Portia, champion of the poor

Portia, champion of the poor

‘I have a responsibility to protect the legacy of Norman Manley, Michael Manley, PJ Patterson’

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 09, 2013

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ROSE HALL, St James — President of the ruling People's National Party (PNP) Portia Simpson Miller on the weekend vowed to remain champion of the poor and oppressed, despite harsh economic times.

Addressing hundreds of party faithfuls, Simpson Miller, who is also prime minister, said defence of the poor and oppressed was the platform on which her party was established 75 years ago. That legacy, she stressed, must be protected despite the harsh economic conditions.

"During this difficult period I will do everything that is possible to ensure that we protect the interest of the poor and the oppressed, because it has always been a part of the People's National Party's administration, and under my leadership it will be no less," Simpson-Miller told a Region Six banquet to mark the 75th anniversary at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Saturday night.

She urged the large gathering to uphold the founding principles of the party, which she said seeks to protect the poor, which constitutes the masses of the society.

In apparent response to critics who have pointed to a raft of social ills in her St Andrew South West constituency and economic hard times generally savaging the poor, Jamaica's

first woman prime minister said: "I have a responsibility to talk about the poor. At the formation of the People's National Party the masses of the people came in for special mention and Norman Washington Manley gave the party a responsibility...So I have a responsibility to protect the legacy of Norman Washington Manley, of Michael Manley and of PJ Patterson," declared Simpson Miller.

She urged PNP gathering to trumpet the many achievements of the 75-year-old party, saying: "It is us, the members of the People's National Party who must tell our story and carry the achievements of this noble party across the country. If we do not do it, no one else is going to do it."

She commended the almost 90 Comrades who received awards for their contribution to the party's Region Six which covers the parishes of St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.

"On this very special occasion, I am very happy to salute you for your contribution over the many years to the party. You are among those men and women who assisted to carry the work of the party in this region and around the island. We thank you for your love, your hard work and your sacrifice," Simpson Miller told the awardees.

Meanwhile, Vice-President of the PNP Derrick Kellier also thanked the awardees for "keeping the party strong and focused", over the years and described it as "the greatest political party in the Caribbean".

"Were there not a PNP over these 75 years can you imagine what kind of country we would have? Consider it for a moment, because everything that has happened that is progressive for the last 75 years in this country has been led by the People's National Party," remarked Kellier, who is also the minister of labour and social security member of parliament for South St James.

Saturday night's function formed part of the PNP's 75 Anniversary celebrations which are being held under the theme: "Honouring Our Past... A Powerful Foundation for Today and Tomorrow".

Among the awardees were former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke; former Speaker of the House Violet Neilson, former Tourism Minister Francis Tullouch, former Senator Janet Madden, attorney Fred Hamaty, and former members of parliament Arthur Nelson and James Thompson.

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