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Democracy ‘must be at forefront’

marciadottin, [email protected]

Democracy ‘must be at forefront’

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BARBADOS MUST GUARD against people’s participation in democracy being limited to five minutes in a polling station every five years.
Bishop of Barbados Dr John Holder made this appeal yesterday at St Mary’s Anglican Church during a two-hour service marking the 375th anniversary of Parliament.
Bishop Holder told the gathering that included Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur that it was something the island had to be “constantly” on guard against.
Delivering the sermon, he said too that polling day should not be regarded as the end of a democratic process, but just a start.
He also told MPs not to allow the promises they made at election time to die or for themselves to become disconnected from the people.
“The benefits of parliamentary representation and democracy must be more for each citizen . . . far more than the opportunity to spend five minutes in a polling booth every five years,” he asserted.
“It must be an affirming experience that helps all of us to feel that we are part of the process to keep this country going from day to day.”
He urged legislators not to allow the 375th anniversary celebrations to end without reflecting on the critical role they play in democracy.
He said members of the Senate and the House of Assembly should also protect the country’s legacy of parliamentary representation and democracy.
Speaker of the House Michael Carrington admitted that the history of Parliament was not a perfect one but he pointed out that over many years adjustments had been made to the system of representation to improve it.
He said efforts to improve the system needed to continue.
Highlights of the service included the music of The Band of the Royal Barbados Police Force; a solo – How Great Thou Art – by Dawn Ward;  the reading of passages from the Bible by Prime Minister Stuart, Mottley, Leader of Government Business in the House John Boyce; and prayers for the nation by religious leaders.
The service was preceded by a procession of members of the Senate and the House of Assembly from the Parliament Buildings, through Bridgetown to the church. (TY)