UDP picks deputy leader

The ruling United Democratic Party leadership has selected Works Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as its second-in-command, based on a vote of the party leadership in a general council meeting held this week.

UDP General Secretary Ellio Solomon said Wednesday that five or six representatives from each Cayman Islands electoral district participated in the voting and a majority selected Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly as deputy leader to support Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush.

The selection will have effects on the daily operation of government outside of party politics. It assures Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly’s position as Acting Leader of Government Business if Mr. Bush is out of the country.

Education Minister Rolston Anglin had been serving in that role immediately following the country’s 20 May elections.

It also gives Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly the inside track to become Cayman’s first Deputy Premier when the country’s new constitution comes into effect. That’s expected to happen in early November, although Governor Stuart Jack has still not set an exact date.

Mr. Bush confirmed Wednesday that the long-serving representative from Cayman Brac would be chosen as Acting Leader and also become Deputy Premier.

If he wished, Mr. Bush could have acted on his own authority under the Constitution and chosen someone else.

‘A party is about consensus, and I accept their recommendation,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘I’m privileged to have Julie chosen by the party. Julie is very educated; being a lawyer and a teacher both…next to me she’s the second longest-serving member of our party (in the Legislative Assembly).’

‘Julie is a woman and she is from the Sister Islands, so I think the party is well balanced,’ Mr. Bush added.

Mr. Solomon said that Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly was not replacing Mr. Anglin, who had never been formally given the title of deputy leader of government business.

‘We always knew we would be voting for a deputy (party) leader…he (Mr. Anglin) was never officially named as deputy leader,’ Mr. Solomon said.

Mr. Anglin declined to comment when contacted about the matter on Wednesday.

When questioned, Mr. Bush said that there were no hard feelings within the UDP about Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly’s selection.

‘Why should there be?’ he asked.

Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly could not be reached for comment by press time.