industry. However, both average daily rate and revenue per available room recorded increases, though slightly.

“Notably, the hotel performance indicators excluded most of the hurricane-impacted destinations at this time, due to the disruption in operations caused by the hurricanes,” Skeete said.

The cruise sector also set a new high of 27 million passengers, 2.4 per cent higher than 2016, despite the hurricanes.

“The cruise passenger performance mirrors the performance of tourist arrivals, as it grew strongly by 4.6 per cent in the first half of 2017, but contracted marginally  – by 0.4 per cent – in the second half of the year. Indeed, cruise passenger arrivals fell dramatically in September by some 20 per cent. However, growth resumed in October, which saw a two per cent increase,” the CTO official said.

The CTO said the economic conditions are expected to be favourable for further growth in 2018, therefore it predicts growth of two to three per cent in both stay-over and cruise arrivals.

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DSC_3221

Looking back at the 2017 Literary Festival – “Telling Our Stories”

By Cathy Buffonge

For the past nine years the University of the West Indies Open Campus here in Montserrat has been organizing an inspiring Literary Festival. Led by Campus Head Gracelyn Cassell, the Festival is dubbed Alliouagana Festival of the Word after Montserrat’s original Amerindian name, and takes place in November each year. Last November’s Festival was entitled “Telling our Stories” and as the name suggests focused on all aspects of storytelling.

For the first time the Festival teamed up with the Ministry of Education’s Reading Week, and this featured an impressive Book Parade in which children from each school wore costumes depicting storybook characters. The parade started in Carr’s Bay area and ended at the Basketball Complex in Little Bay, with a host of imaginative costumes. In addition some of the visiting storytellers from the “Lit Fest” visited the schools and met with school children for stories and interactive discussions.

The big event on the Thursday afternoon was the Memorial Symposium, continuing the annual lecture series held in recognition of Montserrat’s hero and international singing star, the late Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell. For the first time the symposium started at 2pm, in order to facilitate school children’s attendance, and this did attract a good number from three schools, some of whom participated well in discussions.

The symposium featured seven resource persons from the Caribbean and further afield, all touching on storytelling from different angles. The keynote speaker was Dr Amina Blackwood- Meeks from the Edna Manley College in Jamaica. In her presentation “Forgetting we-self”, she pointed out that here in the Caribbean we are still singing about “dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” instead of focusing on themes more relevant to the Caribbean.

Jamaican storyteller and dramatist A-dZiko Simba Gegele, well known locally, told an entertaining story, while Antiguan bookshop owner and reading promoter Barbara Arrindell, a long time supporter of the Festival, spoke on “Presenting our history”, and also played a part in other sections of the Festival.

Other speakers included Nicole Plummer from UWI, Jamaica, who spoke on “Constructing knowledge through storytelling”, Wendy MacBurnie from Howard University on “Filmic folklore and storytelling in Slumdog Millionaire”, and Gracelyn Cassell herself, the main organizer of the Festival,  whose topic was “Hot Hot Hot: Arrow’s story revisited”. Akini Gill from the University of Trinidad and Tobago talked about his personal experience growing up as an unrecognized dyslexic, and how he now teaches children with learning disabilities through music.

Friday saw the official opening of the Festival, starting with a reception hosted by Montserrat’s then Governor, HE Elizabeth Carriere. Welcome remarks at the opening were given by Minister of Health Hon Delmaude Ryan, the official Patron of the Festival, and there was enjoyable entertainment from Montserrat’s traditional Masquerades and from three of our veteran calypsonians, Cupid, Tabu and Belonger.

A highlight of the opening was the launch of two books. Claytene Nisbett presented her book “Life as Josephine”, depicting the life of a young black girl as she grows up in the US and later in the UK. Sarah Dickinson presented her new book “Plenty Mango”, illustrated by her husband, John Renton. In the book she takes a sardonic and light hearted but sympathetic look at many aspects of Montserrat life, with several well known characters being mentioned.

The weekend was as usual full of interesting activities and presentations. A new feature of the Festival was an imaginative dramatization of the children’s book “Who’s in Rabbit’s House?” This was organized and coordinated by Pat “Belonger” Ryan with support from parents, especially Mr and Mrs Rolando Kassie. Children took the parts of the various animals in the story, which was narrated by Hayley-Shai Kassie in front of creative scenery made by parents and the “house” built by Kirk Brade.

Another new and quite challenging event was a spelling and reading competition for children, entitled “Spell-like a champion”. This was sponsored by book publishers Harper Collins, whose first time involvement in the Festival was greatly appreciated, and who generously donated books for the prize winners and other children. The event was coordinated by Barbara Arrindell and librarian Sonja Smith.  

There was also a dramatic event put on by Brandelle Knight and a group of secondary students and these all received books donated by CODE (Canadian Organization for Development through Education) who have been another sterling supporter of the Lit Fest.

An annual feature of the Festival is the prize giving ceremony for the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) creative writing competition. This year the children, and some adults, competed to write poems on the theme “Restless Earth”. There were over 170 entries, many of them illustrated, so the judges had an extremely hard job, as there was a high standard throughout. Prize winners read their poems to an appreciative audience. The competition was ably coordinated by MVO information/ outreach officer Natalie Edgecombe.

There were several other interesting sessions during the weekend conducted by Sarah Dickinson, Barbara Arrindell, A-dZiko Simba and Nigerian born author/ story teller Atinuke Akinyemi, who kept the audience spellbound. Well known Trinidadian comedian Paul Keens-Douglas wrapped up the Festival with his lively performance “Let’s tell stories”.

As usual a host of interesting books for children and adults, many of them with Caribbean themes, were on sale at the UWI bookstall, and also from Barbara Arrindell’s Antigua bookshop, Best of Books. There was a lovely display of crafts by Juliana Meade, and as always Claude Browne’s bouncy castle was there for the children’s enjoyment.

“Word up”, now an annual event (originally coordinated by Coretta Ryan and her sister, former Festival Queen Sharissa Ryan), was held at the Community College and was reported to be a well attended and lively event, with young people reading and performing their writing creations

I would like to encourage as many people as possible, especially teachers and their students, to attend the Alliougana Festival every year. Most of the presenters come down for just a few days and this is a unique opportunity to listen to what they have to say and interact with them. It was good to have more participation from school children this time. Well done to Miss Cassell and her hard-working staff and volunteers.

Continued funding assistance from the Montserrat Arts Council and the Montserrat Foundation was a great help, as was fundraising in Toronto and Montreal by Mary Glavassevich and Evans Lewis respectively. Thanks too to Radio Montserrat for helping promote the Festival, and to those who provided accommodation free of charge to the visiting presenters. Committee Chair, Gracelyn Cassell extends sincere thanks to the hard-working members of the Steering Committee and to the Sponsors and Partners, old and new for making the 9thAlliouagana Festival of the Word possible.

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David Dubbery

Call for preparations for the projected 5,000 to visit for St. Patrick’s festivities

Chairperson David Duberry

Chairperson David Duberry of the St. Patrick’s (Day/week celebrations) Committee is calling on vendors, merchants and entrepreneurs to be ready “to capitalise on the projected visitor arrivals” to Montserrat for the 2018 celebrations

He says they are anticipating a record number of visitors to the islands shores for the 2018 250th anniversary of the 1768 event. In a news report he reported that hundreds of persons from Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis are due to converge on the island on St Patrick’s Day March 17th.

“It’s going to be big,” he said. “We anticipate over five thousand (5,000) people coming in during the month of March. We anticipate over two thousand (2,000) people on the 17th of March so we all have to be prepared.”

Naming ‘Customs’, he continues, “You know the whole of Montserrat have to be prepared and you know we want a smooth transition from the time they leave UK, Canada, China everywhere, Antigua and hit Montserrat, we want people to be smiling from the time they get to Antigua and into Montserrat.”

Last year March it is estimated that three thousand five hundred visitors came to the island during the month of March, a claim that has been debated seemingly in the halls of accounting officers in government, following the accounting of a bust budget, which another long standing hard working celebrity organizer member who claims that the sum of over six million dollars ($6m) was generated in Montserrat during the period.

Duberry added, “Montserrat will be invaded and I want our local people to be part of this. If you have a downstairs room that need a bit of work to get it rented or rentable to rentable standard, you need to get that sorted.”

“I’m not a car renter,” he said, “But I’ve being bombarded with telephone calls about car and about rooms or apartments and the tourist department has been bombarded with similar requests, and you know Montserratians and people live in Montserrat have to be part of this. It’s not just about the St. Patrick’s Committee, so you all need to get on board.”

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High Court judge rules on Facebook posting

High Court judge rules on Facebook posting

There are many fronts of interest for very diverse sections of our community, that this article should receive special attention. This presents not only as this story represents but the understanding of ‘social media’ on a whole. Look out for more on the issues.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 5, CMC – A High Court judge Monday described as “reckless and scandalous” the postings of a woman on the social media, Facebook, after ruling that unsubstantiated libelous statements had caused a family to suffer “shame and embarrassment”.

Justice Frank Seepersad, who said that the woman, Jenelle Burke, would have to pay to her victims damages and costs to be assessed by a Master in Chambers at a later date, said that the defendant did not dispute that the posts were on her Facebook account but she ran the “Shaggy defence” by saying “it wasn’t me”.

In her posts, which the court heard had may have been seen by thousands of people, Burke claimed that the family in question was engaged in incestuous activities and that the father of the family was a rapist who would engage in sexual relations with his stepson and daughter who is a minor.

The telephone numbers belonging to the family members as well as their photographs were attached to the posts. One of the posts also stated that the minor, who was seven years old at the time, was involved in prostitution at her school.

In court, the unidentified family members denied that the accusations and the High Court heard that the Facebook posts had resulted in officers of the Child Protection Unit visiting the family on one occasion to carry out investigations into the allegations.

The family members who said they were once friends with the woman, said despite making reports to the police, the insults continued and in February last year became aware of the Facebook posts on Burke’s page.

In her defence statement, Burke admitted that the messages were posted on her wall but denied she was the one who did so. She contended it may have been placed there by someone else who may have had access to her account. She said as soon as was saw the posts on her page, she deleted them.

But in delivering his ruling, Justice Seepersad warned that the damage which social media postings can have is significant, as the disseminated material creates a perpetual imprint in cyberspace and “there is no deletion or rectification which can be effected with respect to information uploaded to the World Wide Web, quite unlike a print copy of a book or newspaper, the copies of which could be destroyed”.

He said the reach and permanency of social media is such that extreme caution has to be exercised by its users.

“The law needs to be pellucid, so that all concerned must understand that social media use has to be engaged in a responsible way. Anonymity cannot obviate the need to be respectful of people’s rights and users cannot recklessly impugn a person’s character or reputation.

“Words in any form or on any forum, matter and must be used carefully and not impulsively.  Within the public purview there is a misguided perception that the interaction over social media with flagged friends whether on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Viber, is private.

“This notion has to be dispelled. Such communication once uploaded becomes public and the said communication enjoys no cover of privacy protection. The advent and continued use of social media now results in a circumstance where the rules, regulations, rights, and responsibilities which govern traditional media must be applied.

“Social media ought not to be viewed as an unregulated media forum and anyone who elects to express views or opinions on such a forum stands in the shoes of a journalist and must be subjected to the standards of responsible journalism which govern traditional media,” the judge said.

He described Burke’s Facebooks posts as reckless and scandalous.

“It is difficult to fathom how any right-thinking member of society would contemplate to publish words such as those posted on the defendant’s Facebook account.  Sadly however, far too often, social media is used as a forum to engage in this type of irresponsible and cruel discourse.

“This state of affairs cannot continue unabated and the Court therefore has elected to mould and apply the common law in a manner which gives some degree of protection to citizens. There is entrenched in local parlance the phrase, “You will pay for your mouth”.”

Justice Seepersad said given the technological revolution which now characterises modern life, ”this traditional phrase has to be subject to an update and all social media account holders need to understand that they may now have to “Pay for their posts”, if it is established that their posts are defamatory”.

He said in this case, the defendant did not dispute that the posts were on her Facebook account, noting that she had indicated that the account was set up in 2010 by “named parties who all had access to same.

“She said that she did not publish the posts but removed same when they were brought to her attention.  Social media accounts must be jealously guarded, just like a bank account and access to same should be restricted, as it is a forum where views expressed will normally be attributed to the owner of the account. “One must be mindful that although the account is private, the posts emanating from the account occupy a public space and the content of these posts will be subject to public opinion and scrutiny as will the persons to whom the posts refer. Inevitably, if what the posts contain are malicious falsehoods, then those falsehoods can translate to real-world damage to someone’s reputation.

“A word of caution is also extended to those who knowingly republish or “share” posts containing defamatory content. There must be some measure of restraint, if only to reconsider the accuracy or plausibility of truth in a post before its dissemination which is especially true of sensational and outrageous posts which can possibly cause irreparable harm,” the judge added.

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Andrew Pearce  sworn in as  Montserrat’s  Governor

Andrew Pearce sworn in as Montserrat’s Governor

By Bennette Roach

Montserrat, welcomed new Governor (designate) Andrew Pearce OBE at a special sitting of the Legislative Assembly at the Cultural Centre on Thursday, February 1 with a little less flair than his predecessor but with the usual pomp and circumstance after the welcome and thank you speeches, and the usual inspection of a guard of honour.This followed his arrival with his wife and one of two daughters the day before, January 31, 2018, at the John A. Osborne airport where he was met by the Ag. Governor Mrs Lyndell Simpson, the Hon Premier Donaldson Romeo, other members of the Legislative Assembly and residents of Montserrat.

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne after declaring the special Assembly sitting in her opening welcome remarks, explained the format which would, of course, be different from the normal sitting of the Assembly. Listen to the Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne Welcoming Remarks

Acting Governor Simpson, the substantive Deputy Governor delivered a handing over address in which she spoke appropriate words fitting for the time. “…and never more so than in those times and on those occasions when relationships (have) become fractious and frayed, as you travel the length and breadth of the island over the coming weeks as you get to know and understand the aspirations of our people as you experience the warmth and hospitality, and that special undefinable thing that is uniquely Montserratian, I trust that we will grow on you and you on us and that together we will make significant strides in realizing that vision of a thriving twenty-first century economy, a thriving social and cultural island and empowered public service that is fit for purpose.”

 Offering her support to the Governor, she closed. “In my substantive capacity as Deputy Governor I wish to assure you of my absolute support and I do look forward to working with you. I welcome you to Montserrat and I extended every best wish for a most successful tenure.” Listen to the Honourable Deputy Governer Mrs Lyndell Simpson

Following the reading of the royal warrant of his appointment, the Honourable Ag. Attorney General Mrs Sheree Jemmotte-Rodney then administered the oath, in which Governor Pearce, swore to be faithful and bare true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors according to law.

The welcoming addresses began with the Hon. Speaker who in her own particular deviating style, noted to the importance of his posting at a time when Montserrat is marking the 250th anniversary of the failed slave uprising in 1768, inviting Governor Pearce and his family to share in the history of Montserrat and its people.In her quickened way of speaking, she addressed the Governor: “Our youngest people want to know what happened in Montserrat between 1768 and 1995… so with technological savvy and creativity of young people, this year March 17th we’re going to remember just for them. It will be an unparalleled opportunity for you to get to know us as a people, for you to get to comprehend some of our concerns and ambitions and understand what truly drives us to continue to struggle to gather the pieces of our broken hearts and rebuild the life that was shattered most recently when the volcano commenced its eruptions in 1995.”

She closed by repeating some she said she told Governor Carriere while welcoming her: “Montserrat is more precious to us than any other thing in the entire world, we feel very strongly, very strongly about our little island and we’re giving everything we have, everything that we have in us to bring Montserrat back to being a place of health, wealth and happiness. We Montserratians are determined to thrive we thank you for having come to join us in the effort and we look forward to working with you side by side shoulder to shoulder as peers as equals to bring this about.” Listen to the Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne

Next on the program the Hon. Opposition Leader Easton Taylor-Farrell addressed the Governor, on behalf of the royal opposition noting that welcome and farewells to Governors have become a routine in the lives of Montserratians and that has become a “part of our tradition.” He then went on to layout to the Governor that as Her Majesty’s representative, it is how he is able to help to move the country forward out of the state of dependency that exists. Listen to Opposition Leader Easton Taylor Farrell

The Hon. Premier had the distinction of ending the addresses. His full address is published elsewhere in this issue, and maybe listened to online at the website: www.themontserratreporter.com or at our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/themontserratreporter/

He packed in as much as he could laying out for the Governor the fact that after nearly 23 years after volcanic activity began in 1995, Montserrat was still steeped in dependency with no sight of climbing out. He said he was looking forward to sharing with him the national vision which is to achieve a modern economy with a friendly vibrant community in which all people through enterprise and initiative can fulfil their hopes in a truly democratic and God-fearing society. Listen to Premier Romeo’s welcome address

His Excellency Governor Pearce responded saying after thanking all for their words of welcome, how he was deeply honoured to be governor of Montserrat. He said, “I will do my utmost to fulfil my responsibilities to the Government and people of Montserrat and the UK Government and to represent Her Majesty the Queen honourably and diligently,” as he announced that, while he had been briefed on the island, nothing prepared him and his family for the first sight of the island as it came into view from the air.

“In the few short months since my appointment was confirmed, I have heard and learned much about Montserrat, its charms and its challenges. But nothing could have prepared my wife and me and our daughter for our first sight of Montserrat as we approached the island yesterday,” he declared.

He noted, the first line of the chorus of the territorial song, “Montserrat, by nature blessed” could not be more appropriate. Adding, “my wife and I feel equally blessed to be here and to be given the opportunity to spend the next three to four years working with you and living among you.”

The Governor gave a brief background of himself and his career.

“I grew up in rural Norfolk in England and am very much still a country boy at heart. I love the natural world and am at my happiest hiking on a ridge top or digging about in a garden. I studied chemistry at university and did a bit of research into new battery technologies before joining the Foreign Office,”

He informed further: “My career saw me finding my lovely wife, Pornpun, whilst on my first posting to Thailand. We have been posted together with our family since to Israel, South Africa, Romania and Thailand again. Most recently I have served as Head of Security for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a fascinating and demanding job navigating the threats of the Arab Spring, and as Charge D’Affaires in Vilnius in Lithuania.”

After saying he has “enjoyed all my jobs,” and that most importantly for him is, “to do my part in making things better for the Montserratian community,” a theme that kept on in his address, he paid tribute to his predecessor, Elizabeth Carriere, and the work she did in a number of areas.

“I applaud her,” he said. In particular on public sector reform through the Empowering Excellence Programme.

He declared, “A modern, motivated and efficient public service is a cornerstone and driver of a thriving economy and business environment in Montserrat.”

He stressed, “It is through the support, work, creativity and commitment of many other people, both inside and outside the public service.”

But most worthy of note, he said: “It is the people of Montserrat who matter.”

He ended: “Please do let us know your feelings and concerns. We can’t solve everything and cannot do everything, but I will always be keen to listen and learn. And above all I will always do my best to help make things better – simpler, stronger, nicer and happier – wherever

https://www.themontserratreporter.com/governor-swearing-ceremony-speeches-audio/possible.”

Please, those who can, listen to his address and all the others before him by visiting the website: www.themontserratreporter.com the individual speeches are there and so too, you may watch the video of the ceremony. See also TMR Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/themontserratreporter/

 

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Governor Swearing Ceremony Speeches (Audio)

Governor Swearing Ceremony Speeches (Audio)

 

Welcome, Remark Honourable Speaker Shirley Osborne.

Address by Acting Governor Mrs Lyndell Simpson.

Royal Warrant and Sworn by Mrs Judith Baker-Jeffers. Administer of Oath by Honourable Attorney General (Ag) Mrs Sheree Jemmotte- Rodney.

Address by Honourable Speaker Ms Shirley Osborne

Address by the Leader of the Opposition Mr Easton Farrell.

Address by the Honourable Premier, Mr Donaldson Romeo.

Address by His Excellency, the Governor, Mr Andrew John Pearce, OBE

 
 

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ECCB Governor Hosts Discussion With Media Practitioners in Montserrat

Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB),
Timothy N. J. Antoine hosts discussion with media practitioners in
Montserrat as part of the Bank’s Citizen Engagement and Stakeholders Relations Strategy. 

Governor Antoine  shared  information and discussed a range of economic and financial sector stability issues including:

•      The ECCB’s Strategic Approach
•      Current Situation in the ECCU
•      Current Situation in Montserrat
•      Challenges facing Montserrat
•      Legislative Reforms

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Dr. Clarice Barnes

A Peach of a time! Montserrat Women’s Festival 2018

Dr. Clarice Barnes

    By Dr. Vernie Clarice Barnes

 January 7th 2018, one day beyond the last day of Christmas, the festivities are over but not quite so for the women who joined Brenda Perkins (Peaches) in an exclusively women last lap at the Good Life Night Club.  Approximately one hundred and fifty (150) elegantly dressed women of all ages   spent time relaxing, playing games, discussing, eating and drinking the best.  This “Women’s  Festival” has been happening for eight years and is the brainchild of Peaches who recognised that women needed this retreat after working hard to make Christmas and the Festival enjoyable for their families and the community. Coincidentally, a similar activity (Women’s Christmas) is held in Ireland around this time. It began in rural communities but has now spread to the cities, USA and the UK where Irish people have settled. It is gaining popularity as a well deserved bonus for women.

I attended the “Women’s Festival” for the first time this year and found it to be impressive.  I was particularly impressed by the discussion of Women’s views of Montserrat Culture, Christmas and the Festival. Mrs. Cynthia Dyett did an excellent job of facilitating wide participation.  Women spoke passionately on issues of the meaning of Festival, participation, cultural transfer and women’s role in processes that will ensure the sustainability of the Montserrat culture and Festival. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Festivals might consider adding the “Women’s Festival” in his growing list of Montserrat festivities that he perceives to be of importance to development.  I hasten to suggest that a summary of the issues discussed might prove useful to the Festival Committee.

The Honourable Minister with responsibility for Gender Affairs, Mrs. Delmaude Ryan was in the gathering. She spoke of the need for Diasporic Montserratians to join hands with locals to improve participation in Festival.  This is a significant call given that most participants in adult troupes and bands are women. Montserrat is not known for active women’s groups comparative to the activism found elsewhere in the Region.  It has no visible Women’s Desk, No National Organisation of Women; indeed no national machinery for promoting women’s affairs outside of the Social Services. Montserrat stands alone in the region in this regard. I know that we gathered as women for food, relaxation and fun but from the time the gathering chose to enter into a discussion of a current issue serious business relating to women and Montserrat had to emerge.  This event is clearly a great rallying ground for women. 

Applauds are due Peaches and her team which includes Mrs Petronella Browne and Miss Maureen Phillips for sensitively facilitating a successful Peach of a time.

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