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Holness calls dance to order

BY AALIYAH CUNNINGHAM
Observer writer

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says he understands the concerns of party promoters and entertainers with the 2:00 am lock-off for events, but believes society must find an amicable solution that maintains order.

He was speaking Sunday at the renaming ceremony of Gordon Town Square in St Andrew to Miss Lou Square.

“We hear the cries of the entertainment community. We hear the cries of the dancehall community, we hear the cries of the artistes, the entertainers, the sound system operators; we hear. But, as the society evolves, as the society grows and develops, we must find a consensus on order, order is the basis on which everyone can grow and not just grow, but thrive,” he said.

Holness wants members of the entertainment industry to note that government does not aim to make life difficult for party promoters, nor do they want to drown the lifestyle sector.

“It could never be the intention of the government to stifle the culture which is necessary for the development of our people. I believe there is a way for the sound system operator, musician, entertainer to have their parties if they want to party up to five o'clock,” Holness noted.

His statements follow a meeting last Thursday with Assistant Commissioner of Police Kevin Blake, Romeich Major (Waterworl and Ratingz); Gyete Ghartey and Omar Perrin (Yesterday and Mello Vibes); Sean Parkinson, promoter of the Hardwine party series; and members of Supreme Team Limited (Sandz).

Though the prime minister empathises with industry personnel, he made it clear they must also regard other members of the population.

“In my constituency, where I have embraced this (later lock-off times) and created a hip strip where we have parties five days of the week, I still have to deal with that nurse that comes to me and says, 'Listen, I work at KPH (Kingston Public Hospital) and I cannot sleep'. It is the reality,” Holness reasoned.

“As the leader of the government, at this point in time we cannot just make decisions based on who has the loudest voice and the most influential advocates. We have to make decisions that are fair and respectful of the rights of all citizens,” he continued.

Retro party, Footloose, ended prematurely two Saturdays ago. Police halted the event at 2:00 am, though promoter Tyrone Dixon said his permit reflected a 4:00 am lock-off.

Holness said two years ago, he suggested to Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, that special areas around the island be created to facilitate later lock-offs.