THE number of national heroes won’t be increased from the current seven any time soon despite a recent decision to re-establish the advisory committee which presides over the selection of persons to be given the Order of National Hero.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding last Thursday sought the parliamentary approval of a resolution he tabled Wednesday seeking to affirm the nomination of two members of the House to sit as members of the advisory committee as required by the National Honours and Awards Act.
But Golding hastened to say this was not to be seen as a sign that the ranks of the national heroes would swell.
“I want to quickly indicate that this is not an expression of any intention for us to establish new national heroes although that is something the committee will consider and advise before a decision is made,” Golding told parliamentarians.
He went on to note that “the law requires that such a committee exist, and such a committee existed up to 2008, but because of certain failure of communication there was a period during which there was no committee”.
“That is now being corrected. I consulted with the Leader of the Opposition who nominated from that side the member for South East St Ann (Lisa Hanna), and this side has nominated the member for Central St Catherine (Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange) to be the two representatives from the House of Representatives,” the prime minister said.
The Senate will now be required to nominate two members from that House who will form part of the committee which involves a number of other persons appointed by Golding.
On Thursday the prime minister said from earlier consultations with the leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller it was decided that Professor Kenneth Hall (former governor general) would chair the committee. The other members of the the committee
confirmed so far are Carey Robinson, Hugh Nash (chairman of Jamaica Cultural Development Commission) and Dr Maria Smith. One other person is to be added.
“This committee is intended to examine the question of whether or not a new order should be awarded and to give us their recommendation. I do feel, as we approach our 50th year of Independence, that it is one issue that ought to be addressed by the committee, and, as has happened in the past, the committee considered it and reported and recommended that there be no new appointment... I wouldn’t want to pre-empt whatever recommendation they may make,” Golding said.
The system of Honours and Awards consists of five Orders as well as the Medal of Honour and the Badge of Honour. The Orders are: the Order of National Hero, the Order of the Nation, the Order of Merit, the Order of Jamaica, the Order of Distinction (Commander and Officer ranks) and the Order of Excellence.
An advisory committee is appointed to investigate whether the person receiving the National Honour award is actually living or deceased. The committee reports to the prime minister who in turn advises the governor-general.