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2019 BVI general election


Country and people interest matters we might give as a reason that we almost lost sight or rather did not post re General elections which were held in the British Virgin Islands Monday, on  February 25, 2019.[1] For the first time, four parties with at least one incumbent member were contesting an election.

Premier Andrew Fahie

The result was a decisive victory for the Virgin Islands Party, which won eight of the 13 elected seats under the leadership of Andrew Fahie. The ruling National Democratic Party won only three seats, with new party leader Myron Walwyn losing his seat.[2]

Seven of the thirteen seats were won by candidates contesting an election for the first time, all for the Virgin Islands Party, a territory record.

In June 2018 the Premier and leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Orlando Smith indicated he would be stepping down and not contesting the next general election.[9] In the subsequent leadership contest the party chose Education Minister Myron Walwyn to lead the party into the next election.[10]

The elections were the first in the British Virgin Islands to use electronically tabulated voting rather that manual counts.[3] Voter turnout was 65.26%.

Election monitors reported that they saw “no real evidence of corruption”, but highlighted a large influx of voter registrations in Districts 5 and 8 which had been regarded in some quarters as potential attempt to manipulate results.[4]

14,866 of the registered voters representing 65.3% turned out to vote.

Background

The House of Assembly normally sits in four year terms. The Governor must dissolve the House within four years of the date when the House first meets after a general election unless it has been dissolved sooner.[5] Once the House is dissolved a general election must be held after at least 21 days, but not more than two months after the dissolution of the House. The third session of the House of Assembly first met on 23 June 2015,[6] and therefore in the ordinary course of things the latest possible date of the next British Virgin Islands general election would have been one day short of four years and two months after that date, i.e. on 22 August 2019.

However, Delores Christopher, member of the House of Assembly representing the 5th District died on 16 October 2018.[7] There was broad agreement that it was undesirable to hold two elections so close together (a by-election to appoint a new representative for the 5th District, followed by a general election). Accordingly, after taking legal advice and consulting with the Premier Orlando Smith the Governor, Augustus Jaspert, advised that it had been agreed that no separate by-election should be held, and the election would be held on or before 16 April 2019.[8]

The House of Assembly was dissolved on 23 January 2019 and an election date was immediately announced for 25 February 2019.[1]

New leaders and new parties

Both of the main political parties which had contested the prior election had leadership contests, and in both cases the person who lost the leadership contest left to form their own party. Accordingly, in the 2019 election there will be an unprecedented four different political parties with at least one sitting member contesting the general election.

National Democratic Party

Former Premier (retired and did not contest elections)

In June 2018 the Premier and leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Orlando Smith indicated he would be stepping down and not contesting the next general election.[9] In the subsequent leadership contest the party chose Education Minister Myron Walwyn to lead the party into the next election.[10]

In the wake of Dr Smith’s announced retirement, rumours of splits within the ruling National Democratic Party began to circulate almost immediately.[11] Eventually Ronnie Skelton, runner up in the leadership contest, left to form his own political party,[12] named the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM).[13][14]

Second District Representative Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull also left the NDP to join Skelton,[15] as did at-large representative, Archie Christian.[16] Certain media houses began to sarcastically refer to the PVIM as “NDP 2”.[17]

Virgin Islands Party

The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) also had a leadership contest, and the sitting leader, Julian Fraser, was ousted by the challenger, Andrew Fahie. Fraser subsequently announced he would leave the VIP and set up his own party, which he called Progressives United (PU).[18][19]

Controversies

Myron Walwyn eligibility issue

In the run up to the election there were repeated suggestions in the press that Myron Walwyn was not eligible for election to the House of Assembly because his parents are not from the BVI. His father is from Nevis and his mother is from Antigua.[20][21] Leader of the opposition Virgin Islands Party, Andrew Fahie, distanced himself from questions about Walwyn’s eligibility.[22]

Speaker of the House issue

Some controversy arose when leaked lists of candidates suggested that the speaker of the House, Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe, was to stand as an NDP candidate.[23] A number of public figures, the most prominent being Deputy Premier Kedrick Pickering, expressed concern at her being held out as a candidate for a political party whilst occupying the position of Speaker of the House.[24] Ms Moses-Scatliffe refused to confirm or deny that she would be a candidate for the NDP, and the Attorney General rendered an opinion indicating that even if she were, this would not legally preclude her from acting as Speaker of the House in the interim. Ultimately she was not named as a candidate.

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Redhead on the bench in Montserrat - DSC_5880 web

Justice Albert Redhead dies

Some sections of the legal fraternity here and across the Eastern Caribbean are said to in mourning at the news of the death of retired Justice Albert Redhead who died on March 4 after a brief period of illness in Antigua.

Justice on the bench in Montserrat

He has been referred to as a “powerhouse’ while Justice Keith Thom, the husband of Justice Gertel Thom who sat with Justice Redhead on the bench to officially mark in Montserrat, said of Justice Redhead a former colleague was a ‘legal giant’.

“He was my mentor and my friend. I recall the days when I appeared before him as a prosecutor. Every day was a learning experience,” he said, adding that he was happy he was able to express his love and respect directly to Justice Redhead when he was alive.

According to the Antigua Daily Observer, there have been similar sentiments expressed as tributes poured in throughout the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Bar Association.

Justice Redhead has served throughout the OECS region. He was called to the bar of England and Wales in 1972 and two years later he moved to Saint Kitts and Nevis where he began working as a Crown Counsel. He moved on to being Registrar of the High Court and also served as a magistrate of the courts. In 1980 he became the Director of Public Prosecutions for Saint Kitts and Nevis, before moving on to becoming a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court ECSC in 1985.

In 1997 he became an Appeals Court Judge of the same court, serving often in Montserrat, retiring in 2003 but was re-appointed more than once thereafter to act as a judge in the High Court in several countries in the OECS.

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National Security Minister condemns murders of school students

National Security Minister condemns murders of school students

by staff writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 9, CMC – National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang has condemned the murders of two students of the Donald Quarrie High School, who were killed by gunmen as they slept at their home in Portmore, St. Catherine on  the south east of the island on Thursday night.

Police said that 14 year-old Brittany Allen and 15 year-old David Cameron, were lying in a bed when gunmen entered and shot the teenagers in their heads.

“When young, high school students are killed, the loss to the nation cannot be quantified,” Chang said in a statement, adding that the “the community has taken on a culture of violent crime.

“The police continue to improve their response capabilities through the strengthening the Anti-Gang Task Force, to better manage areas of high crime and gang violence, to support the efforts of the police, we will increase expenditure to programmes that teach our youth life skills, discipline and patience,” he said, appealing to all Jamaicans to refrain from using violence as a method of resolving conflict.

“We must return to a nation where we are our brothers’ keepers and where life is considered sacred. Violence is never the solution,” he said.

Earlier this week, Chang also condemned the murder of six-year-old Jordanion Hodges, describing it as “a brutal and heartless act”.

Police said that Kuwayne Hemmings, 27, who was transporting Hodges along the Windsor main road in the St. James parish on the north west end of the island, was also killed.

“The killing of this child saddens me,” Chang said, adding “this kind of brazen assault on our people and this disregard for the life of a child will not be tolerated”.

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Attorney Warren Cassell

Brandt’s trial wavers

Brandt addressing court at Justice
Redhead’s retirement

Attorney-at-Law David S. Brandt, a former chief minister of Montserrat was arrested and charged on Monday, September 21, 2015, on sexually related charges allegedly involving minors dating back to 2010, has had several legal interventions through the appellate courts.

Now on new and or adjusted charges, the news is that new Justice Garret Evans has decided that the trial will take place in June or early July this year.

But, there arose seemingly new problems which suggest a trial may not take place on the matters.

As recorded earlier, “The man known as ‘the man of the people’ and still popularly referred to politically as, ‘The Heavy Roller’ is second to former Premier Reuben T Meade who served for 25 years non-stop from 1991 – 2014, and he for 23 years as the longest serving legislators in Montserrat alive…”

The new dispute is that the prosecution had allegedly told the court that Mr. Brandt would not receive a fair trial in Montserrat and ask that the matter be transferred to another jurisdiction, creating a problem for the trial taking place at all. Mr. Oris Sullivan, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Montserrat disputes the information and according to reports has told ZJB News that the decision made by Justice Evans for the trial to proceed, was based on the eight counts on which Mr Brandt is being charged including exploitation of girls under the age of 18 years.”  

Mr. Sullivan has said: “…that Mr Brandt is capable of having a fair trial in Montserrat. In fact Justice Evans has ruled that having regard of the evidence before him that Mr Brandt is capable of having a fair trial on Montserrat.”

DPP Oris Sullivan

Sullivan said he is responding to “all sorts of rumours or statements that the crown raise the issue that Mr. Brandt is incapable of getting a fair trial,” citing that as being the issue on the matter.

“Of course the issue was raised…before the court. Let me set the records straight and say the crown did not raise that issue before the court,” Sullivan says, explaining: “The issue the crown raised before the court was to bring the courts attention to the fact that Mr. Brandt is a very influential person and the selection of a jury might prove difficult in those circumstances. We are always of the view that Mr. Brandt will get a fair trial in Montserrat. He is not the only high profiled person to be tried on Montserrat.”

Attorney Warren Cassell

But, Attorney Warren Cassell, who contends he is not a member of Brandt’s defence team as reported, has expressed surprise at the DPP’s utterings. “I was pretty much surprised to hear the DPP on radio saying that they always thought that Mr. Brandt could get a fair trial in Montserrat, he says.

“In fact on the tenth day of January 2018,” Cassell continues, “the said DPP and his cohorts to include Annesta Weekes QC (who is the lead prosecutor in the matters) made an application to the court to transfer the trial to another jurisdiction, and in their submission they said, and I am quoting from it, I have a copy, and it is date stamped, ‘filed in the in the court – (it says) “we submit that it is not possible to ensure a fair trial of this defendant if a jury in Montserrat is empanelled…”

“So as a minister of justice,” Cassell concludes, “he is misleading the public to now come and say that it was always their contention that Mr. Brandt can get a fair trial.”

Earlier Cassell had expressed the view that since the prosecution had said Brandt could not get a fair trial in Montserrat, with the defence agreeing, and that according to him there being no legal provision for such matter to be heard except in front of his peers as the law requires, there can then be no trial.

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Bank of Montserrat Ltd

Unclaimed Dividends – OVER 15 YEARS
As At September 30, 2018

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Are there dozens of “genders” and “sexual orientations” to be protected by law?

Are there dozens of “genders” and “sexual orientations” to be protected by law?

Contribution  

(A special – part 3)

Is it bigotry comparable to racism to challenge today’s radical sexual agendas (and their champions in the FAC)?

BRADES, Montserrat, March 4, 2019 – This is no longer a day of live and let live about sexual identity, orientation and gender identity. That is the message sent by the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee when they demanded that the five Caribbean OT’s fall in line and pass laws to homosexualise marriage or face imposition by the UK. The FAC went so far as to speak of a “bar” – language previously used to speak of the racist colour bar used to rob colonised Africans of their rights. Clearly, if one dares to challenge the radical sexual activists, she or he can expect to be labelled irrational – a “phobia” is an irrational fear – and will be targetted, smeared and pushed into the same boat as racists. We cannot have a serious conversation under such polarised and hostile circumstances; but, a serious conversation is always the first thing we need if we are to make sound policy decisions and law. Something is wrong, deeply wrong.

To see just how badly wrong, let’s start with a few of the dozens of “genders” that are now being touted by the activists. These are taken from the Genderfluid Support web site’s “master list” (which runs from A to V):

“Any gender named _gender may be made into _boy, _girl, _nonbinary, etc. . . . .

Abimegender: a gender that is profound, deep, and infinite; meant to resemble when one mirror is reflecting into another mirror creating an infinite paradox Adamasgender: a gender which refuses to be categorized Aerogender: a gender that is influenced by your surroundings Aesthetigender: a gender that is derived from an aesthetic; also known as videgender Affectugender: a gender that is affected by mood swings Agender: the feeling of no gender/absence of gender or neutral gender Agenderflux: Being agender and having fluctuating feelings of masculinity or femininity, but NOT male or female”

These are literally the first seven items on the “master list.” And yes, that is the sort of obviously irrational confusion that is now on the table. A chaos that results from rejecting our naturally evident creation order. As we saw last time, “those who try to tamper with marriage or twist sex out of its right place are playing with ruinous fire.” So, let us instead turn to the patent clarity and good sense that Jesus taught:

“Have you never read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined inseparably to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” [Matt 19:4 – 6, AMP.]

But, what about sexual orientation, homosexuality, being gay or lesbian or bisexual? (After all, “sexual orientation” is protected in the Bill of Rights in Montserrat’s 2010 Constitution Order.)

The US-based Abortion-promoting Organisation, Planned Parenthood, suggests:

“Sexual orientation is about who you’re attracted to and who you feel drawn to romantically, emotionally, and sexually. It’s different than gender identity. Gender identity isn’t about who you’re attracted to, but about who you ARE — male, female, genderqueer, etc. ”

Such definitions are of course always a work in progress, subject to extension as the radical agendas proceed. One may be sexually attracted and drawn to underage boys or girls, or to animals, or these days even robots. As was pointed out to the framers of the 2010 Constitution Order, “sexual orientation” is a psychological term not a legal one and it is dangerously vague and open to being pushed further and further into hitherto unmentionable territory. Already, we are seeing dozens of bizarre “gender” identities being touted. A warning.

But, aren’t these things genetically programmed so people cannot help what their genes made them do?

No. As we noted in the first article in this special series:

“. . . no complicated human behaviour has ever been shown to be actually determined by our genes. We are not mindless robots. The search for gay genes has unsurprisingly clearly failed despite the impressions given by the media and by ill-advised education. Instead, we are responsible, morally governed, conscience-guided. This clearly includes our sexual behaviour: our sexual attractions, acts and habits are under moral government. Of course, our impulses and behaviours can sometimes trap us in addictive, hard to escape patterns of life that are unwise, ill-advised (or even outright irrational), abnormal, damaging, disease-spreading, insanitary, destructive.

Common sense speaks again: such people need help.”

The above list of “genders” makes it very clear that that help needs to be psychological and spiritual. It is not for nothing that the Apostle Paul warned about the consequences of a civilisation turning its back on God, in Rom 1: 28 – 29: “since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil.” [AMP]

That is the bottom line: will we or will we not respect our Creator? We can already see the grim consequences of turning our backs on him. Finally, principled, concerned, compassionate questioning of and/or objection to the radical sexual agendas of our day is simply not bigotry equivalent to racism. That defamation stands exposed and must be retracted and apologised for. It is time to return our civilisation to sounder footing.

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Alvin Martin’s nolle prosequi

by a Contributor

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Oris Sullivan issued a nolle prosequi in a case, ending what court observers described was more of persecution than prosecution, of an assault charge against Mr. Alvin Martin, an industrial art – technical teacher at the Montserrat Secondary School, after a two-year wait. DPP  claimed he had enough evidence to successfully convict Mr. Martin. However out of a sense of generosity, the prosecution is ending the case.

Long standing defense counsel Mr. David Brandt argued that according to law, the case should have been concluded within a six-month period and suggested that the case was without merit in the first place. The student in question the attorney argued did not side with the prosecution. In fact according to him he was declared a ‘hostile’ witness by the prosecution as the student maintained in court that Mr. Martin did not bite him on his lip as claimed.

Student witnesses on the spot at the time of the incident also denied the prosecution’s claim.

ZJB News reporting on the matter said that Mr. Martin reported that the incident was grossly and maybe intentionally exaggerated by the school’s administration. No one at the school or the Ministry discussed the student-teacher contact with him before he was arrested and suspended from his job. “The fact is,” he says, “Ministry officials did not entertain him when he made requests to present his side of the story.” Martin accordingly said that a key Ministry official told him: “I have already heard the Principal’s version of the story,” and dismissed him.

Last year, another male teacher at the MSS was acquitted of assault in a matter we reported, should never have seen the courts. The concern for the public in such matters is the fall out that can result from matters of such nature and the cost to the public purse to be paying out monies, for no service as well as replacement teachers.

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market day - DSC_2764

Market Day in Salem

Opening up a period of healthy remembrance and celebrations

By B. Roach

A ZJB report gives account of Agricultural Minister David Osborne praising farmers who he said have been braving adverse conditions to ensure that the island is self-sufficient in certain agricultural produce.

The day was staged today beginning at the crack of dawn and as our photo shows farmers are seen setting up their vegetable, plants and even pastry stalls, of varying descriptions.

Small section of plants were on show – for sale

The Minister boasted that the day’s event hosted in Salem because of the beginning of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, was sending a message that Montserrat is bouncing back and forging ahead with agricultural production. He mentioned the abundance of @fresh organically grown onions, carrots and cabbage, lettuce and tomatoes, among other vegetables.

Pastries, sugar cakes, coconut cakes

Visitor and residents alike agree with the Minister, the day was a success, but there were some disgruntled onlookers who asked the question, what was the purpose of building a market in Little Bay if market days would be held elsewhere. But the counter is that they have missed the point, adding, “maybe here should not have been a market built for that purpose.”

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It will be some time before it reaches the stage to seek 'political' independence, but...

It will be some time before it reaches the stage to seek ‘political’ independence, but…

March 8, 2019

We should make it clear, we are not calling for independence of Britain, and all that goes with that, on the issues and controversies emanating from the seemingly asseverate position the UK wants to hold over the OTs, in particular those who do not wish to adhere to such especially positions concerning ‘same sex marriage’, and beneficial ownerships of companies, beneficial ownership of companies register, the right to vote for UK citizens resident in Bermuda, and legalisation of same-sex marriage.

We are suggesting that while it will be a decade perhaps or more before Montserrat can claim to just balance its own recurrent budget, much more claim economic independence, or being in a 1995 pre-volcanic crisis, we must be prepared for the hardship that comes with being free of enslavement to having to accept that which the people believe goes against their being.

We noted the other day about what seemed a new phrase, in the sense we had not heard it used often before, that of political independence as against ‘independence’, creating the reality that indeed very few nations in the world if any can claim economic independence. And we can keep this well within the region and narrow it down further to CARICOM and OECS nations. Then consider Montserrat’s place with its unique position and standing having since 1995 having to face a ‘virgin’ situation of building a new country.

We will never forget Minister of State “I mean, where else in the world would some face a disaster like that and still come out smiling and determined to get things going again. The admiration we have for that gives us that extra bit of drive.”

Promote the vision of the OTs as part of the British family, flourishing and vibrant, and less financially dependent.

Does the vision to do this require the soul of the people of Montserrat, and in extension that of all Overseas Territories?

Note Bermuda’s position on issues also coming out of that FAC Report, while the Premier asked London to dismiss a report that recommends British expatriates living in this British Overseas Territory get to vote.

He rejected calls for independence — a longstanding aim of the ruling Progressive Labour Party — but said the stance on cutting ties with Britain could change.

So we must join the thoughts and desires of the other OTs who deplore those ideas which go against the mandate that says: “…to protect our way of life. For democracy to work anywhere – the people’s voice must be heard – and must be respected!”

Specifically, we share the BVI’s new Premier who says: “We value our relations with the UK, and we do hope that Westminster, values and understand the special circumstances of small island territories as ours; that they are sensitive to our culture, customs and values which have been fashioned by history and geography, and our faith in God,”

And do you know our Constitution begins with that? See the Preamble:

“Acknowledging that their society is founded on… the rule of law and the supremacy of God;…”

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Premier Romeo’s Statement at the memorial service for The Right Hon Professor Dr. George Irish (Harlem, New York, March 1, 2019)

Premier Romeo’s Statement at the memorial service for The Right Hon Professor Dr. George Irish (Harlem, New York, March 1, 2019)

Premier Donaldson Romeo

First and foremost, on behalf of the Government and the People of Montserrat wherever they may be, I would like to express profound condolences with wishes of peace and consolation to the wife, children, close relatives, and friends of The Right Hon Professor Dr. George Irish – son and hero of our native land.

Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again.  

I consider it a great privilege to be allowed to stand before you today to honour a great Montserratian whose life has left so many memories, indelible footprints, in all of our hearts.

He has left enduring footprints in our civic life and education, through trade union activity, the Credit Union, political activism and speeches, through lectures, sermons, classes and informal chats.

He has left his mark on Montserratian culture. Memories of the University Centre packed with people: Arrow on stage performing in his platform shoes, Gus white singing his heart out, Joe West playing the role of Willie Bramble, the newly formed Community Singers bringing National pride tears to our eyes with “Oh Montserrat in the Carib Sea”.

He impacted my own home, particularly through my mother, a firm fan of his. In the Black Power days of the late Sixties and early Seventies, we all wore afros, and our mother sewed up a storm of dashikis for the whole family, for just about every occasion. More importantly, we were taught to wear these symbols of our African heritage with pride, just as he did, as an outward sign of an inner liberation.

For, as sons and daughters of slaves, Montserratians had long learnt to be ashamed of our past, of the culture that had grown out of this past, of our so called “bad English”, of our very selves.

Doc Irish’s enthusiasm for Montserratian ness, for our history, our stories, our music, our jokes and our twang, was contagious, and made a priceless contribution to a joyous sense of national pride and celebration. He has left an imprint that goes way deeper than activism, deeper than clothes, or cultural events. He has left us a legacy of freedom and dignity that is encoded in the DNA of our little Caribbean Rock.

But no one could know Doc Irish for very long, especially in the later years of his life, without realizing that this was a man who loved and feared his God.

He clearly understood that the most important footprints any person can leave behind are not those, however inspiring, left in the shifting sands of time, but those he or she has made from standing firmly on the Eternal Rock of Ages.

Though I won’t see him again on the little Rock he loved so well, I hope with all my heart to see him again when God, through the Eternal Rock of ages, calls all His sleeping children back to vibrant life.

Thanks and may God bless us all.

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