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PM calls for a dispassionate discussion on national heroes

PM calls for a dispassionate  discussion on national heroes

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It is hoped that by National Heroes’ Day, 2013 at least one additional person would be officially named to the order of National Hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

And leading up to the naming of the new hero or heroes, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves hopes that a robust, honest, reflective and respectful debate could be held among the citizens of this country.

As he gave the keynote address at the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill in recognition of National Heroes Day on March 14, the Prime Minister said the process to appoint additional national heroes has already begun in accordance with the Order of National Hero Act, Chapter 5 of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Nine persons will be appointed to the National Heroes’ Advisory Committee by the Governor General, who is the Chancellor of the Order.

Two of the members of the committee will be appointed by the Governor General in his absolute discretion; two persons will be recommended by the Prime Minister, one by the Leader of the Opposition, and three others approved by the Governor General, in consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition from a list of names submitted by local non-governmental organizations.

The Advisory Committee will have the responsibility to receive and consider nominations of persons upon whom the Order should be conferred and to carry out investigations to determine persons upon whom the honour may be conferred. The committee may consult with other persons or bodies as it thinks necessary. All findings of the Committee will be reported to the Governor General who would submit the report to Cabinet for consideration.

To be eligible to be named a national hero of this country, a person must be born in St Vincent and the Grenadines, or at the time of his or her death, be a citizen of SVG or entitled to be a citizen of SVG.

Persons considered for the Order should satisfy one of three criterai. First, the person should have given outstanding service to SVG and his or her contribution should have altered positively the course of the history of SVG. Second, the person should have given service to SVG which has been exemplified by visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attainmentment of the highest excellence which has redounded to the honour of SVG, or third, the person should have, through heroic exploits and sacrifices, contributed to the improvement of the economic, social and political conditions of SVG generally.

The person must be dead.

Several names have already been suggested for possible candidacy, including Captain Hugh Mulzac, Elma Francois, George McIntosh, Ebenezer T. Joshua, Robert Milton Cato, and Dr. J. P. Eustace.

The Prime Minister pleaded that discussions of candidates for the Order should not be used to settle scores.

“I know that there are some people who are alive, who worked with or against persons like Ebenezer Joshua and Milton Cato. We must not allow this debate to be used to settle scores, because some persons may have a score which they want to settle. Well, please don’t use it for that. Let’s have a dispassionate discussion. And let us use it for a unifying purpose, and let us use it for upliftment and national reconciliation.”

In 2002, Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer was appointed to the Order of National Hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. To date, he is the only person to have been so honoured.

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