Jamaica Conference Centre to host Parliament's swearing in today

Jamaica Conference Centre to host Parliament's swearing in today

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

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FOR the second time in its recent history, the Parliament of Jamaica will meet today at Jamaica Conference Centre (JCC) in downtown Kingston instead of at Gordon House, Duke Street.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is expected to lead 46 Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Members of Parliament (MPs) and 13 senators into the temporary location, while leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips should be leading 12 successful MPs along with eight senators.

This is due to the fact that there are three seats still undeclared — Westmoreland Eastern, Clarendon North Western and St Ann South Eastern — where magisterial recounts are currently taking place.

The Westmoreland seat should be declared later today as only 10 boxes were left to be counted last night, with the JLP's Daniel Lawrence leading the People's National Party's (PNP) Luther Buchanan by close to 300 votes.

However, despite these setbacks, supporters of the two main political parties are expected to turn up at the conference centre, located at the southern end of Duke Street, downtown Kingston, to cheer on their representatives.

The decision to move the opening from Gordon House was due to the lack of seating space at that location, as it is unable to accommodate the Government's large numbers under the social distancing protocol of six feet apart, instituted by the current Adminstration. The members are also expected to wear their masks and sanitise their hands as much as possible.

It is, however, not the first time that Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the JLP veterans, who still sit with him in Parliament, will be attending meetings of the House of Representatives at the conference centre, which was built in the 1980s to accommodate the staff and meetings of the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

In August 2011 the then 39-year-old Holness, who was minister of education in the Bruce Golding-led JLP Administration, had to deliver his heavily reduced budget presentation from Conference Room 5 at the centre, while repairs were done to the roof of Gordon House.

The repairs started in August that year and were expected to last for six weeks, but were delayed to December following the discovery of asbestos pipes in the building.

However, 2011 turned out to be a very interesting year for Holness, as by October he was elevated to replace Golding as prime minister and leader of the JLP, although by the end of December he had lost the general election and ended up as the Opposition leader.

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