The Tanteen Roundabout and the Botanical Gardens in St. George’s will be named after Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, the island’s first Prime Minister and now called “The Father of Independence”.
In delivering the traditional national address last Friday at the Military Parade at Queen’s Park to mark the island’s 40th Anniversary of Independence, Dr. Mitchell confirmed reports circulating in the country in recent weeks that his one-year old government would be naming a historical site after Sir Eric.
Dr. Mitchell said that in recognition of the man who laid the foundation for Grenada’s independence from Britain, it is fitting to recognise him for having “the courage to chase such an audacious dream.”
“Sir Eric Gairy, your audacious call echoes from the hills of Mt. St Catherine to the beaches of Grand Anse; and from the historic fishing village of Gouyave in the West to the eccentric shorelines of Marquis in the East,” the Prime Minister said.
According to Dr Mitchell, as an expression of the gratitude for Sir Eric’s life’s work and vision, his government has taken the decision to rename both the Tanteen Roundabout and the Botanical Gardens after the former Prime Minister.
In addition, a commemorative stamp was unveiled during the national rally in recognition of Sir Eric.
“Sir Eric, we salute you. Today, the result of Sir Eric’s bold Independence experiment is visible, and is mirrored in the academic, sporting, and professional exploits of our people, and in the building and sustaining of this democracy through 40 years”, remarked Dr. Mitchell.
This will be the first landmark site in Grenada to be renamed after Sir Eric in recognition of the contribution of the ex-Prime Minister who served Grenada as Premier between 1967-74 and then as the first Prime Minister from 1974-79.
Born in the parish of St Andrew, Sir Eric served as a teacher before he migrated to Aruba to work in the oil fields with several other Grenadians.
On his return to Grenada, Gairy got straight in the trade union movement and formed the Grenada Manual, Maritime and Intellectual Workers Union (GMMIWU) to articulate on behalf of estate workers.
He soon became “a working class hero” after he successfully organised an islandwide strike throwing the country into civil strife as workers protested against low wages and poor working conditions on the estates.
This placed him firmly in the leadership of labour on the island and in 1951 he contested the first General Elections under the banner of the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP), which he also founded.
He dominated the political landscape until he was overthrown from power on March 13, 1979 by the leftist New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Maurice Bishop.
In the Queen’s New Year Honours of 1977, Sir Eric was elevated to membership of the Privy Council and, later that year, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, was made a Knight Bachelor.
Sir Eric died on August 23, 1997.