May 3, 2013

Gonsalves – I have not interfered with selection process

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has said that he has in no way interfered with anything regarding the selection of the next national hero.{{more}}

Gonsalves, on April 18, presented a paper at the University of the West Indies’ Open Campus, in which he made the case for George McIntosh, Ebenezer Joshua and Robert Milton Cato to be considered as candidates for national hero.

His presentation, however, has received some criticism.

One person crying foul was lawyer Jomo Thomas, a former member of the National Heroes Committee, who resigned from the committee in protest.

Gonsalves said if people read what he said about George McIntosh, Ebenezer Joshua, Robert Milton Cato and Dr J.P Eustace and have been influenced, then he was happy that he was able to do so.

“And this is not an influence that I have brought with a gun to their heads; this is influence that I’ve brought with open, public discourse,” Gonsalves said.

He was at the time speaking at a media briefing and said that it would have been strange had he not had an opinion on such an important historical matter such as this.

“Or that I should wait until I get the report from the National Heroes Advisory Committee then I get involved,” the Prime Minister said.

He said that he clears his mind of prejudices and that he does not set himself as an arbiter of the nation’s history.

“It is true that as Prime Minister, I have an important say, because simply I am Prime Minister,” he said, adding that he was not an itinerant worker and that the law gives him the right to advise the Governor General.

He said that he was pleased that he had the ability to look at things dispassionately and that he had raised a number of other names, including educator and editor Norma Keizer, Spiritual Baptist leader McDonald Williams and Archbishop of the Spiritual Baptist Church Cosmore Pompey.

According to Gonsalves, there are a number of names that could be raised and that he raised those that he did as a historian and to bring some clarity to a number of issues.

He said that he did not want anyone to say that Ralph was not a professional historian, but he did study the history of the country.

“And I have made a judgment that they should be given some serious consideration,” Gonsalves said. (DD)