Stick to what you know, Rev. Massiah
THE WEEKEND NATION of Friday, April 15, 2016, carried the column Outside The Pulpit by Reverend Errington Massiah, headed Petition Not Governor General’s Responsibility.
It described as “nonsense and foolishness” the submission to the Governor General by residents of Belleplaine, St Andrew, of a petition against the planned closure of the Belleplaine Police Station.
The priest must be thanked for the honesty of his initial admission that he did not know what he was talking about, although he went on nevertheless to offer his opinion on the subject.
In the exercise of most of the functions conferred upon his office, the Governor General is bound to act on the advice of Cabinet or a Cabinet minister. However, Section 32(1)(b) of the Constitution empowers the Governor General to act in his own discretion with respect to “any function which is expressed (in any terms) to be exercisable by him”.
He has legal oversight of the Royal Barbados Police Force pursuant to Section 8 of the Police Act, Cap. 167. This provides that the commissioner of police is responsible to the Governor General for “the efficient administration and government of the force, and for the proper expenditure of all public moneys appropriated for the service thereof”.
Hence, the petitioners from Belleplaine were not wrong to send their petition to the Governor General, as the last resort after their concerns were ignored by the police and dismissed by the Attorney General.
I understand that Rev. Massiah is the chaplain to Parliament, but that does not mean that he has any knowledge of the law, besides perhaps the Ten Commandments. My advice to him would be to retreat inside the pulpit, stick to praying and leave the lawyering to lawyers.
– VERITY BLUNT