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House of Parliament - MNT archives

70 Years of Parliament on Montserrat

Speaker of the House Charliena White

Parliamentarians around the region and the UK have been sending messages of celebration to Montserrat on the 70th anniversary of it’s Parliament.

On Sunday, February 20, past and current members of Montserrat’s Legislative Assembly gathered at the Little Bay Park to kick off a week of celebrations of the island’s platinum achievement. Also in attendance was Governor Andrew Pearce, Premier Joseph Farrell, Leader of the Opposition Paul Lewis and other invited guests. On parade were members of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force, Royal Montserrat Police Service and Montserrat Secondary School Cadets.

Current Speaker of the House, Ms. Charliena White acknowledged the presence of the past parliamentarians in attendance such as former deputy premier Delmaude Ryan, parliamentary secretary during the PDM government Gregory Willock and former financial secretaries John Skerritt and John Ryan.

In her opening remarks, the speaker said “May the history books remember your works as great legacies. That you will continue to protect and preserve the sanctity of our fledgling democracy. that will you continue to engage the electorate and every citizen of Montserrat. That they may be involved with their parliament through enhancing our public perception and understanding of parliament and legislative processes. that you may prepare and inspire the next generation to take the torch with pride and dignity.”

MSS Cadets stand at attention in the downpour.

“70 years is no mean feat,” Premier Farrell told the gathering, which was also live streamed. “It is a direct reflection of the constitutional progress we have made from colony, to dependent territory to now an internal self-governing territory. We owe this progress to the ingenuity and the diverse backgrounds of those who joined the struggle. Those who contested elections and those who remained inspired by the idea of freedom, equality, economic empowerment and self government.”

Trinidad & Tobago Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Montserrat legislative office has been receiving congratulatory messages from around the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.

Manzoor Nadir, Speaker of the National Assembly of Guyana extended congratulations to the Speaker of the House, the members of the legislature and the people of Montserrat. “70 years is a very long time in the life of your island. Your island has gone through a lot during this time. ..May you continue to stay safe, live long, progress, serve your people and contribute to regional development.”

Brigid Mary Annisette-George, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago remarked that  “platinum is noted as a noble metal. For although it is a dense mental and extremely resistant to corrosion. it is also malleable and ductile. Platinum could be the quintessential symbol of resilience. Your citizenry certainly has had their resilience tested …in the face of disaster, your democracy has never dissolved into anarchy. Your society has never descended into irredeemable despair.”

Paul Lewis – Leader of the Opposition

“I am making my submission here today, in this 70th year of Parliamentary Democracy on Montserrat, that it is time for us to re-examine and seek to restructure the nature of our relationship with our Mother Country – The United Kingdom,” Leader of the Opposition, Paul Lewis said in his speech.

“Our common goals of development and progress for Montserrat must be better aligned than what we presently have in place. This will require reform. It will require Parliamentary restructuring even. But if the ultimate goal of advancing Montserrat’s development ambitions is better served, then re-defining our relationship with the UK is the most important conversation we must seek to have going forward.”

In his address at the ceremony, Governor Andrew Pearce who leaves office at the end of March 2022, said “Parliaments remain the key. It’s the place for people people set their own vision, their own values. If Montserrat wishes to change its status, if people collectively wish to come together and adjust their relationship with the UK. We will absolutely respect that.”

A moment of silence was held for the founders of Montserrat’s first parliament and all of those who are now deceased.

Deceased Parliamentarians

  1. William H Bramble
  2. Joseph B Chalmers
  3. John S Dublin
  4. Michael Dyer
  5. Margaret M Dyer-Howe
  6. Edward T Edgecombe
  7. Brunel W Edwards
  8. Daniel R V Edwards
  9. David C Fenton
  10. Robert W Griffith
  11. James J Howe
  12. Lazelle G Howes
  13. Charles T John
  14. Richard G Joseph
  15. John C Kelsick
  16. Margaret R Kelsick
  17. Franklin L Margetson
  18. Brunel D Meade
  19. Joseph H Meade
  20. Thomas E Meade
  21. Michael S Osborne
  22. Bertrand B Osborne
  23. John A Osborne
  24. Joseph A Taylor
  25. Mary R Tuitt
  26. Nowell H Tuitt
  27. Michael E Walkinshaw
  28. James C L Wall
  29. John J Weekes
  30. Joshua Weekes

Get more information on the 70th Anniversary of Montserrat’s Parliament on their Facebook page.

More photos from Sunday’s event can be found on our Discover Montserrat Facebook page.