Roman Catholic Priest, Father Gerard Paul has lashed out at the high level of corruption taking place in Grenada without giving any of the specifics.
Delivering a sermon at funeral service for the late Editor of THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Wayne Modeste at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Church Street St. George’s last Thursday, the controversial priest called on media professionals in Grenada to take the time to expose the high-level corruption that is plaguing the country.
The very vocal clergyman said that Journalists have a responsibility to relay the truth to the public, no matter how ugly it may be.
“As a journalist, you swore an oath to truth, maybe not ritually but fundamentally; that’s your calling. Your allegiance is to writing the truth, speaking the truth, because as we say in the scriptures, the truth will set us free, if we know the truth, it will set us free”, he told journalists attending the funeral service.
“…When you are called to the master, he would want you to give him an account of what you have done in your job…as journalists we ought to speak to truth, to write the truth and in life be a faithful journalist…being a true journalist is not for the faint hearted, it calls for a lot of courage, a lot of faith, it’s never easy to speak the truth,” he said.
Fr. Paul ran afoul of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell some years ago when an attempt was made to alter a speech he had delivered at the Independence celebrations at Queen’s Park.
According to Fr. Paul there is a lot of corruption that needs to be exposed in the country.
He dropped hints that the current rulers on the island would be uneasy with those who seek to expose the ongoing corruption.
“What you say causes nightmare for people in high positions…when you speak the truth…there are going to be implications. Wherever you are, you are a Journalist, that’s what you do daily… everything that is happening in this country; so much of what is happening in this country is about corruption.
“…We know that corruption is destroying the fabric of the society, the very formation of the society, it is destroying the institutions that have kept our society together. It continues to the roots of our society, we are losing our roots, and why are you journalist not paying much attention to this issue – why?
“Yes, I know, your resources are scarce, investigative journalism is costly, and so on but you have to ask yourself that question because the price you will be able to pay tomorrow, and even today for the corruption that is high and low and weak … in this country is going to be very hard to pay and in fact already is paying a very, very high price for it.
Transparency International has ranked Grenada as the most corrupt country in the Windward Islands grouping in the area of Public Sector corruption.
The island was rated 8% points ahead of Dominica (38), which was followed by St. Lucia and St. Vincent, which tied on 35% each based on the Corruption Perception Index 2016.
Public Advocate Jude Bernard backed up the claim by alluding to “widespread institutionalised corruption in our society”.
Bernard has said that the evidence of corruption is hurting and infringing on the possibilities of development in the country and continues to be one of the major deterrents to unity and development.
He also mentioned the situation, which existed a few years ago in which the Manager of the largest road Construction Company on the island was the tenant of the Minister of Works for over a decade and the Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) being the spouse of a Government Minister.
Bernard also said that there is a perception of corruption when the Citizens By Investment (CBI) or passport-selling scheme is headed by the spouse of a Government Minister and many of its agents are either spouses or close family members of persons with Parliamentary positions.
The NNP under Mitchell’s leadership has often been dogged with charges of corruption in public office.
Fr. Paul warned journalists that their failure to expose the corruption taking place in the country will do a lot of harm to the island.
“Unfortunately, so many people in high places, so many people that is supposed to be exposing it – it’s not just a matter for journalists – are literally covering it up. We are not giving our people some sense of ethical standards … that we can demand of them”, he said.
“…We find for example people who are involved in corruption and in theft…people go to do that and you say, we hitting them a shot, you know so it’s not “tiefing”, it’s not corruption, I’m just putting down a shot or I’m just making a pie, it’s not to be judged by any individual, I’m just making a pie or I’m just making a hustle,” he added.
The fiery Roman Catholic priest urged journalists to dig deep and expose those who need to be for taking part in corruption in the Spice Isle.
“We have a grave responsibility to the youths and the younger generation to come. The only how … you make a journalist, is when you start to dig deep, dig really deep and uncover the darkness and give the people a strong sense and a good vision of where our society should be going and should not be going,” he remarked.
About three months ago, former political detainee, Evan Bhola took issue with Fr. Paul for calling on the U.S and Grenadian authorities to return the bodies of executed Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and his Cabinet colleagues who were killed on October 19, 1983 in a bloody palace coup within the then ruling New Jewel Movement-led People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG).
Bhola said the emphasis should be more on those persons who are still in need of physiological treatment from the atrocities meted out to them by the former revolutionary leaders.