Former senate Presidents speak up

Two former female Presidents of the Senate are concerned about the gradual erosion of the moral fabric of the society as enshrined in the Constitution.

The concerns of Joan Purcell and Margaret Neckles came as they reacted to the recent appointment of Chester Humphrey, an avowed atheist to the third highest position in the country, President of the Senate.

Both Purcell and Neckles appeared on a recent edition of “Sundays with George Grant” programme.

The two former Presidents of the Senate made it clear that they recognise the capabilities of Humphrey, a former member of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, but that their concerns are not based on attacking individuals.

Purcell, a former Minister in the 1990-95 National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, pointed out that the Constitution of
Grenada establishes the country’s moral authority that the nation is founded on principles that acknowledge the Fatherhood and Supremacy of God, and man’s duty towards his fellowman.

She said that is the foundation that they want to keep in tact when they look at the Humphrey appointment to the top State post.

Purcell who served as President of the Senate during the 2008-13 stint in office of Congress under Tillman Thomas felt that if the third most authoritative, powerful position in Grenada is now held by someone who openly says that he does not believe in the God of the Constitution, and does not believe in the Bible then this is sending a very powerful message to the rest of the country.

She said a serious compromise has taken place and the rest of Grenada seems to have been asleep when the erosion took place.

“We feel very strongly that if our foundation is being attacked … we must stand for something, “she told the programme host.

According to Purcell, a member of the Interim Government that  ran the island for one year after the October 25, 1983 U. S-led military intervention to end Grenada’s flirtation with leftwing rule, she is not sure how much she and Neckles can now influence the process but at least they can speak out and say “danger, danger ahead.”

Humphrey, a one-time critic of Prime Minister Mitchell in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, was offered the top Senate post by the Grenadian leader as part of a concept known as “Project Grenada” which seeks to bring persons of different political persuasion together to help build the country.

The scheme has also seen former NDC General Secretary and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter David take out full-fledged membership of NNP and land the post of Senator in the Upper House.




Neckles who served as President of the Senate during the first period of Congress rule under Sir Nicholas Brathwaite told the host of the programme that her faith has been challenged and as everybody else who has a right to take a stand she too is taking a stand by coming out openly to say that her faith was been disrespected with the appointment of Humphrey as the new President of the Senate.

“It is somebody I know very well. I am not attacking him, but I feel my faith was attacked, my faith was challenged” she said.

Neckles felt that in the present society, too many things are being disrespected including life, lack of respect for authority, the police, the law, parents and that things are just allowed to slide into negativity.

Stating that she no longer wants to remain voice less, she noted that if the Church remains silent the people will become voiceless and irrelevant.

The former female Senate President believes that once there is an erosion of the moral fabric of the society then more and more things would be accepted as being right and truth.

She indicated that the Church which is the Body of Christ has the power to speak truth and love, to counsel, object, advise, as well as to protect and to intervene.

This, according to Neckles is what she is attempting to do to help roll back things.

Humphrey succeeded Dr. Lawrence Joseph who demitted Office as President of the Senate on November 30, 2014.

Since taking up the position as the new President of the Upper House, the controversial trade union leader has supervised over two meetings of the Senate and on each occasion allowed Parliamentary Secretary for Information, Senator Winston Garraway to lead of the sitting with opening Prayers.

Humphrey first attracted national attention in the late 1970’s when he and another Grenadian, the late Jim Wardally were arrested in the United States on gun-running charges related to sending of arms and ammunition back to their homeland to help the leftist New Jewel Movement (NJM) to overthrow the elected Eric Gairy government.

Within one year of the change of regime, Humphrey managed to flee the United States and surfaced in Grenada to a hero’s welcome by the then revolutionary leaders.

After the collapse of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, Humphrey was detained and placed at the Richmond Hill prison as the U.S authorities approached the Grenada Government to send him back to the States for trial but a local court ruled against the extradition request.

A freed Humphrey was allowed to continue his trade union activities and ruled the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) with an iron-fist for over 25 years.

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