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Albert Evans

Who won the European election: the alliances that could shape the future of the EU

Albert Evans

Albert Evans – May 27, 2019

The new European Parliament must approve the next head of the European Commission – who will play a large role in Brexit talks

While European elections in the UK have been dominated by domestic concerns over Brexit, the votes cast by the citizens of the other 27 member states will play a key role in shaping the EU institutions that the British will have to deal with in negotiations.

The decline of the two largest groupings in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialist’s and Democrats (S&D) has meant a coalition between the two parties cannot gain the 376 seats needed to form a majority.

Spitzenkandidat

The European Parliament on May 11, 2016 in Strasbourg, France. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

With the lead candidate, or spitzenkandidat system, whoever can gain a majority in the Parliament must approve the President of European Commission, the bloc’s powerful civil service, who is nominated by the heads’ member states in the European Council.

The European Council is meeting on Tuesday for the first set of talks about who will head up the Commission. A qualified majority of the Council need to approve one candidate, which means 55 percent of member states, or 16 of the 28, that also must represent at least 65 percent of the EU’s population.

Any decision they take will take into account the makeup of the Parliament, which is a very different picture after the results of the election.

With the EPP and S&D grouping – which UK Labour Party is a member of – unable to form their own majority smaller groupings are now in a prime position to play an greater role in the formation of the next Commission, who will be the UK’s counter party in Brexit talks.

Coalition building

European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), bolstered by MEPs from Emmanuel Macron’s Republic En Marche Party and the UK’s Liberal Democrats, who made considerable gains in Thursday’s vote, are well placed to capitalise with 109 MEPs.

The grouping, led by outspoken Belgian MEP Guy Verhoftstadt could help form a grand coalition with the two blocs, which could be further increased by the addition of the Greens-European Free Alliance grouping.

Read more: these are all the new UK MEPs

S&D, ALDE and the Greens also have enough seats to form a majority in the parliament without the EPP that has been the largest party in the Parliament since 1999.

A growing Eurosceptic fringe in the Parliament, which includes Nigel Farage’s triumphant Brexit Party, is unlikely to enter any coalition with other groupings that are all primarily pro-European.

Next European Commission President?

Manfred Weber lead candidate for the post of president of the European Commission on behalf of the European People’s Party. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The EPP’s lead candidate, Jean Claude-Juncker, who has run the Commission since 2014, will make way for the next Commission President but there are suggestions that the institution’s mandate could be extended if talks drag on.

The Parliament will have its first opportunity to approve a new Commission President on 11 July, which with the EPP on 180 MEPs looks likely to be its lead candidate Manfred Weber.

But before that Mr Weber must be nominated by the heads of member states, some of whom do not approve of the spitzenkandidat system, who may try to nominate other candidates, despite his backing from powerful German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Weber is holding talks with other parties, but will be acutely aware that decisions may be taken at a nation state level that means he is never voted on by the Parliament.

It may be sometime before the UK knows just what type of Commission will be on the other side of the table.

Who won the European election: the alliances that could shape the future of the EU – inews.co.uk


While European elections in the UK have been dominated by domestic concerns over Brexit, the votes cast by the citizens of the other 27 member states will play a key role in shaping the EU institutions that the British will have to deal with in negotiations.

The decline of the two largest groupings in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialist’s and Democrats (S&D) has meant a coalition between the two parties cannot gain the 376 seats needed to form a majority.

Spitzenkandidat

The European Parliament on May 11, 2016 in Strasbourg, France. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

With the lead candidate, or spitzenkandidat system, whoever can gain a majority in the Parliament must approve the President of European Commission, the bloc’s powerful civil service, who is nominated by the heads’ member states in the European Council.

The European Council is meeting on Tuesday for the first set of talks about who will head up the Commission. A qualified majority of the Council need to approve one candidate, which means 55 percent of member states, or 16 of the 28, that also must represent at least 65 percent of the EU’s population.

Any decision they take will take into account the makeup of the Parliament, which is a very different picture after the results of the election.

With the EPP and S&D grouping – which UK Labour Party is a member of – unable to form their own majority smaller groupings are now in a prime position to play an greater role in the formation of the next Commission, who will be the UK’s counter party in Brexit talks.

Coalition building

European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), bolstered by MEPs from Emmanuel Macron’s Republic En Marche Party and the UK’s Liberal Democrats, who made considerable gains in Thursday’s vote, are well placed to capitalise with 109 MEPs.

The grouping, led by outspoken Belgian MEP Guy Verhoftstadt could help form a grand coalition with the two blocs, which could be further increased by the addition of the Greens-European Free Alliance grouping.

Read more: these are all the new UK MEPs

S&D, ALDE and the Greens also have enough seats to form a majority in the parliament without the EPP that has been the largest party in the Parliament since 1999.

A growing Eurosceptic fringe in the Parliament, which includes Nigel Farage’s triumphant Brexit Party, is unlikely to enter any coalition with other groupings that are all primarily pro-European.

Next European Commission President?

Manfred Weber lead candidate for the post of president of the European Commission on behalf of the European People’s Party. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The EPP’s lead candidate, Jean Claude-Juncker, who has run the Commission since 2014, will make way for the next Commission President but there are suggestions that the institution’s mandate could be extended if talks drag on.

The Parliament will have its first opportunity to approve a new Commission President on 11 July, which with the EPP on 180 MEPs looks likely to be its lead candidate Manfred Weber.

But before that Mr Weber must be nominated by the heads of member states, some of whom do not approve of the spitzenkandidat system, who may try to nominate other candidates, despite his backing from powerful German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Weber is holding talks with other parties, but will be acutely aware that decisions may be taken at a nation state level that means he is never voted on by the Parliament.

It may be sometime before the UK knows just what type of Commission will be on the other side of the table.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

Change the idle discourse, there is only one choice going forward

Change the idle discourse, there is only one choice going forward

May 24, 2019

We never understood why a single presentation about the already accepted benefits of ‘medical marijuana’ having been abruptly pulled off the radio station, was not seen by the courts as an infringement on the person’s freedom of expression, but rather as some right to protect from ‘criminal’ activity. The matter is still to be resolved at the Appeal Courts – Privy Council level.

Within months after that not only that the said discussion was hyped up to another level with phrases such as legalising or decriminalising marijuana, indeed some measure of that has been done all around the world, US, UK, the Caribbean, etc.

Jumping forward we hear all kinds of ‘chatter’ about the subject, with the only attempt being done at any discussion on what IS or at least somewhat a fairly complex matter, a mission from CARICOM, or was it OECS that held a one-night forum here.

What is done anywhere else in the world, be it next door or at the farthest end of the world, when it is good, no one shouts or even smell adaptation, yet we seem so ready to accept and jump in the tub with suspect activities without any real discussion, education where necessary and understanding so we can benefit from the good if any in what is taking place.

The ‘idle and deep down baseless, goalless’ chatter surrounding ‘marijuana’ which is is nothing more than political gimmicks, is not worthy of discussion in the Legislative Assembly. All that does is a lack understanding and appreciation for what that the Speaker tried to explain it ought to be a few weeks ago. There was a time when regional discussions looked to Montserrat representation for the guide when all or most of the issues were scattered.

This is an issue that deserves far more than what has been reaching our airwaves. Already every week, nearly every day there is news of the fall-out from what is being perceived as the legalising or decriminalising of the ‘drug’. There is work to be done especially when one discovers that there are pushbacks already on some supposedly carefully thought-out all related matters.

It is not at all funny for that matter we mentioned languishing somehow up to the Privy Council, when all the presenter Claude Gerald wanted to do was to draw attention to what had been already well accepted that there was medicinal benefit to marijuana, not the  mere ‘use of it’, because well-known too, there is danger depending on how used, pretty much like many other ‘legal’ drugs. He was never allowed to get beyond saying or even describing what he was about to say.

This is hardly unlike so many other real, important and serious matters relevant to the well-being, progress and prosperity to this island. Listen to or note the absence of the sensibility of just about anything coming from most, nearly all of our politicians about matters relating to the relevant issues mentioned. And this is of course not just limited to the politicians, but the leadership and management generally. It is now very widespread. And contrary to what some may want to believe there appears on the surface enough to mislead. 

Unfortunately, selfishness and refusal to understand the newness and usefulness of the hyped ‘IT technology’; surface hypocrisies, will continue to be to the detriment to anything worthwhile and good for this country. Secrecy and corruption; blatant bad, made to look good, catching up and being selfishly ‘politically correct’, add the hypocrisy that comes along will all create problems for even or especially ‘spend the monies’. Let’s have some constructive dialogue, the time now is right.

‘Jus wonderin who we can get to moderate that.’

Getting to critical thoughts. When DFID mentioned on two occasions, in 2008 and 2012 about being ready to be serious about the then 13-year volcanic devastation, their interest in growth, supporting the ports ‘sea and air’, both Premiers since 2008 have removed the airport off the table of discussion. Neither of them, one more so than the other, had ever said that DFID had shown no interest in the one equally critical to the other.

It is the ‘chief minister’ in 2008 who we call on – we believe is capable, respected, honest and sincere enough to take Montserrat from here. But listen carefully and know what you hear – or don’t hear. But alas, the future is so uncertain. It is unimaginable, they who say, as their own belief is questionable, they have the know-how. Here is a warning for them. They should be ready to answer the question, “what do you believe you require to be a legislator and potentially, the leader of the country?” Then there is another, but that is for when the time comes.

(See marijuana stories in this issue)

END

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budget address5

2019 Budget Highlights new era of Transformation


Premier and Minister of Finance Don Romeo

The Hon Donaldson Romeo, Premier and Minister of Finance of Montserrat, for four years and seven months on Wednesday,  May 15, 2019, presented his fifth and largest budget of $202.2 million in a BUDGET SPEECH, under the theme, “A New Era of Transformation: A Platform for Progress”,  during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly at the Montserrat Cultural Centre where he outlined the spending and revenue expectations for this financial year.

No surprise that the budget focused as it did representing the largest sum of moneys over the time of the PDM government, which is represented in a modest increase of nearly 5% over  last year and substantial capital budgeted sums.

It was that capital injection that delayed the budget as the Premier noted when he was moved to address the matter through special interviews with the media.

The Premier stated “this budget which marks a milestone in the long journey to build strong and sustainable foundations for a better Montserrat, and in our development partnership with the UK.  Given the significance of the transformational projects in the budget, we now stand on the threshold of an era of growth and progress towards a robust future.  We have strengthened our governance framework, with financial management systems and controls that improve the trust and confidence in public spending.  In that context, we are now seeing key infrastructure investments and interest by local and international investors that could open up further opportunities for a new Montserrat economy”. 

The Premier highlighted that “the upcoming Little Bay breakwater and berth will bring better tourism and trade opportunities. The upcoming Fibre Optic Cable Project opens up room for a digitally based sector.  The new 250 kiloWatt Solar PV power plant points to a greener energy future.  The new tourism strategy and economic growth strategy lay out a ten-year road-map to take advantage of these opportunities.  That’s why projected growth in our economy for the year ahead is 3.2 – 3.5%.  We are on the way to the growth targets outlined in our economic strategy”.

The Premier continued to discuss the actual sums involved stating “We have moved to a much more credible budget which was critical to implementing the programs you the people have charged us to deliver.  Estimates of recurrent Revenue and Expenditure for 2019/20 provide for a total of $137.77 million dollars. This is a 4.81% increase over the previous year.  On the capital side there is EC$ 64.40 million to finance several key infrastructure projects that will open the doorway for faster, self-sustaining growth of our economy in years to come”.

Go here to find the speech and estimates:

http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Speech-2019-20.pdf

http://Budget Estimates- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Estimates-2019-20.pdf

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We need a new politics of truth, soundness and national consensus

We need a new politics of truth, soundness and national consensus

Part 4/2019 (Contribution)

Can we move beyond the politics of bitterness, slander, half-truths and insincere promises?

BRADES, Montserrat, May 11, 2019 –  In this election year we have just seen two elected members of our assembly suspended for unbecoming behaviour in the Assembly. Behaviour, of a degree that has been unprecedented for eighty-two years. At the same time, we have had to spend time looking at the FAC’s intent to impose “same-sex marriage” on us, and we saw how a Chief Justice in Cayman, to promote the same homosexualisation, tried to rewrite Cayman’s Constitution from the judicial bench. These unfortunate developments are a wake-up call, a sign that we need a better politics, one capable of handling far more ticklish, potentially explosive issues, and handling them soundly and soberly. 

In short, we need “a fresh, serious, public-spirited conversation on how we will govern ourselves as a nation over the next six years.” (Yes, six years, as we must not waste this year’s opportunities.) A great place to begin that conversation is with our official, national vision statement:

A healthy and wholesome Montserrat,
founded upon a thriving modern economy
with a friendly, vibrant community,
in which all our people
through enterprise and initiative,
can fulfill their hopes
in a truly democratic and God-fearing society

It would be hard to object to this.  So, then, why is there so much bitterness, disrespect, untruth, slander, misleading half-truth and insincerity in our politics?

If you doubt me, consider the case of the local commenter who recently claimed on radio that the UK has done “nothing” for Montserrat over the past twenty-five years. Likewise, think about the one who suggested that in awarding a three percent salary increase (after ten years of no increases at all), the government then took it all back through taxes. As a third, ponder the persistent gap between manifesto promises and what our elected governments do in office. Not once, not twice, again and again.

Obviously, long-suffering British taxpayers have cause to object to such an attitude.  For they pay for 60% of our recurrent budget – which is being debated this coming week (after two delays), typically pay for much more of our capital budget and have paid perhaps £500 millions in support to Montserrat since the volcano crisis began. Added up, that’s about EC$  350,000 for each resident of Montserrat, the cost of a good house.

So, as a first step, if we are to build an improved onward development partnership with the UK, we would be well advised to form a more balanced view of what has been contributed and what has been achieved thus far. Yes, results have been very mixed, but without the £500 millions of support to date, Montserrat would have long since completely collapsed.

Likewise, given a progressive tax structure and that someone else is paying 60% of our recurrent budget (someone, who is not getting big tax cuts), it will be very hard for any future local government to cut local income tax rates significantly until we are paying our own way and are collecting enough to cover cuts from other forms of revenue.  The horse pulls the cart, not the other way around.

Also, let us remember: increased consumption is not at all the same as increased investment.

As sustainable economic growth must come from fresh business investment, our national priority must be the “catalytic” infrastructure that opens the door for private sector investment led growth. Then, we can argue that new business investments hire people and buy services from other businesses, starting with construction. We can then use our longstanding tax incentives to help fertilise new investments.  Tourism and the digital sector are obvious priority sectors. Significantly, government just hired a regional person – do we dare say the now dirtied word: “TC”? – to help us move tourism forward. The good news is, it seems the breakwater and berth and the new fibre optic cable – at last, after at least a decade of too often questionable delays and roadblocks – are on the move.

We can also notice that key infrastructure projects are now clearly moving ahead: the sea port, the fibre optic cable project, the 250 kW solar photo voltaic electricity plant, even the new air traffic control tower for the airport. These projects will open opportunities for investment, and while we remain concerned about long delayed geothermal energy development after learning that the drilling equipment was deteriorated and had to be removed even as DfID closed the project, good news is indeed good news. 

So, we must ask pointed questions of those who act as though good news for Montserrat is bad news for them, while bad news for Montserrat is good news for them.  Instead, a fair-minded critic will be balanced and constructive (not bitterly destructive).

Another concern, is that we must find ways to improve administration and project management so that we actually spend out our budgets. Especially, capital budgets. It’s a good thing that we have a new head of the Programme Management Office.

Again, while, yes the EU money came late (November) it is not good that we were only able to expend 27% of the already small capital programme for the 2018-19 budget by the end of March. Obviously, it does no good to be habitually rolling over capital projects into the next year. This, again, points to the urgent need to continue restoring the Programme Management Office now that a new head is in place. Let us use it to build up capacity to manage, govern and execute projects on time, to international standards such as PRINCE2.

Likewise, we need to ask our politicians and pundits some very hard questions about what a local government beholden to DfID for 60% of recurrent budget and for most of our capital budget can realistically achieve.

It is very clear that when Lord Ahmad announced £30 millions for CIPREG, he admitted the need was more like £50 millions. Premier Romeo seems to think £70 millions is more like it. We must take manifestos far more seriously, thinking hard about what it means to lightly break promises to the voting public. Then, when it comes to spreading nasty stories about politicians etc or when we act disrespectfully in the Assembly, are we simply acting out of disregard for truth, disrespect, delight in damaging reputation, habitual gossip or worse?

Jeremiah has some choice words for us:

Jeremiah 9:4 Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
and put no trust in any brother,
for every brother is a deceiver,
and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
5 Everyone deceives his neighbor,
and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
they weary themselves committing iniquity. [ESV]

Plainly, we cannot build a sound future through lies and liars. Where, a loaded, misleading half truth is a full lie. (TMR noted for the last election, to lie is to speak with disregard to truth, in the hope of profiting from what is said or suggested being taken as true.)

Let us turn from “advantage,” gossip, slander, disrespect etc. – the politics of bitterness and deception.

Turn, to what?

Perhaps, the five principal goals in our seemingly forgotten 2008 – 2020 Sustainable Development Plan:

I.        Prudent Economic Management

II.      Sound Human Development

III.    Robust Environmental Management and Disaster Mitigation

IV.     Good Governance

V.      A Sustainable Population

Okay, let the “fresh, serious, public-spirited conversation” begin.

Budget Speech- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Speech-2019-20.pdf Budget Estimates- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Estimates-2019-20.pdf

Budget Speech- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Speech-2019-20.pdf
Budget Estimates- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Estimates-2019-20.pdf

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, De Ole Dawg, General, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

DSC_6962a

Margaret ‘Annie’ Dyer-Howe gets elegant homegoing celebration

Rt. Hon. Mary ‘Annie’ Dyer Howe

From related posts – adapted by Bennette Roach

The Right Hon. Margaret Annie Dyer-Howe OE, MBA was finally laid to rest at the Lookout Cemetery following a fitting state-sponsored ‘Service of Celebration…’ for her life at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. She was born on November 18, 1941, and died on the night of April 6, 2019, after a long illness at the age of 77 years.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She empowered women at every level,” added Willock

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights, had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart,” he said.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her forquality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla, sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community, back in 1983-4 when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of the PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

It was again, Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne who perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So, Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

The Right Hon. Margaret Annie Dyer-Howe OE, MBA was finally laid to rest at the Lookout Cemetery following a fitting state sponsored ‘Service of Celebration…’ for her life at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. She was born on November 18, 1941 and died on the night of April 6, 2019 after a long illness at the age of 77 years.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She empowered women at every level,” added Willock

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights, had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart,” he said.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her forquality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla, sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community , back in 1983-4 when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of the PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

It was again, Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne who perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So, Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

The casket of Margaret “Annie” Dyer-Howe is prepared for burial at the Lookout Public Cemetery in Montserrat.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”


The casket of Margaret “Annie” Dyer-Howe is prepared for burial at the Lookout Public Cemetery in Montserrat.

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her for quality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest.

Dr. Lowel Lewis
Florence Griffith
Hon Speaker Shirley

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights  had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart.

 “Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

Jackie Dangler
Wejahna Weekes

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

Easton Taylor Farrell
Premier Romeo

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Shirley and Bennette
Sir Professor Howard Fergus

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community, when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of her PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

Keith  Howe
Fr. Mark Schram

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Trump takes over Fourth of July celebration, changing its location and inserting himself into the program

Trump takes over Fourth of July celebration, changing its location and inserting himself into the program

Fireworks after a campaign rally by President Trump rally in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Wednesday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

By Josh Dawsey , Juliet Eilperin and Peter Jamison May 10

President Trump has effectively taken charge of the nation’s premier Fourth of July celebration in Washington, moving the gargantuan fireworks display from its usual spot on the Mall to be closer to the Potomac River and making tentative plans to address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, according to top administration officials.

 The president’s starring role has the potential to turn what has long been a nonpartisan celebration of the nation’s founding into another version of a Trump campaign rally. Officials said it is unclear how much the changes may cost, but the plans have already raised alarms among city officials and some lawmakers about the potential impact of such major alterations to a time-honored and well-organized summer tradition.

Fireworks on the Mall, which the National Park Service has orchestrated for more than half a century, draw hundreds of thousands of Americans annually and mark one of the highlights of the city’s tourist season. The event has been broadcast live on television since 1947 and since 1981 has been accompanied by a free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol featuring high-profile musicians and a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra.

The new event, to be called “A Salute to America,” will shift the fireworks launch to West Potomac Park, less than a mile southwest of its usual location near the Washington Monument. In addition to a possible address by Trump, the location may feature a second stage of entertainment apart from the performers at the Capitol, officials said.

Washington D.C. council member Mary Cheh, (D-Ward 3) says that President Trump is trying to mimic totalitarian regimes with his plans to hold a military parade. (Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

The revised Independence Day celebration is the culmination of two years of attempts by Trump to create a major patriotic event centered on him and his supporters, including failed efforts to mount a military parade modeled on the Bastille Day celebration in France. The new event has become a top priority for new Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, whom Trump tasked with the job three months ago, officials said. D.C. council member says Trump’s plans for military parade are all about his ego

[Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade]

The president has received regular briefings on the effort in the Oval Office and has gotten involved in the minutiae of the planning — even discussing whether the fireworks should be launched from a barge in the Potomac River, administration aides said. The president has shown interest in the event that he often does not exhibit for other administration priorities, the aides added.

“I think the president is excited about the idea, and we’re working hard on it, and I think it could be very, very meaningful,” Bernhardt said in an interview. “The president loves the idea, as probably all Americans do, of celebrating America on the Fourth of July, or thereabouts.”

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, said in an interview that she is concerned that Trump could polarize what is typically a unifying event for Americans.

Fireworks illuminate the Mall in celebration of Independence Day in Washington on July 4, 2018. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)

“It’s not about any one president. It’s about how our nation came to be, because of a hardy band of brave men and women,” McCollum said. “It’s not about any one person, it’s about ‘We, the people.’ And if the president moves to make this about him, I think he will find the American public disappointed and angered by it.”

An official in the administration of D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said federal officials have informed the city government of potential changes to the Fourth of July celebration but that the logistics and cost of the altered format had not been finalized.

 The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss preparations for the event, said the city was concerned about moving the fireworks and about the logistics of the president traveling to the Mall to address the crowds, which could cut off the flow of visitors to and from nearby Metro stations.

 “We have a lot of people come to the Fourth of July. Logistically, over the years, the kinks have been worked out,” the official said. “We don’t want to throw off what already works.”

President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during a Bastille Day parade on the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 14, 2017. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The president’s idea for a Trump-influenced Fourth of July celebration began within hours of attending a lavish Bastille Day parade in Paris in 2017, former aides say. Before Air Force One took off to return from France, Trump came to the back of the staff cabin and laid out the particulars of a proposed military parade in Washington — down to the types of tanks that he wanted in the streets and the kind of aircraft he wanted to fly overhead.

[‘HOLD THE DATE!’ Trump announces Independence Day celebration]

The idea later shifted to become a Veterans Day-linked parade instead, before collapsing altogether last August as costs for the potential event ballooned. Trump blamed local officials in canceling the event.

Then, this past February, Trump announced on Twitter that Americans should “HOLD THE DATE!” on July 4 for a “Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”

There have been no public announcements since then, but federal officials are working furiously to adjust plans for an event that has been largely unchanged for at least two decades.

It is unclear whether the changes to the Mall celebration will increase costs for taxpayers. Launching the fireworks last year cost roughly $250,000, a figure that does not include the cost of security, portable toiletsTrump’s focus and fencing. The D.C. official said the city would expect the federal government to pay for any new costs incurred by changes to the celebration.

In justifying Trump’s changes, Interior officials argued that moving the fireworks launching site from the north and south sides of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool — where it has been located for at least 18 years — to West Potomac Park will allow for more visitors. 

National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said the agency typically has to close an area around the Reflecting Pool for about 10 days before the event, cutting off access to one of the Mall’s most popular sites.

Bernhardt said that, by altering the launch site, “that’s going to be a significant expansion of space that’s available to watch the fireworks from the Mall.” 

“And we might even have some more surprises in store for the public, very very soon,” the secretary added.

Trump has sometimes featured fireworks at his political events, including at a campaign rally this week in Panama City, Fla. The Trump administration is also taking steps to expand fireworks celebrations elsewhere in the United States. 

[Trump loves a military parade — it’s one reason he’s heading to Paris]

On Tuesday, Bernhardt and South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) announced that they had reached an agreement allowing the Park Service to resume launching fireworks at Mount Rushmore in 2020. That practice, which began in 1998, stopped in 2009 after Park Service officials determined that a pine beetle infestation had heightened the risk of a forest fire igniting in the area.

“I am pleased to inform you that THE BIG FIREWORKS, after many years of not having any, are coming back to beautiful Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Great work @GovKristiNoem and @SecBernhardt! #MAGA,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Fireworks go off as President Trump finishes speaking at a rally in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Wednesday. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Trump’s focus on Independence Day reflects a broader pattern of focusing on the details of projects important to him personally. He grew obsessed, for example, with the renovation of FBI headquarters in Washington, asking for building specs, floor plans and even furniture and carpet schemes, current and former aides said.

“He wanted to be the project manager,” said a former senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe Oval Office meetings. 

No president has participated in a Fourth of July celebration on the Mall in recent memory, usually celebrating instead at the White House. President Ronald Reagan participated in a “Star Spangled Salute to America” at the Jefferson Memorial on July 3, 1987, which showcased an economic announcement, but the regular fireworks celebration happened the next day as usual. 

Reagan’s unveiling of an “Economic Bill of Rights” took place at 10 a.m., with the vice president, secretary of state and other members of the administration in attendance. The official White House diary estimated the crowd size at 10,000, though Reagan said it was half that. He later said that he “didn’t remember ever being hotter than I was on that platform in the sun.”

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Who of those serve in the LegAss understand being 'honourable'

Who of those serve in the LegAss understand being ‘honourable’

May 3, 2019

It was obvious that those of us listening to the events as they unfolded in the Legislative Assembly (LegAss), on that somewhat tumultuous March 29, 2019, that the story was not near what was coming over the airwaves. It was such that even those who might have been present in the gallery were unaware of what was taking place.

It turns out and there are those of us who would easily understand from being present in the gallery at times and those who would say what and this and that which they wouldn’t do, if they were the Speaker or a legislator, depending on the circumstances.

Over the last several years for over a decade, it wasn’t difficult to tell if a Speaker was being more than bias towards a government or opposition or different members as the case may be. Whichever way that was, except the members were prepared to take some action as may be or could be necessary, in an environment where people talk out mostly in gossip, it meant the situation would only get worse.

It was an unpleasant experience, though not surprising because somehow the lack of integrity and just ordinary common sense that is prevailing among many, leaves no doubt that being forthright for honesty and decency is somehow at an all time low to the point where good is unnoticed, wrong acceptable, and bad is seen as the norm, and good.

With regards to the behaviour of our legislators, or some of them, it was surprising taking into consideration the little rattle preceding here that the Speaker would hold this opinion when she said this. “I find it very troubling that there could be Members of this House, leaders in our community, setters of standards for the others of us who could declare that they find the occurrences of March 29t altogether out of order, regrettable, unacceptable and never to be condoned, and in the same breath also declare that the primary consideration is not the violation, but the votes that they might not get in the upcoming elections, from voters who might disagree with the penalties meted out to those members who violated the rules of the house.”

That is indeed really quite sad to hear, listening to the six charges she read out, and all she had said before. Of course, that may be because she had just said this prior to that statement. “Members are required to take a stand when problems arise and indeed where members are unwilling to take a stand it becomes a problem. To the extent that the members refuse to hold their members to the highest standards they also prevent the Speaker from properly defending the dignity and reputation of the House and, in this case, from addressing the indignity that was heaped upon the House.”

Let’s list them here, the infractions of the offending members. Disruption of house proceedings. Violation of the dignity and honour of the House. Disregard for the authority of the Chair. Unparliamentary language. Leaving the House without the permission of the Speaker. Grave misconduct in the House, including abuse of the use of parliamentary speech.

The Speaker says she doesn’t see these or much else as an attack on her or even disrespect to her. If a singe of those charges in any mix can be made against any other member of the house that does tell of the dire situation this territory faces as it is already looking out to hear or see those who from among them and others who will present themselves to the electorate in less than a year’s time.

There are those who were unhappy that she spoke so long on the matter, but from what she said it appears that it was necessary. It is difficult to believe that anything she said was new to any member and for those of them who were bored and falling asleep, we hope that they will seek to hold each other to the fire as is necessary. And what if she did not speak as fast as she did!

More than half of the members are new, four having served at least one term before with one having a third consecutive term. But they are in the fifth year. All have had training parliamentary training since elected, but could it be they misunderstand the title honourable?

And thinking that even after nearly an hour that there are still those who felt nothing wrong took place. And could it be that the Speaker was accused of lying when they thought they were not guilty as charged? After all, those who voted against or abstained from voting should be called upon to explain their position, if they still consider it honourable.

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World Press Freedom Day: “Media for Democracy”

Today’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day centers on the theme of “Media for Democracy: journalism and elections in times of disinformation”.

By Vatican News

The numbers speak louder than words: 95 journalists killed in the line of duty last year alone. 700 over the past ten years. 348 imprisoned.

The figures come from the International Federation of Journalists. In its own report, issued in April this year, Reporters Without Borders denounces “unprecedented violence” against journalists, claiming most victims were “deliberately targeted” precisely because they were doing their job. Still, journalists and reporters continue to risk their lives in conflict zones, providing truthful and reliable coverage of world events, and investigating stories of crime and corruption

World Press Freedom Index

One of the aims of World Press Freedom Day is to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the field. Another is to assess the state of press freedom throughout the world. The World Press Freedom Index, compiled every year by Reporters Without Borders, does exactly that by evaluating the state of journalism in 180 countries. Only 24 percent of those countries are classified as “good”. Norway ranks top of the list in terms of press freedom, with Turkmenistan at the bottom.   

According to the 2019 Index, “The hostility towards journalists expressed by political leaders in many countries has incited increasingly serious and frequent acts of violence that have fueled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists”.  

World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 and has been celebrated every year since then. This year’s theme of “Media for Democracy: journalism and elections in times of disinformation”, discusses the challenges faced by media during elections, along with the media’s potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes.

In announcing the theme, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said: “No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power”.

Truthful reporting and peace journalism were highlighted by Pope Francis in his Message for World Communications Day last year. In the message, he calls journalists “protectors of news” and describes what they do as “not just a job”, but a “mission”.   03 May 2019, 13:32

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Gegory Willock

It was certainly messy

Hon Speaker, Shirley Osborne, with clerk in Legislative Assembly session
Seating in opposition Hons. Easton Farrell, Dr. Sammy Joseph, Dr. Ingrid Buffonge and Gregory Willock

Aware that TMR (The Montserrat Reporter) had not given full coverage under the headlined “…Assembly mess,” in the March 29, 2019 issue, we had prepared coverage for publication under caption “It was certainly messy” following full investigation. Time went by, but as of last weekend the time came for an answer following postponement of earlier sittings, when the matter(s) was dealt with in the Assembly held on April 25, 2019.

The result – apologies, and suspensions from sittings.

In last week’s TMR issue we headlined the week’s share of mess both in the UK and in Montserrat, both in different proportions. Montserrat being much less, affecting only the territory but coming nevertheless from the highest level possible in parliament, the Legislative Assembly (LegAss).

We addressed the matter briefly in the Editorial where we suggested from the brief information available last Friday immediately following the poor conduct of the Legislative member Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, in her fifth year after being elected in the last 2014 General Elections, supported by the Hon Gregory Willock, a fact he constantly seeks to deny.

Dr. Buffonge has reportedly said that her remarks were not directed to the Speaker, and was unaware that her microphone was still turned on. But irrespective Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne has explained that she, “… used language that is just absolutely not acceptable here. And upon being asked to apologize to the house choose instead to leave.”

With Dr. Buffonge’s supporter of her failed motion against the PDM government last year, Hon Willock was seemingly in support and joined Dr. Buffonge who rather than, or refusing to apologise as Speaker Osborne said she was asked to do, walked out.

Earlier in the sitting the Speaker had admonished members from both sides that they should be mindful of how they interrupt a speaker., This is usually done by a member drawing attention by saying, “On a point of order…”

This time the speaker had interrupted Dr. Buffonge who was speaking to a Supplementary bill to approve additional funds for health care, for relevance. She was stating her repeated continue d dissatisfaction with the way the Ministry of Health had been functioning. But the Honourable Speaker told Buffonge, “I find what you are saying very interesting, however, I’m having great difficulty making the connection, the relevance of what you are saying to the bill on hand. —would you in maybe twenty words or so explain the connection before you go on?” she asked of the member.

Dr. Buffonge responded by saying, “Madam Speaker, I’m really struggling to have a voice in parliament with you being super controlling. I find that nobody else gets the treatment that I get.”

At some point soon after Dr. Buffonge among other words uttered the offending words, and after being asked to apologise, reportedly said goodbye to the House and walked out. She was followed by Willock leaving the Hon opposition leader with Hon. Dr Sammy Joseph.

A stunned public wait for the next move on the issue. Meanwhile the Hon Speaker is reported to have said, ‘The standing orders allows the House to name and suspend members. What I will recommend to the house, and what the House will take on in response to the behaviours of those two persons this afternoon, is something we will discuss and respond to and address appropriately at the next sitting.”

And so, here we were on Thursday, April 25, 2019, as the questions asked prior, e.g. “Could parliamentary member be facing possible suspension during the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly?”

The Hon Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Shirley Osborne having convened the sitting on the 25th, to address parliamentary issues, as she opened: “Unfortunately for us, the very first order of business this morning, is that we are required to respond to and resolve a matter brought forward from the last sitting of the house, which took place on Friday March 29th.”

It ought to have been surprising, even if not shocking, especially to those who were still willing to downplay the events, claiming worst happen in other parliaments when the speaker continued after addressing the Hon members’ “the very first sitting of what would grow to be called the Montserrat Legislative Assembly was held in 1937, and in its 82 years of existence the house, as far as we can tell from researching into the written records and consulting with current and former parliamentarians, nothing has ever occurred in this august and venerable house that even remotely compares to what unfolded in this place on March 29, 2019.”

The Speaker continued her introduction of the matter on hand:

“Not surprisingly, this Honourable House – and this Chair – were quite unprepared to respond immediately, knowledge of Standing Orders being not quite the same as familiarity with the remedies it provides for dealing with matters so entirely unfamiliar to this Chair and this House.

The entire House recoiled in disbelief and reacted with shock at the untoward and alien occurrence and the house was suspended briefly, in accordance with Standing Order Number 3 (2) which reads, simply: “(2) The Speaker may at any time suspend a meeting.” So that I might confer with the Clerk and Standing Orders for the appropriate response.

“In the interests of clarity, therefore, and so as to ensure that all who have an interest in the workings of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly are provided with the facts, on record, in replacement of misconceptions resulting from ignorance of the rules of the House of Assembly and in response to the opportunistic misrepresentations of the facts, I shall briefly recap.”

She went on to do that in terms some of which appear here in this issue and before. She mentioned however, circumstances and events that took place prior to the March 29 meeting where she said: “…I made a plea to the members to not repeat the unfortunate and unbecoming behaviours of the previous sitting.” She said she made these comments after asking the radio not to broadcast what she was about to say to the members. The essence of this is that what happened that day was a situation which just got far worse than imaginable.

After the brief suspension on March 29, the Speaker reported: “I advised the House that I would confer further with the Clerk of the Assembly, seek wider advice and report back at the next sitting with appropriate rulings and directions for the House,” adding, “As is proper and indeed best practice, Madam Clerk and I, both, have also, separately, sought advice from our colleague clerks and speakers in other jurisdictions.”

Thus she began: “I have done so. My considered ruling, therefore, is this.” Only that before the ruling, she went on with much more explanation of the honour and culture surrounding the rules, existence, control and conduct of the house, much of which most if not all members would have been exposed to before, formally or otherwise, excerpted thus.

“The Montserrat Legislative Assembly is governed by generally accepted rules – Standing Orders, custom, codes of conduct and the authority of the Speaker – …the House is the proverbial “nation unto itself”, within which the members enjoy Privilege with a capital P, or a set of privileges available to no others else in our society. For this reason, also, is it incumbent upon them to never violate this high honour.

“These orders, rules, customs and codes, in conjunction with The Montserrat Constitution Order 2010, oblige members to always – and assiduously – uphold the honour and dignity of the House, to be ever careful to never engage in conduct that might be damaging to the reputation and integrity of the House as a whole or of its members generally, in whichever situation they might find themselves…”

 “Under Standards in public life, the Constitution reads,

106.— (2) In the exercise of their functions Ministers, members of the Legislative Assembly and public officers shall uphold and conform to the highest standards in public life

These orders, rules, customs and codes of conduct exist –

“to assist all Members in the discharge of their obligations to the House, their constituents and the public at large by –

  1. establishing the standards and principles of conduct expected of all Members in undertaking their duties;
  2. setting the rules of conduct which underpin these standards and principles and to which all Members must adhere, and in so doing
  3. ensuring public confidence in the standards expected of all Members and in the commitment of the House to upholding these rules.

After all that and much more, questioning on the way:

“With what authority, for example, would a teacher at MSS be able to reprimand a child for disrupting the class, or for cursing and swearing in the classroom, if Members of Parliament are seen to be allowed to do this in the House, with impunity?

Would we consider it acceptable for congregants to speak “badwords” in our churches?”

Then – “My office as Speaker allows me the authority to advise members and, at this moment, I advise the House that there is campaigning and politics and there is administering and governing.

“I further advise members that, in this House, the guide ought best be, above all other considerations, effective administration and good governance for the benefit and advancement of the entire populace.”

And eventually laying out the ‘charges’ having named before those who have caused them to be brought. “Honourable Members, the matters under consideration are, in general, a violation of the Standing Orders of the Assembly, and specifically:

“disruption of house proceedings;
disregard for the authority of the Chair;
violation of the dignity and honour of the House;
unparliamentary language;
leaving the House without the permission of the Speaker;
and grave misconduct in the House, including abuse of the parliamentary privilege regarding speech.”

Accordingly with the authority of the Speaker. “All of these being behaviours prohibited by the ,

She also cited the Standing Orders from which the charges derived Standing Order Nos. 39, 40, 4, 49, 78 (1), 49 Section 2.

It is my recommendation, therefore, that the violations of the Parliament by these two members be responded to in this manner:

“that Mr. Willock renders an apology to the House, withdraw from this present sitting and be suspended for one sitting hereafter.

“That Dr. Buffonge renders an apology to the House, which must be in writing and with notice, withdraw from this present sitting and be suspended for two sittings hereafter.

The question to be put is, therefore, Honourable Members, whether the House accepts these recommendations.”

It may be surprising to note that the opposition with one member absent voted against the motion, with the two ‘charged’ not being able to vote, the motion carried with the government side voting in favour with one abstention.

Reports, unconfirmed and being checked speak to continuing awkwardness and misbehavior, which may cause further citations. The matter may not be over. The budget presentation is carded for the next sitting of the house likely to be May 155. The two members will be absent.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Elections, Featured, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Figure 2: Crick’s March 19, 1953 letter, p. 5 with a highlight (Fair use)

The Credibility of God

by

A Special: Part 7

Is the gospel a credible basis for a just civilisation?

When Cayman Chief Justice Anthony Smellie recently ruled[1] to impose same-sex marriage under colour of law in Cayman, some of his underlying points suggested that tradition, religion and linked religious ethics lack basic intellectual credibility and are particularly prone to inequities. Also, in recent years, there has been a flood of articles and voices across the Caribbean that have tried to discredit and dismiss the gospel, the Scriptures that teach it and the churches that bear witness to it. Last September, in answer to one such article,  the below was submitted under the right of reply, but was unfortunately rejected by a leading regional newspaper. Given what is now so clearly at stake and given the foundational importance of the gospel message and gospel ethics, we present the below as a needed first defence of our civilisation.

Over the years, many millions have met and been transformed through meeting God in the face of Christ. This includes countless Jamaicans [and many other people across the Caribbean]. It also includes many famed scholars, eminent scientists and leaders of powerful reformations. Logically, if just one of these millions has actually been reconciled with God through Christ, God must be real and the gospel must be true. (Where, if instead so many are deeply delusional, that would undermine the rational credibility of the human mind.)

However, for some years now various voices have tried to dismissively question God, the gospel and Christians. So, it is not unexpected to see Mr Gordon Robinson writing in the Gleaner[2] recently (on Sunday, August 26, 2018),  about alleged “dangerous dogma promulgated by the Church and its many brainwashed surrogates,” “perverse propaganda spread by Christian churches,” “sycophants” and the like.

Along the way, he managed to ask a pivotal question: “Who/what is God?”

Regrettably, he also implied outright fraud by church leaders: “Either the Church has NO CLUE about who/what God really is, or it deliberately misrepresents God’s essence in order to frighten people into becoming church members and tithing. Nothing else makes sense.”

Fig 1 DNA, Showing the Genetic Code (HT ResearchGate)

In fact, a simple Internet search might give a better answer. For, thinkers such as a Thomas Aquinas or an Augustine of Hippo or a Paul of Tarsus or even a Wayne Grudem[3] or a William Lane Craig[4] have long since credibly addressed the idea of God and systematic theology at a little more sophisticated level than Sunday School lessons or Internet Atheist web sites. In so doing, they have made responsible cases that rise above the level of caricatures of the art on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

We may begin with Paul in Romans 1, 57 AD: “Rom 1:19 . . . what can be known about God is plain to [people], because God has shown it to them. 20 For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [people] are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  [ESV]

Here, one of the top dozen minds of our civilisation first points out how our morally governed interior life and what we see in the world all around jointly call us to God our Creator. But, too often we suppress the force of that inner testimony and outer evidence. (This, predictably, leads to unsound thinking and destructive deeds stemming from benumbed consciences and en-darkened minds.)

For one, consider how for sixty years now we have known that the DNA in the cells of our bodies has in it complex, alphanumeric, algorithmic code that is executed through molecular nanotechnology to build proteins, the workhorses of biological life. That’s why Sir Francis Crick wrote to his son Michael on March 19, 1953 that “we believe that the DNA is a code. That is, the order of bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another).”

Yes, alphanumeric code (so, language!), algorithms (so, purpose!), i.e. intelligent design of life from the first living cell on. Including, us. No wonder the dean of the so-called New Atheists was forced to admit that Biology studies complicated things that give a strong appearance of design. 

1947 saw the advent of the transistor age, allowing storage of a single bit of information in a tiny electronic wonder. We have since advanced to computers based on silicon chips comparable in size to a thumb-nail, with millions of transistors. These microchips and support machinery process many millions of instructions per second and have storage capacities of many gigabytes. Coded electronic communication signals routinely go across millions of miles through the solar system.  Every one of these devices and systems required careful design by highly educated engineers, scientists and programmers. The living, self-replicating cell’s sophistication dwarfs all of these; yet we question the all-knowing God, the author of life.

Figure 2: Crick’s March 19, 1953 letter, p. 5 with a highlight (Fair use)

Next, Mr. Robinson and others inevitably appeal to our known duty to truth, right reasoning, fairness, prudent judgement, etc.  But, where did that inner moral law (testified to by our consciences) come from? Surely, it is not a delusion; or else responsible, freely rational discussion would collapse into nihilistic chaos: might and manipulation (= “power and propaganda”) make ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘justice,’ ‘truth,’ ‘knowledge’ etc. Instead, our conscience-guarded hearts and minds clearly show the Creator’s design that we freely live by the light and law of truth and right.

Such considerations – and many more – point us to the only serious candidate for the source of reality that can bridge IS and OUGHT: the inherently good (and wise) Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Who is fully worthy of our loyalty and of humble, responsible, reasonable service through doing the good. Then, we may readily draw out the classic understanding of God described in scripture and studied in systematic theology: all-good, eternal, creator and Lord with sound knowledge and full capability to work out his good purposes in the right way at the right time.

Moreover, what we most of all need to know about God is taught by Jesus the Christ, recorded in scripture within eye-witness lifetime then accurately handed down to us for 2000 years now, at fearsome cost: the blood of the martyrs. Martyrs, who had but one incentive: that they directly knew and must peacefully stand by the eternal truth – cost what it will. They refused to be frightened by dungeon, fire or sword, much less mere rhetoric. Why would thousands die horribly to promote a known lie?

Their record is that Christ is the express image of his Father, Logos – Cosmos-ordering Reason himself, prophesied Messiah, the Saviour who in love died for us on a cross. He rose from the dead as Lord with 500 eye-witnesses, precisely fulfilling over three hundred prophecies that were long since recorded in the Old Testament. (See esp. Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, c. 700 BC.[5]) He ascended to his Father in the presence of the apostles. He shall return as eternal Judge, before whom we must all account. (Yes, professing and “backsliding” Christians too.) The Bible also records Jesus’ prayer for us: “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and [“thy Son”] Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” [John 17:1- 5, cf. 3:16.]

That is the truth witnessed by the church, whether it was 33 AD in Jerusalem before an angry Sanhedrin, or 50 AD before the laughing Athenians (who had built a public monument to their ignorance of God), or today.  We therefore confidently invite Mr Robinson et al. to join with us in a serious-minded, substantially informed discussion about “who/what God really is” and about why the gospel is just that: God’s good news that brings salvation, blessing and hope for the positive transformation for our nation.


[1]See TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/cayman-islands-chief-justice-smellie-tries-to-redefine-marriage-fails/

[2]Cf. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20180826/gordon-robinson-gospel-according-gordon

[3]See: http://www.waynegrudem.com/

[4]See: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/

[5]See: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isa+52%3A13+-+53%3A12&version=AMP

Posted in Columns, De Ole Dawg, Education, International, Local, News, OECS, Opinions, Regional, Scriptures0 Comments

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