Residents in the Cayman Islands turned out in droves to see a new constitution come into effect and to see the swearing in of the Island’s first premier, McKeeva Bush, on Friday
The day was designated a public holiday in honour of the occasion.
Also sworn into office on Friday were Deputy Premier Juliana O’ Connor-Connolly and Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks.
An otherwise overcast morning gave way to the sun’s rays as the historical ceremony got underway. The sounds of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Marching Band provided the musical backdrop to the parade, which preceded the ceremony and featured corps from the Fire Department and Cadets, among others.
Governor Stuart Jack also offered remarks and inspected the Guard of Honour for the last time before he returns to England later this month.
Mr. Jack encouraged the people of the Cayman Islands to embrace their new constitution and praised all involved with the process.
Premier McKeeva Bush told the crowd of onlookers that it was only by the grace and mercy of God that he, a little boy from ‘Old Bush’ West Bay, could have realised such a calling.
He said he had many people to be grateful to and nostalgically chronicled his 25-year odyssey in politics, calling the latter a ‘hard task master’.
Mr. Bush said he had taken many floggings from political adversaries on the opposition, as well as the governor but assured the onlookers: ‘You know I can handle them.’
Mr. Bush said he was thankful to the men and women with whom he had the privilege of serving beside in the Legislative Assembly and made special mention of those that have ‘gone to glory’.
In promising the Caymanian people that he would defend the Islands without apology, Mr. Bush spoke of a former attorney general – referring to David Ballantyne – and how a stand had to be taken in bringing his tenure to a close.
He added that he had to sue the United Kingdom before and would do so again if necessary, but invited a true relationship as the way forward, saying it cannot be a one-way street.
‘The relationship cannot be a leaky ship or it will sink,’ he said.
The Premier implored the youth of Cayman to take their education seriously and stressed that ‘an uneducated Cayman would be an unsafe Cayman’.
Mr. Bush joked that due to budgetary constraints; only $25,000 was spent on Friday morning’s festivities.
He acknowledged however, that the money had accomplished much and said he was proud of everyone who participated.
The premier also took the opportunity to publicly address the governor with regard to the quest to uncover corruption in the Cayman Islands’ police force and told Mr. Jack, ‘We do have the integrity. Tell them that when you return.’
He said the next generation of Caymanians were not as tolerant as he and urged that people should be preparing themselves for the inevitable eventuality of independence.
He elaborated that this was not something that was imminent, but would happen at some point.
Mr. Bush said Cayman was taking responsibility for itself as result of Friday’s exercise and pointed out that the matters of finance, international affairs and policing would now be in the hands of the people of the Cayman Islands.
He said the new constitution was written for ‘us by us’ and was not a document simply prepared on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands.
‘Today is for the Caymanian people,’ declared Mr. Bush, who added that the United Democratic Party was alive and well and he was feeling especially well and physically up to the tasks that lie ahead.
Several dignitaries from other islands nations also attended the ceremony including the Premier of the British Virgin Islands Ralph O’Neal.