Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
The usually formal and sombre commissioning ceremony for new justices of the peace for the parish of St Andrew took a decidedly merry tone on Saturday, June 8, when 52 new JPs took on their oath of office at the Sts Peter & Paul Church Hall, Old Hope Road.
The highlights of the evening were very entertaining performances by two top Jamaican reggae artistes, now newly commissioned JPs, Patrick George Barrett (Tony Rebel) and Thomas Lincoln Cowan (Tommy Cowan). They had the audience singing along and rocking in their seats.
Striking a more sober note was guest speaker, Contractor General Dirk Harrison, who told the JPs that their lives had changed and they had now earned the right to display the letters JP behind their names. "This has afforded you the opportunity to ride in a police car, enter the cell block of the police station, attend the questioning by the police of suspects, and attend identification parades," Harrison said.
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF CITIZENS
But he noted, "I trust you have made a decision about where you will sit in the police car, whether you wish to be treated as suspect if caught, or as a justice of the peace who seeks to ensure that the Constitution and the Charter of Rights are fundamentally guaranteed to every citizen," Harrison said.
"Consequently, the perception of being fair, just, reliable, trustworthy, and credible are critical concepts, but not the end all. In my opinion, the appearance of being all of the above does not make you fair, reliable, dependable, trustworthy, or credible. In fact, one must, as a public figure, demonstrate by one's decisions, acts and the judgement made that one is in fact all of the the above," he charged the new batch of St Andrew JPs.
The lengthy programme was presided over by master of ceremonies Commander John McFarlane, while officiating over the ceremony was Custos of St Andrew, the Honourable Marigold Harding.