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HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) – The former speaker of the House of Assembly, John Barritt, died yesterday. He was 98. Premier Craig Cannonier has since expressed his “sadness" at Barritt’s death, describing him as “a community servant in every sense, serving people through his church and as a longstanding Member of Parliament for Devonshire South, government minister and Speaker of the House for ten years from 1979 to 1989. “He was by all accounts an excellent MP, always approachable and ever caring; a man who looked after his constituents’ needs and the affairs of the country. In his time in the Speaker’s chair, Mr Barritt was regarded as a fair and wise man, whose calm and civil demeanour helped keep the lid on an often fractious House of Assembly,” he added. A prominent Bermuda businessman and keen sportsman, Barritt was awarded the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1983. Cannonier said in a statement: “It is with sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of the Hon. F. John Barritt, CBE, long-time Speaker of the House of Assembly. Premier Cannonier became leader of the ruling One Bermuda Alliance, (OBA) after Barritt's son, John, gave up his seat in Devonshire South Central allowing him to contest the by-election and becoming Opposition Leader.