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EDITORIAL: Shining light for disabled

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Shining light for disabled

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The recent visit?by the Earl and Countess of Wessex has generated much discussion in the Press and elsewhere, with some people taking the view that the visit was an unnecessary exercise, and an expensive one to boot.
There are those who would go so far as to argue that the monarchy is not relevant to us and that a native King or Queen reigning in the Republic of Barbados is the way to go.
There may be some merit in these suggestions, but that is not our focus.
We are more concerned with the moment seized by the Deputy President of the Senate Senator Kerryann Ifill, whose address to the joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament was so flawlessly presented that it must have made the hearts of all Barbadians proud.
That the speech was delivered in a fluent confident manner by a young person whose forbears would have received the unencumbered right to vote only a year before Her Majesty the Queen ascended the throne, is itself a remarkable indicator of the rapid constitutional and social changes in our country in the past 60 years.
Ms Ifill is a young black woman whose remarkable accomplishments to date have been achieved despite the challenge of being blind.
She is clearly a person of sharp intelligence and must be a clear role model for all those people who are disabled or challenged by disabilities of one sort or other.
She has been their voice in the past, but nothing that she has done before was so public a demonstration of the innate and immense capacity of the differently able to contribute in very meaningful and fundamental way to the upliftment of our young democracy.
This moment must not be lost. This country needs to build on the example of this talented young woman and all her colleagues, and must pass a Disabilities Act to ensure the disabled in our society have the protection of the law, specially catered to their needs.
We have now had two members of our Senate on different sides of the political divide who were differently abled and considering that it is an appointed Chamber, the plight of the disabled and the passing of a suitable law to ameliorate their position cannot possibly be a political football.
Ms Ifill has done her most important public duty to date and we urge her to continue to contribute to her country at whatever level she can.
We pause to applaud her teachers at both primary and secondary schools because it was the enlightened approach of those entrusted with her education, together with the helpful attitude of her peers at both schools, that has allowed her light to shine.
We congratulate them all on a correctly enlightened approach to disability.
The opportunity afforded Ms Ifill arose because of the incapacity of President Senator Branford Taitt, and as we wish this stalwart of public service well, we remain immensely proud of his Deputy who was able to confirm to all right-thinking Barbadians that the laws of this nation must cater to the special position of our differently abled people.
It is an urgent necessity and the passing of such a law would be a fitting way of commemorating the Diamond Anniversary of Her Majesty’s Accession.