JUNCTION, St Elizabeth — Former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Member of Parliament (MP) for St Elizabeth South Eastern Cecil Roy July died at age 76 yesterday at the University Hospital of the West Indies after suffering from a brief illness.
July, a prominent attorney in St Elizabeth, was described by his friend and former campaign manager, Jeremy Palmer, as a strong MP and an outstanding member of the St Elizabeth bar.
“...He was responsible for the building of the Rose Hall Primary School. [Although] he served for three years, he was a very vigilant, strong MP in terms of his representation,” said Palmer.
“He was an outstanding member of the St Elizabeth bar and a very prominent attorney in the parish,” added Palmer.
July also served as parliamentary secretary in the then Ministry of Youth.
Palmer succeeded July as MP from 1983 to 1989 in the constituency.
Palmer, a former mayor of Black River and sitting councillor for the ruling JLP in the Pedro Plains Division, recalled the bloody 1980 election campaign, and said July was injured in a deadly political clash at Top Hill in the parish.
Several persons were killed on National Heroes' Day, mere days before the election, and there was further bloodshed in the St Elizabeth south-eastern community of Top Hill when JLP and People's National Party (PNP) supporters clashed.
July polled 7,801 votes to his opponent the PNP's Derrick Rochester's 5,781 votes.
“In the 1980 General Election July won by over 2,000 votes, but the seat was marked by a number of very violent incidents. Notably was the infamous Top Hill incident where two children were killed,” said Palmer.
July was severely injured in the incident.
“He was attacked by a mob and stoned. He lost five of his teeth and he was hospitalised for about four days,” said Palmer.
“A lot of people don't want to remember that Top Hill incident, but it was one of the bloodiest incidents of the election. Mr July was chased by a mob… He sought refuge in a house and the house was tear-gassed, fired upon. Two innocent children died, and another was injured. Mr July faced a lot of personal acts of violence against him in that election,” Palmer said.