Daraine Luton, Sunday Gleaner Reporter
Ian Hayles (left) and Ralston Anson (centre) address reporters following constituency elections in Western Hanover in 2006. - Photo by Claudia Gardner
AT AGE 35, Ian Hayles is one of the youngest Members of Parliament in Gordon House.
However, with the exception of his constituents in Western Hanover, many Jamaicans do not know him; some have heard his name, but few can put a face to the name.
His name, though, has gone around the country like a firestorm since Thursday's official opening of Parliament at George William Gordon House in Kingston, when he failed to shake the hand of Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Didn't acknowledge PM
Moments after taking the Oath of Office, Hayles followed protocol by shaking hands with Speaker Delroy Chuck. And as a matter of courtesy and common practice, he shook hands with Derrick Smith; but he failed to acknowledge Prime Minister Golding, who was seated beside Mr. Smith.
Responding to the maelstrom that ensued, Hayles says his action had not been intentional.
"I am very sorry about it. It was just an oversight ... I was overwhelmed by the occasion. In fact, I was very nervous," Hayles tells The Sunday Gleaner.
As condemnation and reactions continue to swirl, Hayles' story of life in politics remains untold.
'Just who is Ian Hayles?' many are asking.
The young politician tells The Sunday Gleaner that he was born in the People's National Party (PNP) bedrock of George's Plain in Central Westmoreland. He later moved to Sir Alexander Bustamante's birth district, Blenheim in Hanover, and then to Cave Hill, also in the parish, where he spent his early-childhood days before migrating to the United States at age 13.
Hayles says his mother, Pauline Brown, was an organiser for the PNP, the party he turned his back on when he joined the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in 2000, and that his life in the JLP "only confirmed how much of a Comrade I am".
"It was an uncomfortable position. I was the only one out of that household that ever entertained talk about the Jamaica Labour Party," Hayles says.
In the United States, Hayles read for a bachelor's degree in business administration. In 2000, Hayles felt compelled to contribute more to the development of Jamaica. He wrote former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, offering to help in Jamaica's development.
"I spent 21 years abroad. I was invited back, to come home to Jamaica, by the People's National Party. Things did not go as planned and whatever commitments were made to me were not kept," Hayles says.