Kelly: Sad to see PNP VPs go, but they will have roles to playSunday, July 25, 2021
BY HG HELPS
At 40, Eugene Kelly will become the youngest vice-president among the four nominated in the Opposition People's National Party when he is ratified at the organisation's annual conference in September.
The councillor for the Whitfield Town Division in the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation will join Ian Hayles, fellow councillor Norman Scott, and Richard Azan as vice-presidents, after they were duly nominated recently, filling the slots available.
But the circumstances under which the four got their approval has left the PNP with an additional headache in trying to achieve an manageable amount of unity. Incumbent vice-presidents Damion Crawford, Phillip Paulwell, Dr K Wykeham McNeill, and Mikael Phillips resigned en bloc, even after Phillips was already nominated to contest another term.
Kelly, a grandson of former Member of the House of Representatives in St Andrew Eastern and former mayor of Kingston, Dr Edward Fagan who defeated Norman Manley in the first general election held in 1944, and after whom Fagan Avenue in the Grant's Pen area of St Andrew is named, believes that the resignation by the men will not mean that they will simply throw their arms down, but they will continue to work in the interest of the party.
“I look forward to working with all my comrades. The comrades who would have resigned, first of all Damion Crawford remains an excellent member of the PNP — he has a tremendous and bright future ahead. He gave me my first class to teach after I got my degree in marketing, so I appreciate him.
“Comrade Paulwell placed me on my first government board — Rural Electrification Programme; Comrade McNeill, I worked with him when Portia [Simpson Miller] was at Ministry of Tourism. I was secretary to his task force when we went into Opposition. He took me across Jamaica, across the tourism industry and let me know some of the key hotel stakeholders, and the craft vendors, so he is someone who played a part in my development. There is no ill will from me and I will continue to work with them to build the party.
“The Saturday after they resigned, Mikael was guest speaker at Dela Vega divisions conference, so these comrades are still a part of the system. The role that Mikael played in unifying the party after the victory of comrade Golding cannot be overstated. If it (VP race) had gone down to a contest, I believe Mikael Phillips would have been number one. We are still looking to ensure that they are part of the team, and I will be on the ground working, working, working to make sure the PNP becomes successful,” Kelly said in the interview with the Jamaica Observer towards the end of last week.
What does he think of happenings in the party now?
“I long for us to understand one simple thing, and it is that the PNP is bigger than us. Once you truly believe that, we can put aside the issues we have. When I supported Mr Bunting (PNP presidential race in 2019) and he lost, within a week I was promoting (victor) Dr (Peter) Phillips on my social media, like my Whatsapp status, and it wasn't hard for me because I understand what the PNP needs. I understand its constitution, I understand that once the delegates have spoken, you move on, and rally behind the leader. That is the PNP I know. The PNP tradition I grew up in is about service to Jamaica through party,” Kelly said.
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