Premier Donaldson Romeo's Remarks at Opening of St. Patrick's Festival
Let me start by welcoming everyone to the opening of the 2016 St. Patrick’s Festival. I want to adopt the usual protocol and further acknowledge those we have travelled from far to be here with us today and our well-wishers listening all over the world.
St Patrick’s Festival continues to draw crowds to our shores and as the Minister with responsibility for both Culture and Tourism, I recognize that this is a win ‘win’ situation. In our 2015/2016 Budget, we allocated additional funds to Festivals in Montserrat, recognizing that enhancing our festivals will serve as a major tourism marketing tool and ultimately contribute to our development process socially, culturally and economically.
It is noteworthy to highlight that St Patrick’s represents freedom and democracy and that this enables us to accept each others choices of celebrating in whatever form of our ancestry that best describes who we wish to be. I am certain that culturally, it will all fall into place because, as I look around this evening, our young people are playing an integral role in this event and that symbolizes acceptance and continuity.
We should never denounce any aspect of where we came from. Our Irish connection can never be denied because it is evidenced in our names, our foods, our way of life. Similarly, our African genealogy stands out and manifests itself when we uncontrollably move to the beat of the masquerade drums, in our creativity and can be seen in our hardworking attributes, always striving for excellence. We all know that “no matter whey you come from, as long as you are a black man, you’re an African”, because you take an African out of Africa, but you cannot take Africa out of an African/(Blackman). Our distinction as Caribbean people and our constant desires to celebrate, are end products of our heritage and this blend of cultures is what makes us stand out as Montserratians.
One of our National Heroes, Sir Howard Fergus, in his poem National Heroes of St Patrick’s puts it nicely when he said, and I quote: “To Heroes of St Patrick’s Day in whose black breast the multi-colored pulse of freedom beat…”
Yes, we come in different colors, sizes and shapes and irrespective of what angle we wish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Festival, this holiday symbolizes a part of our heritage that defines who we are.
So in the spirit of our ancestors who fought so that we can enjoy the benefit of freedom of expression, let us celebrate this years St Patrick’s in peace, moderation and unity.
God Bless you all!