Gov’t, Opposition come together in welcoming Speaker Holness
In what appeared to be a show of unity among members of parliament across the political divide in Gordon House, lawmakers coalesced yesterday to elevate Juliet Holness to the Speaker’s chair.
A second-term member of parliament (MP) for St Andrew East Rural, Holness was nominated by acting leader of government business Delroy Chuck, to the post, while his Opposition counterpart Phillip Paulwell gave support to the proposition.
When Clerk to the Houses of Parliament Valrie Curtis asked whether there was any other nomination for the Speaker’s job, the members shouted “No”.
In long-held parliamentary tradition, Holness, after being announced as the new Speaker, put up resistance in taking the chair and had to be ‘forced’ to take the high seat in Gordon House by fellow lawmakers, Michelle Charles, Krystal Lee and Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn.
Chuck welcomed Holness to the Speaker’s chair and congratulated her on her elevation.
“I can say, Madam Speaker, as someone I have known for over two decades, I have absolutely no doubt that your competence, your skill, your intelligence will ensure that this Parliament is conducted in an orderly [manner] and in a way that the Jamaican people can be proud,” he said.
Chuck added that he was confident that Holness would conduct meetings of the House “without fear or favour, without bias and also to give the opportunity for all the members to participate and to make their voices heard”.
In his comments, Paulwell expressed best wishes to Holness in carrying out her task as Speaker.
“We generally want you to do well so that your tenure can be very successful,” he said.
Heroy Clarke, MP for St James Central, was elected deputy speaker of the House.
His nomination was agreed on by members of the Government and Opposition sides.
In her response, Holness thanked her parliamentary colleagues for “the confidence reposed in me to handle the very difficult job of being the Speaker of this Parliament”.
She added, “I accept my responsibility with great humility and I will always endeavor to ensure that I manage with equity, judiciously, balance and always in keeping with the standing orders of this noble House.”
Holness described as “excellent camaraderie” the gesture by the Opposition to rise and support the nomination of both the Speaker and her deputy.
Holness succeeds Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, who resigned as Speaker effective September 21, 2023.
Dalrymple-Philibert tendered her resignation as Speaker and as MP for Trelawny Southern following a damning report of investigation and ruling by the director of corruption prosecution that she should face eight charges for providing false information in her statutory declaration to the Integrity Commission and for breaching the law.