Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Parliament pays tribute to Roger

Published:Wednesday | September 10, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Roger Clarke

GOVERNMENT backbencher Dr D.K. Duncan wants the Mackfield to Ferris main road in western Jamaica to be renamed in honour of Roger Clarke.

The road connects East Hanover, which Duncan represents in Parliament, to Western Westmoreland, represented by Dr Wykeham McNeill.

It is the main corridor between Montego Bay and Savanna-la-Mar, which falls in Clarke's home constituency, Central Westmoreland.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who led the tributes from members of parliament (MPs) yesterday, described Clarke as one of Jamaica's favourite sons.

Clarke died on August 28 while attempting to return to the island from the United States. His body is to arrive in the island today and will be available for viewing at the People's National Party's Old Hope Road headquarters between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Duncan said Clarke had consistently lobbied for that road, which is said to be in a deplorable state, to be repaired, and that the Government should rehabilitate the roadway.

"We can name that road in honour of a noble, loyal and patriotic representative," Duncan told Parliament in his tribute to Clarke yesterday.

When Simpson Miller spoke, she said Jamaica had lost a champion of the people and that words were insufficient to express the pain being felt.

"There are some moments in our lives for which we are never quite prepared," Simpson Miller said, adding that Clarke's death was one such moment.

TOOk ILL AT AIRPORT

Clarke had gone to the United States for a back operation and rehabilitation.

The agriculture minister was returning to the island with his wife, Sonia, when he collapsed at the Miami International Airport and later died.

Simpson Miller said she was comforted by the fact that he was able to say goodbye to his wife.

"Goodbye, darling. I am going to leave you. I love you. I am going to go now," Clarke told his wife, according to Simpson Miller.

Before yesterday's sitting of the House began, South East St Elizabeth MP Richard Parchment brought a large picture of Clarke and attempted to fit it in the seat the late agriculture minister occupied. It was too big and had to be placed outside.

The words 'Please, do not sit' written on the chair Clarke once occupied on the government front benches and a vase bearing flowers on the desk at which he once operated were confirmation for those in denial that the Central Westmoreland MP had passed.

Opposition MP Karl Samuda, a long-time friend of Clarke, said: "He was an agent of anti-tribalism … . He broke down all the barriers."

Daryl Vaz, the MP for West Portland, revealed that he has been chosen by the Clarke family to be a pall-bearer.

"It means a lot to me, both from where I am coming from on this side and the relationship. It speaks loudly that no matter how passionate Roger was about his party and his politics, he never allowed that to interfere with his personal friendships and relationships and his service to the people of this country," Vaz said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com