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July 22, 2014
Gonsalves booed and heckled at funeral of E G Lynch

Not even the pleas of family members, or the admonition of a lay reader at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Georgetown, were able to stop people who were protesting the presence of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves at the funeral of Elwardo Lynch last Saturday.

As he entered the church, Gonsalves was greeted by boos, jeers and cheers, {{more}}from people against or in favour of his presence.

Later, when the Prime Minister was called on to give a tribute to his one-time friend and political adversary “E G” the atmosphere again resembled that of a political rally, rather than that usually associated with a funeral service.

Early in the service, as Gonsalves entered the building, Keino Spring, one of Lynch’s sons, who resides overseas, was the first to appeal for calm, when the crowd started their unruly behaviour, but to no avail.

“…This is not about you, it’s not about me, it’s not about Ralph, its not about Eustace, it’s about my dad! So just for one moment, for two hours, if you can just put it aside and just give him the respect he deserves, when we’re finished you will have an opportunity to make noise in the right way just not now please, OK?

“If you respect my dad, you will at least give him that much just for the day….” Spring said as he tried to rise above the racket.

Then, as if acting on cue, as the Prime Minister was called to speak, some members of the congregation began loudly protesting Gonsalves’ presence at the lectern.

Apart from the loud booing, jeering, and people exiting the building in rowdy protest, a yellow bell found its way into the church, and was loudly rung by a number of women, until the ringers were each escorted out of the sanctuary.

Further appeals for calm by Lynch’s daughter Shafia London-Williams proved futile, and a lay reader, who reminded the demonstrators that his “God was a God of order,” was ignored.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that some top officials of the New Democratic Party, who were seated in the front pews were asked to try to bring order to the proceedings, but the appeals fell on deaf ears.

Because of the loud noise, Gonsalves did not read his tribute, but instead briefly expressed condolences to the family, and said he would publish his tribute at a later date. Shortly after leaving the funeral, he read his tribute on Star Radio.

Those paying tribute at the service included leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace and former leader of the NDP Sir James Mitchell. Bryan Alexander gave the eulogy.

Alexander said Lynch’s thirst for knowledge was unquenchable and nothing was “too trivial or even too high brow for E G.”

Lynch, he said, was a shrewd businessman, loved to dress well, and even tried his hand at calypso, performing under the name “Teach”.

Alexander described Lynch’s intellect as “stinging” and said when he was hosting the New Times programme, he quickly analysed callers and “in few words either relate to the essence of their complaint or hit them a stunning blow.

“He kept women and men of far greater formal education in complete awe of his mental and verbal prowess,” Alexander added.

In his tribute, Eustace said the NDP owes Lynch a debt of gratitude.

The Reverend Father E Ulric C Jones was the chief celebrant and delivered the sermon.

Following the service, the crowd, estimated to be in the thousands, in a celebratory atmosphere, escorted Lynch to his final resting place; the Georgetown Cemetery.

Speculation as to whether the Prime Minister would attend the funeral was high in the days leading up to the service, as Gonsalves, during a press conference last week Monday, said that although he wanted to be at the service, he was unsure if he would be able to attend, if his presence would encourage people to bring disrespect to the event. People close to the New Democratic Party called for people to boo Gonsalves if he attended.