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UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May Reshuffles Cabinet Amid Calls for Her to Step Down

Time
by  Jill Lawless / AP

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks after returning from Buckingham Palace outside 10 Downing Street on June 9, 2017 in London, England © Karwai Tang—Getty Images

(LONDON) – Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed ministers to her shaky government Sunday, as some Conservative colleagues rallied to support her – and others said her days were numbered after last week’s disastrous election.

May is seeking a deal with a Northern Irish party to prop up the Conservative minority government, and lawmakers said the rebuff from voters meant the government would have to abandon planned policies and re-think its strategy for European Union exit talks.

A stream of senior lawmakers entered her office at 10 Downing St. on Sunday afternoon, to learn what roles they had been given in government.

May’s weakened position in the party rules out big changes to the Cabinet lineup. Downing St. has already said that the most senior ministers – including Treasury chief Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd – will keep their jobs.

As rumors swirled about plots to oust May, Johnson denied he was planning a leadership challenge. He tweeted that an article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper headlined “Boris set to launch bid to be PM as May clings on” was “tripe.”

“I am backing Theresa May. Let’s get on with the job,” he said.

The Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority in Thursday’s election – a vote May called in a bid to strengthen her mandate ahead of exit talks with the EU. Instead, she has left Britain’s government ranks in disarray, days before the divorce negotiations are due to start on June 19.

May’s party won 318 seats, 12 fewer than it had before the snap election, and eight short of the 326 needed for an outright majority. Labour surpassed expectations by winning 262.

Former Treasury chief George Osborne – who was fired by May last year – called May a “dead woman walking,” and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was ready to contest another election at any time.

Many senior Conservatives say May should stay, for now, to provide stability. But few believe she can hang on for more than a few months.

“I think her position is, in the long term, untenable,” Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry told Sky News.

But Graham Brady, who chairs the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative lawmakers, said a “self-indulgent” party leadership campaign would only cause more uncertainty.

He acknowledged that the government would be unable to get many of the measures promised in its election platform through Parliament.

May called the election to win explicit backing for her stance on Brexit, which involves leaving the EU’s single market and imposing restrictions on immigration while trying to negotiate free trade deal with the bloc. Some say her failure means the government must now take a more flexible approach to the divorce, potentially softening the exit terms.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who took the party from one Scottish seat to 13, said there would now have to be “consensus within the country about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave.”

To stay in power, the Conservatives are seeking support from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. May’s office said Saturday principles of an agreement had been reached, but the two sides later clarified that they are still talking.

“We have made good progress but the discussions continue,” DUP leader Arlene Foster said.

Downing Street said it hopes to finalize the deal next week, after Parliament resumes sitting.

The two sides are looking to form a “confidence and supply” arrangement. That means the DUP would back the government on confidence motions and budget votes, but it’s not a coalition government or a broader pact.

The alliance makes some modernizing Conservatives uneasy. The DUP is a socially conservative group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage and had links to Protestant paramilitary groups during Ireland’s sectarian “Troubles.”

Conservative lawmaker Nicky Morgan told ITV that she could support a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP, but any closer deal would be “a step too far.”

A deal between the government and the DUP could also unsettle the precarious balance between Northern Ireland’s British loyalist and Irish nationalist parties, whose power-sharing administration in Belfast collapsed earlier this year.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny tweeted Sunday that he had spoken with May “and indicated my concern that nothing should happen to put (the Good Friday Agreement) at risk.”

The 1998 Good Friday agreement set up power sharing in Northern Ireland, largely ending years of sectarian violence.

The British government doesn’t have long to ink a deal. It is due to present its platform for the next session in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on June 19. The speech will be followed by several days of debate and a vote. By tradition, defeat on a Queen’s Speech vote topples the government.

Corbyn said Labour would try to amend the Queen’s Speech to include its own commitments to end austerity and boost public spending. Without the amendments, he said Labour would try to vote down the speech.

“I don’t think Theresa May and this government have any credibility,” Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror, predicting that there could be another election within months.

“I can still be prime minister,” Corbyn said. “This is still on.”

See Corbin “I can still be prime minister.”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/jeremy-corbyn-insists-he-can-still-be-pm-and-vows-to-fight-theresa-may-all-the-way-a3562121.html

 

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Montserrat Branch observe and celebrate Red Cross Day

During the week of May 7 – 13, 2017 The Montserrat Branch of the British Red Cross joined the rest of the world as they marked World Red Cross Day on Monday, May 8, 2017.

The Montserrat Branch celebrated the week beginning with a church service at the Roman Catholic St. Patrick’s Church at Lookout. On varying days in the week, they celebrated by conducting several programs to include several Red Cross Trivia quizzes with ‘giveaways’ on ZJB Radio; an open day of Frist Aid Demonstration at the headquarters building in Brades; and a visit with elderly at the Lookout Warden Assisted homes and the Margetson and Golden Years homes.

The highlight of the week was an Awards Ceremony where members and volunteers get together celebrating the day on Monday.

Volunteer of the Year Mary Farrel

Prior to this chairman Andre West in a radio address marking World Red Cross day, paid tribute to volunteers and members of the organization, adding that many persons on the island have benefited from the selfless acts of local volunteers and members of the charity.

Volunteer of the Year James Cabey

“Let us reflect on our principles and look forward to improve the quality of life for all people particularly the more vulnerable and to be equipped to respond in times of disasters thus creating a community in Montserrat where there is harmony, respect, understanding and equality for all,” he admonished.

He added as he informed: “Around two hundred and forty million people all over the world have benefited from the free assistance and support given by the Red Cross societies,” noting, “Here in Montserrat the branch of the British Red Cross is no different bringing to life our theme so they speak of celebration,” delivering a quote which he repeated at the gathering later that evening. “Refusing to ignore people in crisis by being dynamic, inclusive, courageous and compassionate” the theme for the Day.

There was a full program at the awards, dubbed ‘Volunteer Appreciation Day’, where Director of the Branch Richard Aspin gave welcome remarks as he began performing the functions of chairman. The evening saw Mary Blake, Board Secretary, give the Reflection on the Fundamental Principle – Voluntary Service. There was a song ably performed by ‘The Red Cross trio – Bettrice, Joy and Veronica, before former Deputy and Acting Governor Sarita Francis delivered a feature address. Mrs. Franacis endorsed: “Voluntary Organizations such as yours play a vital role in empowering people to provide immediate response to communities in vulnerable situations.”

“On the other hand,” she said, “it empowers you the volunteer by exposing you to skills and lifelong learning.”

In her address Mrs. Francis spoke to the volcanic crisis and the severe hardships and reduction of the population. She lamented: “How can we forget the exodus of family under hot sheds at Little Bay awaiting a ferry which took over three hours to get to Antigua in 1997?  How can we forget the role of the Montserrat Red Cross and the Antigua Red Cross in providing support for evacuees?

“Unfortunately, not much of this information is being systematically documented or accessible for persons who were not here to comprehend the level of dislocation and the support that was received.  

She pointed out the non-development of a ‘Volcano Interpretive Centre’ which she said: “…would have documented and highlighted the social impacts of this upheaval on the lives of the people of Montserrat and the role that voluntary organizations such as yours played at the time.”

Speaking from her knowledge as Director of the Montserrat National Trust, she revealed: “Funds for a building were allocated under the TDP2 and a site was identified next to the Museum for this centre.” 

On that theme the MNT Director said she was constantly reminded of a quote by the Caribbean Luminary, the late Rex Nettleford which states, “If you do not find time to document your own history, it is likely to be forgotten, or, worse still, misrepresented.”

The distribution of various certificates for various training and workshops; and awards followed, the highlight of which was the award to Volunteer of the Year, bestowed on Mary Farrell and James Cabey.

A vote of thanks culminated that part of the evenings appreciable proceedings delivered by longtime and veteran member of the Red Cross branch, Bennette Roach deputising at the last minute.

The rest of the Volunteer Day celebration of World Red Cross Day with a treat to refreshments, buffet-style and party time with games and karaoke.

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Endurance- photo by spirit of Montserrat

MSS girls – Easter Monday Road Relay champs again, Endurance grabs male prize

The MSS school road relay teams stole the show one more time in the 2016 Easter Monday Road relay.

The school girls’ teams placed 1st and 3rd with MSS 1 winning in a time of 50mins 39secs taking the Prize money of $1500.

Endurance Girls copped 2nd with a time of 51mins 31secs and Prize money of $1250, while MSS 2 Girls got 3rd place with a time of 55mins 18secs and Prize money of $1000.

MSS Cadets Girls had entered a team but were unable to finish the race, whihle the Cadet boys team took the cellar position of 5th place in 1hr 50 mins 17 secs 

The Endurance Men team took 1st  in a time 1hr 34mins 16secs beating the previous best time 1h 35mins 9secs and earning themselves prize money of $1650.

There was a visiting hurricane Power Club girls team from Antigua which participated but did not compete. The team however set outperformed the local girls beating the previous 2015 records of 48mins 29secs set by MSS Girls by clocking 47mins 16secs.

Meanwhile the hurricane Power Club male team from Antigua came in a time of 1hr 42mins 45secs landing them in 4th position.

Final positions men teams:

5th MSS Cadets Boys – 1hr 50mins 17secs

4th Police & Community United 2 – 1h 48mins 20secs

3rd Police & Community United 1 – 1h 38mins 55secs (Prize money $1250)

2nd Fire Men – 1h 36mins 29secs (Prize money $1350)

1st Endurance in a time 1hr 34mins 16secs

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Orange House repeats as MSS Sports Champion

The Montserrat Secondary School sports was forced to be concluded over two Wednesdays in successive weeks because of unusual downpour of rain on the first Wednesday.

At the end of April 19, 2017, Orange House with secret, but intuitive leadership and the Victor Ludorum who in strong competition gathered 37 points, Orange House was the winner with 624 points. Blue House followed with, 601, with Green House and Red House tailing with 592 and 505 respectively.

A family of athletes over the years, Anisha Turner shone for blue House capturing the Victrix Ludorum title.

Blue house tugged away with winning the tug-o-war, sweeping March past and the house rally.

In netball, Orange house won the Tournament while Green House won the Basketball tournament.

Blue and Green vs Orange and Red. Each house gained 10 point after the final score was tied at 2-2.

Below is a tabulation of champions in the different classes

Boys
Class Names Points House
5 Dvaughny Browne 15 Blue
4 Sidney Mendes 19 Green
3 Jose Reynolds 20 Blue
2 De’shawn Wilkins  15 Orange
1 Kenneth Walcott 37 Orange
       
Girls
Class Names Points House
5 Anisha Turner 45 Blue
4 Shaina Abrigo 16 Green
3 Annakay Turner 25 Blue
2 Oriana Johnson 20 Red
1 Theonna Johnson 11 Orange

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Beauty Plus Salon now opens in full-service expansion

By Bennette Roach
Miss Dagriee Wilson of Brades, Montserrat, realised a dream come true when she cut the ribbon to her new home of Beauty Plus Salon on Brades main road, in Cudjoe Head, only yards away from where she operated for several years past. A dream that Bishop Melroy Meade who was the master of ceremonies at a brief dedication of the Salon, described from his “own experience”, “it’s been hard work and many sleepless nights…”
The opening event took place at 5.30p.m. on Monday, April 17, 2017 at Brades, where a small gathering witnessed Dagriee cut the ribbon to her building following a brief ceremony with family, colleagues, patrons, well-wishers and friends, who heard Bishop Meade say, “…welcome all of you and trust that this short ceremony would be one which would make some sense,” followed by prayers where he thanked God, “for your goodness, we thank you for your mercy, we thank you God for your blessings … we pray God for what will convene here this evening…”
Former Government Minister of Communications & Works, Charles Kirnon is a close neighbor of Dagriee, spoke next and said: “Dagriee Wilson, my next-door neighbor, my friend, while most people go into the Diaspora, there’s a saying that they go for self-betterment; I think Dagriee has proven just that.”
He too spoke of her hard work he has seen, “the hours she has worked night and day, for hard work kills no one, but it gains success. And what we have here today is product of that hard work,” he said, recalling when she started and how small it was and what she has grown it.
The former Minister concluded with a toast before which he shared: “She was a woman on a mission and I believe this is part of the accomplishment of that mission which does not end here I’m sure. The writer that says, “the heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight but they while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night,” he said is quite applicable to Dagriee Wilson. “I pray God that your continue to grow from strength to strength God Bless you.”
Before Fr Vyphius offered prayers of dedication, a longtime patron as she describes herself. Mrs. Cynthia Dyett offered congratulations to Dagriee “on the opening of this new establishment.” Suggesting, “Dagriee has been experiencing some different kinds of stress as a woman dealing with construction, but she has endured and we are now here to enjoy with her, her new environment.”

She continued: “Dagriee normally tries to give us the best customer care that she can and we should be proud as customers that she wants better for herself and for her customers. I know God would continue to bless her, bless you Dagriee,” adding, “…as you go forward with new progress will come new challenges – but I know with her dedication and her attitude for work, a hard worker… we’re looking forward to your service and we’re all looking forward to this new environment like you and I know we’ll enjoy it.”
Before Dagriee said thanks, Fr. Vyphius offered prayers of dedication. “…If we do our work well whatever it may be and offer it to God we purify ourselves and through the labor of our own hands and minds we build up Gods creation. Our work enables us to practice charity and to help the less fortunate… Let us bless the Lord and pray that he will shower his blessings on all those who work in this place,” he prayed.
Following his blessing and sprinkling of the building, Fr. Vyphius declared the building open, upon which the Salon owner cut the ribbon circling the front doors.
Originally from Guyana, Miss Wilson who told TMR she first arrived in Montserrat in 1999 and immediately began providing hair care styling and products, recalls while giving thanks to Mrs. Nadine Tuitt a long standing and still operating hairdresser in Manjack, for her encouragement and support.
The Salon operative owner upon cutting the ribbon said thanks to those who joined with her at the ceremony. She was brief, undoubtedly anxious to show off the inside of her full-service salon said, “I would like to say thank you to everybody that is here, thank you to all my loyal customers over the years, new customers, well wishers, persons who give me kind words encouragement. Thank you to everybody for being here thank you,” as she led the way to what you can see a sample of in the photos here.

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St. Patrick’s Day week of festivities to be remembered

The true spirit of St. Patrick’s was on full display at the opening ceremony and rhythm on Friday evening, March 10, 2017. Amidst periodic power outages residents returning Montserratians and visitors alike enjoyed both the events that evening part of what promised to be a fun filled week of celebrations for St Patrick’s Day 2017.

Few of the visitors then had similar comments like, “It’s been ok we just came in last night so we haven’t seen much as yet so we’re just waiting – I’m enjoying it a lot can’t wait for more activities to come – I’m having a great time right now so just want the fun to keep going and just having a good day.

At the end, there was nothing but joyful, appreciative and happy comments. “There’s not one day like St. Patrick’s Day that you see so many people in one place at one time on Montserrat. The preference of food is just so amazing that they just bring out the green bananas, the breadfruit the beans everything. Everything is just the flavour are just blooming out. I just love the atmosphere everyone’s here having a good time doesn’t matter where you go, what you do everyone is having a good time…”

Throughout the week there continued to be much discussion about the aborted St. Patrick’s Day Lecture, which lecture is now very much an annual event, while the discourse continued also about the celebrations of St Patrick’s Day being, not primarily to honour its Irish heritage but to remember the nine slaves killed after a failed uprising on March 17, 1768. It is believed that a fellow slave chose to sell out the group who planned to fight for their freedom while the slave owners were celebrating.

Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo speaking at the closing of the festivities at the Heritage Feast on St Patrick’s Day the Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo called for the festival to maintain its uniqueness and inclusiveness.

“This festival stands on history, history that can teach us all a lesson. Two hundred and forty nine years ago while slave masters celebrated St. Patrick’s Day the slaves decided to take advantage of the merriness, merriment and drinking. They planned an uprising but it failed because of disunity,” he said.

He continued. “It will take unity and togetherness strategic hard work and the determination to overcome the challenges that remain and overcome we shall as a people. So as we build up towards next year’s two hundred and fiftieth anniversary let us take time to ponder on all the lessons to be learned in our history.”

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social media

Government warns of fake social media pages of Prime Minister and other officials

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Apr 10, CMC – The Haitian government has called for an “appropriate investigations” after fake social media websites naming Prime Minister Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant and the President of the Superior Council of the National Police (CSPN) have gone into circulation here.

social media“The creation of false accounts on social networks, using names and photos of people to circulate malicious messages, is a transnational crime,” according to a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister.

It said that the posts on social media contain the “full name, as well as photographs of the archives of the Prime Minister, Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant, also President of the Superior Council of the National Police (CSPN)”.

Prime Minister Lafontant has called on the technical and competent authorities “to carry out appropriate investigations to identify counterfeiters and to deal with them with the utmost rigor”.

He reminded users that his official account on the social media, including Facebook, “is doubly authenticated by the username “@jglafontant”, as well as by his name Jack Guy Lafontant checked-by a “V” of blue colour”.

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Think now about St. Patrick’s Day week of activities, to make it count

Think now about St. Patrick’s Day week of activities, to make it count

We did not publish a newspaper on March 17, 2017, which date would not have been used, the day being the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, declared some 32 years ago in 1985. But it is a wonder how many would know the reason for the non-publication. And the truth perhaps, who cares!

However, if we did publish, the news would have certainly concentrated on the events of the week; the events of festivities and celebrations, the events staged for entertainment, most of which were cause of annoyance for a few who continue to ponder and question, some even including the Catholics who remember the real reason the day is remembered or commemorated, it being the feast day of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of the church parish in Montserrat.

And yes, the questions and ponderings that made up the failed UWI local campus St. Patrick’s Day Lecture, now a fixture on the week of activities calendar, and easily, outside a couple rerouted events, the only disappointment perhaps, for the week.

From here that failure should have served as instructive to existence in Montserrat, instead of being so very badly misrepresented as far as the early and continued willingness to blame conveniently the wrong people for a sequence of events that should probably not have begun as far the nonperformance of the Lecture. (See the facts in the front-page story in this issue from the eventual main players) The topic of that Lecture: “St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in Montserrat: Cultural Development or Cultural Irresponsibility.”

Thus we remember, but can the question be understood, asked 17 years ago by C. Kirnon in an article: “Have we joined forces and fought for the common good of all? Or do we just portray St. Patrick’s Day Heroism by delivering speeches, writing books and poems, and perhaps staging skits and plays?”

There were several other thoughts expressed and questions asked in the article, and we highlight once again, the beginning of the article, for the time being.

This was in 2000. “It is now 232 years since the 1768 planned slave revolt in Montserrat. As background let me remind you the readers that on the 17th of March 1768, the slaves on Montserrat decided to overthrow their masters and thus gain their freedom. Remember they were not treated as equals but rather like beasts of burden. They were forced to work for long hours and were beaten if they tried to rest.”

There were all kinds of expressions, yes freedom of expression at work, but it is our suggestion, that when that is exercised we should seek always to do so on a sound foundation and with good purpose.

A sentiment expressed somewhere: “Members of the public who were in attendance and others who were waiting to view via live stream said the cancellation of the lecture based on government interference was blatant censorship and felt like a modern day 1768 betrayal.” Opinion? Maybe, expressed too early, to be kind.

Here is someone’s description which may just be a part of or maybe just an expression of an incomplete take on what is a commemoration rather than celebration. “Montserrat celebrates St. Patrick’s Day not primarily to honour its Irish heritage but to remember the nine slaves killed after a failed uprising on March 17, 1768. It is believed that a fellow slave chose to sell out the group who planned to fight for their freedom while the slave owners were celebrating.”

For the coming 250th year of the slaves uprising, beginning with the topic of the lecture that was never delivered, its contents may serve a good spring board to operate from to put all the facts and opinions together, to truly once and for all get an understanding of what it is that is commemorated and/or celebrated.

Whatever is done must take on board what was said in that article in 2000. “I am not for one minute saying that we have not had our heroic moments, for we have. Over the years we have had marches, demonstrations, strikes, enacting of Legislation to protect our basic human rights and freedoms. For instance, the right to rote, freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to own land and other property.

The sad thing is that this cowardly, undermining and, betrayal attitude, that was evidenced back in 1768, has transcended time and generations. Today it permeates our society like a cancer…”

 

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St. Patrick’s Festival gets on the way tonight at the Heritage Village

St. Patrick’s Festival gets on the way tonight at the Heritage Village

By Bennette Roach

The St. Patrick’s week of activities will kick off tonight, after Market Day, with the continued promise of the Festival Committee, that it will continue to celebrate and preserve the islands unique cultural heritage.

There will be National Service at the Lookout Roman Catholic Church remembering St. Patrick its patron Saint after whom the church is named.

It is a packed week of events to include, such as the calypso soca monarch competition will form part of the festivities, so too will be the Junior calypso competition as well beauty pageants show.

National Awareness Day, Business Development Expo Day. Then on St. Patrick’s Day, 17th – in one day – Jump Up at 5:00 a.m. (Kaution Band), Freedom Run & Walk from Cudjoe Head to MSS; Breakfast at Salem Centre; the Heritage Feast from 12:00 noon; Salem Village Parade; a Cultural Show at Heritage Village, Salem; String Band, Onyan & 3-Cylinder; GRAND RAFFLE – “BMW”; St. Patrick’s Day Lecture and more. (See the Calendar in this issue and widely circulated. (Dress in National Colours)

Justin Hero Cassell who has worked with this Festival for many years gone to now said, “It’s a sort of Irish Montserrat Afro Caribbean culture; I think that we have not lost that, we still maintain some of the traditional things.”

He was speaking in face of criticisms over the years, that the Festival is without meaning, or has lost its reason for the celebrities. “We can’t live in the past! The world evolves and we have to move with it. St. Patrick’s is now a mammoth festival. So to kill that criticism it has grown from a ‘handful’ of persons to way over three, four thousand people in Salem…”

Much is said of the beginnings of the Festival and the holiday; how it evolved and grew to what it has become today; how perhaps it is misused and marketed for economic benefit to the island. Some of the arguments deserve discussion, but some attempt should also be made to get the facts first into perspective.

Have they even got close as to how the day got noticed, as it began out of the Roman Catholic annual celebration of the church on Montserrat’s patron saint St. Patrick? Even when they quote Sir Howard’s historical account, there is little mention of that important fact.

The controversy is usually centered around the ‘Irish connection/Irish heritage) and the African/slave heritage and the March 17, 1768 slave uprising.

But, why the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day? It is gradually losing its origin – the feast day of St. Patrick; and we hear less and less of: “the Irish people exiled by Cromwell, and African slaves who arrived on Montserrat…… the failed slave uprising on March 171768,” which led to the celebration of St Patrick’s Day.

All of these happenings from nearly three centuries ago were from corruptible minds and acts to those who ratted on those seeking freedom, stolen from them. The history of what went on then does not make good reading, but should be taught and discussed.

All can learn the root of the sufferings. Remember those behind it all are today at the head of it all. Even when it appears that action is being taken to repair the damage, those actions are just as corrupt.

When the celebrations take place it should be noted who St. Patrick was and what he stood for. Montserrat was colonised by the British and Irish in 1632. France later held it briefly, but from 1783 it remained British. Its colonial economy was based on cotton and sugar plantations that used African slave labour, and the story goes on.

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Guyana flags

Guyana celebrating Mashramani

by STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 23, CMC – Guyana is marking the 47th anniversary of republican status with President David Granger saying it provides an opportunity to “celebrate the uniqueness of our nationhood”.

Addressing the flag raising ceremony at D’urban Park, Granger paid tribute to early inhabitants of the country whom he said “have welded our country, irreversibly, into a plural society.

“The Republic guaranteed greater cultural freedom, encouraged diverse beliefs, respected differences of creed, culture, race or religion and entrenched constitutional protection to proscribe discrimination.

Guyana flags“The Republic started the task of shaping a society that was culturally plural by promoting the unhindered celebration of the Christian, Islamic and the Hindu festivals. The Republic aspired to ensure that we would live together in harmony free from racial and religious conflict,” he added.

Granger said Guyana is committed to eliminating extreme poverty, eradicating inequalities; expanding the space for cultural diversity and enhancing the sense of national belonging.

He said the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country is becoming a more socially cohesive country, working “towards the well-being of all its members, fights exclusion and marginalisation, creates a sense of belonging [and] promotes trust.

“Guyana’s various cultural threads have been interwoven into the tapestry of nationhood. We celebrate, today, our republicanism and our pluralism. We have achieved unity by our diversity.”

In his address, President Granger highlighted the contributions of East Indians to the country’s development as they also celebrate the 100th anniversary of their arrival here as indentured servants.

He said said 2017 is an opportunity for Guyana to celebrate the contributions of the Indian community and credited the almost 240,000 Indians, who were transported to then British Guiana from 1838 to work mainly on sugar plantations, with contributing to the cultural and economic development of Guyana.

“Most of the indentured immigrants remained to make our country their home at the end of their contracts of service. They invigorated our cultural life with devotional festivals, colourful dress, tasty foods, vivacious dance, vibrant music, two great world religions – Hinduism and Islam – and other cultural retentions.

“Indian indentured immigration reshaped our economic landscape by making an indelible mark on the cattle, coconut, fishing, rice and sugar industries. The Indian impact is visible on every aspect of national life – the arts, business, diplomacy, education, engineering, industry, jewellery, law, media, medicine, politics, the public service and trade unionism,” he said.

President Granger said Guyana’s 47th anniversary as a republic “is a happy occasion to celebrate the uniqueness of our nationhood” intensified efforts to unite the descendants of fore-parents who were brought to these shores, either as enslaved workers or indentured labourers, to toil on the plantations.

“Independence reminded us, also, that it was their struggles – their resistance, revolts and riots on the plantations – which helped to make their descendants a free people and to make this country a free state.

“The establishment of the Cooperative Republic on 23rd February 1970 intensified our efforts to unite our peoples into a plural nation under the inspirational motto – ‘One people, One nation, One destiny’,” he said.

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