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Royal welcome

Gercine Carter

Royal welcome

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RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE and cries of “queen” greeted Mara Thompson yesterday as Barbados’ newest Member of Parliament arrived at the Parliament Buildings to take her seat in the House of Assembly.
Early morning showers did not deter the large number of people who turned out – most of them St John residents – and they were more numerous than those who had assembled for the official opening of Parliament following the 2008 General Elections.
Shortly before the bell sounded to signal the start of the House session at 10 a.m., the newly-elected representative for St John arrived to a warm welcome from parliamentary colleagues John Boyce  and Donville Inniss and others waiting outside.
She was accompanied by her daughters Misha, Oya and Osa-Marie who headed inside while their mother, accompanied by Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce, strolled towards  the exhuberant crowd to acknowledge their greeting. She was then swarmed by onlookers embracing and kissing her.
Among yesterday’s crowd, were staff of the DLP’s St John constituency office who had assisted with Mara Thompson’s campaign, as well as self-declared DLP stalwarts and loyal friends of the Thompson family such as Hyacinth Mapp and senior citizen Eileen Bryan, who proudly displayed a large photograph of Mara with the late Prime Minister David Thompson, as she waited anxiously to enter the Public Gallery.
One man calling himself “Nard”  repeatedly and vociferously declared his unswerving “long-time” support for Mara Thompson, and was among the first to embrace her as she approached the crowd.
Before Thompson mounted the steps of Parliament, there was also a floral welcome from ten-year-old St John Primary School student, Winette Millington.
“On behalf of the people of St John, I present to you this bouquet as a token of our love, respect and appreciation. We are family”, the young student recited as she presented the bouquet and pinned a corsage on Thompson’s jacket.
Asked how she felt about the moment, an elated, yet composed Thompson responded: “It feels good. I really cannot find the words right now . . . Words cannot describe it . . . Much love.”
For her first day on the job, the St John MP?was smartly outfitted in a dark-coloured, well-tailored two-piece suit, and carried a black brief case.
Mara’s mother Monica Giraudy, supporting herself with a cane, paused briefly to remark to the media: “I am extremely proud,” as she expressed her thoughts on the moment.
Giraudy added: “She has carried on a family tradition. Her father and her husband have been in politics.” Mara’s father, the late Henry Giraudy, an attorney, was a founding member of St Lucia’s United Workers’ Party.
Jeanine Giraudy-McIntyre, who accompanied her mother, said that although political campaign criticism of her sister as a St Lucian contesting a seat in Barbados came as a surprise to the family, “we did not let it bother us.
We just know that she has been loved by the people of St John and she loves them as well”.
An elated Maizie Barker-Welch,  veteran DLP member and former senator, was among the earliest arriving in the Parliament Buildings yard.
With a broad smile she told the Weekend Nation: “I am extremely proud. I have always thought we could do with more women in Parliament. Mara worked beside her husband all the years and endeared herself to the people. She has shown unrelenting commitment.”
Barbados Labour Party MP Cynthia Forde also welcomed Thompson’s entry to the House of Assembly, remarking it was a positive thing for women whom Forde felt had a tremendous contribution to make.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart however declined comment when pressed by the media, telling them “this is Mara’s day”.