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Legislative Assembly Member Donaldson Romeo to Call for Special Committee on Access

Member of the Legislative Assembly Donaldson Romeo is expected to move a motion next Tuesday (January 17, 2023) for the formation of a special committee to look at Montserrat’s access challenges.

Member of the Legislative Assembly Donaldson Romeo

In a statement to the press, Mr. Romeo, a former premier of Montserrat, said “Efforts to provide a ferry and Twin Otter based air lift for the 2022 Christmas/Festival season broke down and led to chaos. In both cases, regulatory issues were key to the challenges. With the St Patrick’s Festival less than three months away, it is urgent for us to learn what went wrong and how to set it right.”

Accordingly, the Legislative Assembly Member is proposing a resolution to set up a special committee of the Assembly, to examine access issues. This is because the legislature has oversight responsibility for matters of good government, and as its members are elected by our people, to represent their interests and concerns. The public outcry regarding access issues shows that there is widespread concern, people suffered needless loss, a third Christmas/Festival season in succession was crippled, there are conflicting claims as to how this happened and so there is need for establishing the facts of the matter, identifying key issues and putting reasonable proposals to solve the problem on the table.

The proposed committee would have Governing Majority and Opposition members, with support staff from Government Departments and the ability to co-opt further members (with approval of the Assembly). It will examine what happened, why, what the relevant regulations and safety issues are, as well as how we can move forward. As the St Patrick’s Festival is so close, it will be tasked to make urgent recommendations to avoid a similar breakdown.

Once set up, the committee would investigate matters, issue inception, interim and final reports and would terminate on issuing the final report (unless its term is extended by the Assembly).

Such a resolution would have to be moved, seconded, debated and voted on by the Assembly, and it is hoped that it will be raised in the January sitting.

The resolution is below:

A Resolution to set up a Special Committee to Report on Access Issues
MLA January 2023

WHEREAS, The Legislature is elected by and accountable to the public for looking after their interest and has oversight responsibility over Government, policy, regulation and practice;
WHEREAS, The Legislature is empowered to appoint special committees to help it to better carry forward such functions;
WHEREAS, The Legislature now finds it expedient to look at the matter of access, related regulations and access policy given recent developments and public concerns:

1. That The Montserrat Legislative Assembly forms a special committee to examine and report on access matters and particularly issues of access by air and by sea including ferries, cargo, docking during rough seas, relevant regulations, air access and related regulations regarding aircraft types and airport facilities, also informed by the access policy.
2. That said Committee shall be called The Access Special Committee, 2023.
3. That The Access Special Committee, 2023 shall constitute one ordinary member each from the Government and Opposition benches (each chosen by his or her side), with its Chairman (or Co-Chairs) chosen by the Assembly, with a recording/correspondence secretary selected from the Legislature Department and a representative from the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Access Coordinator and a representative from the Ministry of Communications. It shall have power to co-opt additional members as approved by the Assembly on review of the inception or interim report(s).
4. That, the Committee and its members shall be bound by due confidentiality but shall have a duty to report to the Assembly and public on findings, analysis and recommendations, including a written majority report and minority remarks down to the individual member, with
an inception report due in one month, an interim report in two months and a final report in three, in the first instance. The inception report shall have a specific task to suggest urgent actions to facilitate access for the St Patrick’s Festival, 2023 and shall lay out how the
committee proposes to carry forward its work.
5. That, the committee shall have power to conduct hearings, inspect documents and accounts, have interviews, carry out town hall meetings and media appearances and other activities expedient for its purpose, setting its procedures as members see fit on a majority
6. That, upon presenting the final report to the Assembly, the committee shall automatically dissolve unless specifically extended for a stated period and purpose by further resolution.

Donaldson Romeo, MLA
January 9, 2023