Lower House honours deceased Parliamentarians

The Lower House of Parliament, last week Friday stood in a moment of silence to honour the service rendered to the country by three (3) parliamentarians who passed away in recent weeks.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Michael Pierre, requested the house recognise the passing of Herbert Basanta Fletcher, who served in the 1970’s in a labour party government, as well as Independent Senator, Jacqueline Cornwall and Alphonsus Antoine, who was associated with the New National Party (NNP) administration.

Jacqueline Cornwall – was a founding member of GNOW and one of the first women to serve in the Grenada Parliament

“Over the past weeks we have had a few former members…Charles Herbert Basanta Fletcher, Jacqueline Cornwall and Alphonsus Antoine, who have passed on to the great beyond and have made their contributions to this country and to the Parliament of this country…May they rest in peace,” said Speaker Pierre.

Paying special tribute to Jacqueline Cornwall during the sitting of the Lower House, which coincided with International Women’s Day, observed annually on March 8 was Minister for Social Development, Housing and Community Development, Delma Thomas.

Minister Thomas lauded ‘Jackie’ as she was affectionately called for “paving the way” for other women like herself to enter the political arena.

“She was an innovative and strong woman, who fought for the rights of women…”, said the female minister, who is currently serving her second term in government.

The last Jacqueline Cornwall was also a founding member of the Grenada National Organisation for Women (GNOW) and served as the only woman in Parliament in her time.
Medical doctor, Terrence Marryshow, who served a brief stint in parliament along with Cornwall after the 1999 general election, remembered her as one of the most pleasant persons one can ever encounter in a lifetime.

“She was probably one of the most pleasant persons you could ever encounter in your life,” Dr. Marryshow told THE NEW TODAY.

“She was always someone with a smile, that’s how I remember her, very approachable, someone who you could turn to for advice and she was always willing and ready to give that advice.

“Ms. Cornwall was a person always concerned about the plight of the Grenadian people, in particular, Grenadian women (and) I had the distinct pleasure of serving with her in the Parliament in 1999.

Alphonsus Antoine – helped in the formation of the Model Farm concept after the collapse of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution

“The short stint I had with her in the Senate, from 1999 to 2000, it was really an honour and a pleasure because we sat next to each other and we always had lively discussions about the issues that were confronting the country and she was always looking for solutions to those problems.

“I’ve known Mrs. Cornwall since as a child. Actually, my mother, who was a hairdresser used to be her hairdresser when I was growing up…so I’ve known her for a very long time and it was with great sadness when I learned about her passing.

THE NEW TODAY was also able to interview the son of the late Alphonsus Antoine, who is originally from Richmond, La Digue in St. Andrew but resided at Lance Aux Epines up to the time of his death.

Dr. Patrick Antoine, a former Grenada ambassador, recalled the many contributions  made to the country by his father, who was an Economist, specialising in Agricultural Economics.

He recalled that the deceased was the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Grenada Farms Corporation (GFC) that pulled together all the government farms into a model farm framework immediately following the collapse of the 1979-83 Grenada revolution.

However, Patrick, who followed in his father’s footsteps as an economist, noted that prior to this his father “was a very well regarded teacher at the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS)…where he taught Geography, History and Mathematics,” before venturing into the judiciary, where he worked as a “clerk,” for a number of years.

Herbert Basanta Fletcher – served as a minister under the GULP government of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy

The late Antoine has not only made contributions at a national level but regional as well rendering services in Jamaica and St. Lucia.

Patrick said that his father also served as OAS Director in St. Lucia “for seven years…went to Jamaica and worked in various capacities for the Government of Jamaica in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mobilisation, Industry, Planning et cetera”.

“…When the revolution occurred, he came back to Grenada and following the intervention, he was appointed a Senator from 1984-1988 and was also the Deputy President of the Senate”, he added.

THE NEW TODAY understands that former St. Lucia Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony sent a personal note to the Antoine family describing the father as a “kind, generous and decent human being, who conducted himself with honour and integrity.”

The other Parliamentarian who was recognised during last week’s Parliament sitting was Herbert Basanta Fletcher of Beauregard, St. Andrew who was a former Minister under the Sir Eric Matthew Gairy-led Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) government.

Fletcher passed away on February 5 at the age of 91.

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