Sacked Registration Officer for the Constituency of St. John, 62-year old Anthony Gentle believes that there is a sinister move behind the removal of seven of them by Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade.
Speaking to THE NEW TODAY newspaper from his home on Tuesday, Gentle said that he took his work seriously and was shocked when informed that his service are being terminated.
“My office has been always getting positive commendation over the years, and I do my best as I can,” he said.
Gentle indicated that he does not go around playing politics with the job and acknowledged that the move against him will create a financial strain as he has to pay a number of bills.
“Just now I might have to vacate all my utilities because I cannot go and work with anybody else,” he said.
According to Gentle, he knows of at least three other Registration Officers who are older than him and have not been dismissed by Dame Cecile.
During the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing on Tuesday at the Botanical Gardens in St. George’s, Health Minister Nickolas Steele dismissed claims that the removal of the seven Registration Officers was politically influenced.
Minister Steele said government enquired about the dismissals and was told by the Office of the Governor General that some of the reasons had to do with the age of some Returning Officers, and others no longer reside in the constituency for which they were appointed as the Registration Officer.
”Based on the enquiries received from the Governor General’s Office, (we) received enough information that satisfies us that there isn’t any political interference,” Minister Steele told reporters.
According to Gentle, the dismissal has hit him hard since it came as a surprise to him.
“I am not an old man. I am just 62 (years of age) taking 63 and I’m up and about, and there are people (Registration Officers) inside there who are older than me still,” he said.
Gentle who resides at Gouyave Estate, St. John’s, said he received the dismissal letter that was signed by Dame Cecile La Grenade last week Thursday.
Another of the affected Registration Officers, Ronald Simon who served for 32 years said he was called out to a meeting at the Parliamentary Elections Office at Tanteen Terrace, St. George’s and informed by Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip that his contract with the Office has been terminated.
Simon who is 71 years of age said Phillip first read a letter of dismissal to him before passing it on to him.
He said he accepted the termination, but indicated that it will affect him financially.
Efforts by our news desk to contact the other five affected Registration Officers proved futile.
The move comes in the wake of preparation by the two main political parties on the island to prepare for the next general elections widely expected to take place before year-end.
Both the ruling New National Party (NNP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are in the process of selecting their list of candidates for the poll.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and his NNP are already predicting another clean sweep of all 15 seats in the election.