New House Speaker Mary Lawrence has urged the public to reclaim ‘their parliament’ by flocking to the Legislative Assembly to keep check of what is happening in government.
After the new United Democratic Party government was sworn in before over 1,000 people on the steps of the LA Wednesday, onlookers crammed into the public gallery as proceedings moved inside.
It was one of the biggest crowds the LA has seen in years, leaving legislators under no illusions about who they work for.
‘This is your parliament,’ Mrs. Lawrence said at the day’s proceedings drew to a close. ‘Please come back so you can see how government works and how politics is played out in your country.’
Taking up her new post Wednesday morning, Mrs. Lawrence – only the second non-MLA to serve as speaker (the first was Sybil McLaughlin in 1991) – said she was greatly honoured by the appointment.
She said she will strive to ensure dignity and fairness is maintained even as the controversial issues are debated in the house.
She warned lawmakers she will not tolerate personal attacks in the chamber or the abuse of parliamentary privileges to target hapless members of the public.
‘It behoves us all to be aware that powers granted to the membership are granted by the people with the view that this assembly will serve them,’ she said.
Mrs. Lawrence’s appointment was a popular choice Wednesday and the political veteran (Mrs. Lawrence has made repeated unsuccessful runs for the LA since 1968) wasted no time making her presence felt, rebuking lawmakers on both sides of the House for hurling insults at each other.
More first timers
Also experiencing their first day in the Legislative Assembly were four newly elected UDP MLA’s as well as North Side independent, Ezzard Miller, who returns after last serving in the LA in 1992.
Ellio Solomon, the former talk show host and now George Town MLA, paid special tribute to his disabled daughter Shawn Renee, who he said has been a tremendous inspiration to him.
‘When one can see someone that has been through what she has been through and every morning when the sun comes up she can wake up with a smile on her face; [it makes me realise] if she can do it then I can and it continues to push me to move forward,’ he said.
Mr. Solomon pledged to stick by all the downtrodden and battling people he met on the campaign trail that had pleaded that he not forget them if he made it to the LA.
‘I have made it here and Ellio Solomon and the United Democratic Party will not let them down,’ he said.
New Health Minister Mark Scotland pledged to focus on providing preventive healthcare to the Islands; a focus he said will be underpinned by providing more sporting opportunities for Cayman’s youth.
He described the financial position of the HSA as very poor and pledged to take urgent steps to turn the hospital’s financial situation around. Any worsening of the HSA’s financial situation will require it to cut back its services, he warned.
Describing the day as one of the proudest of his life, Mr. Scotland pledged to go to work thinking not of the next election, but of the next generation.
New Bodden Town MLA Dwayne Seymour said he hoped his success will prove to others that ‘all things are possible, even with very little.’ He flagged plans to improve standards at Bodden Town schools and said he would work to ensure children have more sporting opportunities.
Newly elected George Town MLA and Cabinet Minister Mike Adam said he was completely overwhelmed by the confidence voters had showed in him, and pledged to work for team Cayman.
But he seems destined to forever retain the ‘s’ suffix his UDP colleagues have attached to his surname throughout the election campaign, being nominated for his new cabinet post by Mr. Solomon as Michael Adams.
‘I get up every morning thinking about what I can do to make these Islands safer and more prosperous and make our country all that it can be,’ Mr. Adam said. ‘As difficult as the times are … I believe we can do what we set our minds to do,’ he said.
Mr. Miller promised Mrs. Lawrence, his former teacher, that he will be he will ‘be a good boy’ in the House. But he cautioned that he will also stretch the rules for his North Side constituents where necessary.