Contentious issues were addressed in constitutional talks, says Minister Riley

BRADES, Montserrat – Complete information about the constitutional talks must be given says Minister of Education & Health Colin Riley.

The minister was speaking during the first Montserrat Diaspora Consultations, which ended on Wednesday challenging Opposition Member Donaldson Romeo’s statement that the present administration is rushing the ratification of the new draft constitution.

Mr. Romeo believes that the opposition and also the general public have not been given ample time to discuss the changes to the constitution and the June 29th plan to ratify the order in the legislative council is too soon.

“We were only informed last week that it will be tabled next week and as you have heard from the comments made during the recent radio discussions on the constitution, many in the public are of the opinion that more time is needed,” explained the opposition member.

However, Minister Riley said during the May 2010 discussions with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials to discuss the constitution “all contentious issues were addressed and were brought to the table. One example of this was the position that the governor should have the right of call on the consolidated fund. Basically, he would have the right to decide what happens with our budget. We said no way and that this should be the jurisdiction of the Minister of Finance. FCO said they would consider it and the next day it was removed from the draft.”

“Those who were a part of the process should speak completely about what they saw (in those discussions) and not isolate certain issues for effect,” said the minister.

Minister Riley added, “What is contained in the document is the result of the work which has been ongoing since 2001 through consultations on Montserrat and throughout the Diaspora.”

Mr. Romeo told the Diaspora representatives that they can play a major role in lobbying there UK members of parliament on behalf of Montserrat and encouraged them to do so.

Dorothy Greenaway, a national now living in the UK said on Tuesday that this process has been going on long enough and it was time it came to a close. “Since 2001 Sir Howard Fergus has been working on this new constitution. He used to share on a weekly basis in the newspaper the Constitution in Small Doses. To say that the people are not informed is wrong.”

ENDS

Opposition Member Donaldson Romeo. Former Principal of the Brades Primary School and now a UK resident, Ms. Dorothy Greenaway. Both participated in the first Montserrat Diaspora Consultation which took place at the Montserrat Cultural Centre from June 21 – 23, 2010.

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