Sun | Feb 25, 2018

Senate pays tribute to McPherson, Saunders

Published:Saturday | March 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Joseph McPherson
Fay Saunders

Members of the Upper House yesterday paid tribute to Joseph McPherson, a former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) senator and trade unionist who died recently.

Senator Kavan Gayle described McPherson as a stalwart in both the JLP and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU).

He served in the Senate between 1962 and 1972.

A 'rockstone' Labourite, Gayle said McPherson never missed a political or civic event.

Founder and editor of the Voice Magazine, which dealt with political issues, McPherson also held the position of executive director of the Jamaica Institute of Political Education.

Hailed as a "consummate trade unionist", Gayle said McPherson was instrumental in the recruitment of officers to fill positions in the BITU.

"He was a small man ... but had a very big heart," Gayle told his colleagues in the Senate, noting that when he ran against veteran politician Portia Simpson Miller in 1976 for the St Andrew South West seat, he expressed confidence that he would win the seat for the JLP.

However, Opposition senator Lambert Brown said McPherson helped Simpson Miller - who declared herself to be the 'nine-star general' of her people - to gain her first star when the young People's National Party (PNP) candidate defeated him to take the constituency from the JLP.

Brown pointed out that McPherson served in the then Legislative Counsel, and when Jamaica gained independence, he was appointed by Sir Alexander Bustamante as one of the 13 senators for the Government.

He served with political heavyweights such as Sir Howard Cooke, Michael Manley, Sydney Phillips, Dudley Thompson and Frank Hill.

The late senator and trade unionist was awarded the Order of Distinction in 1997 for outstanding service to the trade union movement in Jamaica, as well as to journalism.




Members of the Upper House also paid tribute to the late Fay Saunders, who died on Thursday after a long illness. She was the first woman to be appointed president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA). She also served as a secretary-general for the association, as well as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Education for the PNP government.

The JTA said Saunders can be characterised as a trailblazer in several ways and can best be described as a phenomenal woman.

The Senate observed a minute of silence in memory of both McPherson and Saunders.