Fri | Dec 4, 2020

As MPs squabble over renaming, ‘Warmy’ blasts political honours

Published:Wednesday | May 13, 2020 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Dwayne Vaz
Everald Warmington
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DEBATE ON a motion to rename the Ferris Cross to Mackfield road in Westmoreland after Jamaica’s first native governor general, the late Sir Clifford Campbell, was not without ­controversy yesterday, after some opposition lawmakers suggested that the highway honour the memory of ­deceased former MP for the area, Roger Clarke.

Sir Clifford was born in Petersfield, Westmoreland.

The motion, which was moved by St James Central Member of Parliament Heroy Clarke, was passed after a lengthy debate.

Westmoreland Central MP Dwayne Vaz said that Sir Clifford has been recognised in the parish, with a primary school in Savanna-la-Mar, named in his honour.

Vaz said that Clarke, who is his predecessor in the Westmoreland Central constituency, had lobbied extensively in Parliament for the development of the roadway, which was completed at a cost of US$24.9 billion.

“All I am asking is for us to reconsider and think of the different options we have with regard to those who have contributed significantly to this particular parish, to this particular road,” Vaz said.

UNDER FIRE

However, Vaz came under fire from Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, who chided him for bringing the name of the former governor general into disrepute.

“Here is a man who moulds and shapes the political destiny of this country. How can we question or even contemplate whether or not a road should be named in honour of this outstanding Jamaican?” McKenzie asked.

Controversial St Catherine South West MP Everald Warmington had a different view, charging, “I don’t support any infrastructure in this country being named after some politician who served here or there. We were not elected to come here to be honoured in that sense.

“We have the privilege to represent the people of Jamaica, so they owe us nothing to name anything after us,” Warmington insisted.

Renaming of public infrastructure is often dogged by division, and honours are generally made along strict party lines by the administration in power.

Westmoreland Western MP Dr Wykeham McNeill also batted for the major roadway to be named in honour of Clarke. He told his parliamentary colleagues that Clarke fought for the ­development of that road when he represented the area.

McNeill said that in paying ­tribute to Clarke after his passing in 2014, former MP D.K. Duncan made a special appeal that the road be named after the affable MP.

In his brief contribution, MP for St Andrew Western, Anthony Hylton, said at this point in the country’s development, there should be a settled policy on how important infrastructure and projects are named after people who have contributed to the nation.

In 2018, the Opposition People’s National Party raised strong objection to the ­renaming of the North-South section of Highway 2000 in honour of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.