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Reese moved because of Armadale?

Published:Saturday | March 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Arthur Hall, Gleaner Writer

The government has given the clearest indication yet that the fire at the Armadale Juvenile Correction Centre was behind the planned transfer of permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese.

Since The Sunday Gleaner broke the story of the transfer at the start of the week, there has been speculation that Reese was being punished for his inaction, which led to the tragedy, or his treatment of the report by sole commissioner Mr Justice Paul Harrison.

Even as it confirmed the report of the transfer and announced that Reese had been moved to the Local Government Division in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Bruce Golding administration gave no indication of the reason for the surprise move.

PM's instruction

But yesterday, the Ministry of National Security announced that Golding had instructed that the report of the commission of enquiry into the Armadale tragedy be referred to the Public Service Commission for it to determine what action should be taken against those public servants who had been found negligent.

The release noted that the Harrison report had found negligence on the part of administrators of the Ministry of National Security, members of the Department of Correctional Services, and police officers.

The security ministry stated: "The disciplining of members of the public service is the prerogative of the Public Service Commission as stipulated in the Constitution."

However, in a thinly concealed reference to Reese, the ministry said: "Under Section 126 of the Constitution, the prime minister has the authority to transfer permanent secretaries.

"The prime minister has no authority to transfer any other public officer or to impose any other sanction," the release said.

It noted that acting com-missioner of Police Owen Ellington had already interdicted four members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

Seven wards of the State died in the fire at Armadale last year. A commission of enquiry found that much of the blame should be placed at the feet of state agents.