Address by The Governor-General His Excellency The Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen ON, GCMG, CD, KSt.J at the Commissioning of Justices of the Peace – Hanover

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2019 at 2;00 P.M.

Lady Allen and I greet you warmly, and we are very pleased to join you on this very special occasion for the people of Hanover. Today belongs primarily to the thirty-seven worthy citizens who are about to embark on a new phase in their lives. This phase involves bringing specialized services closer to the members of your community, enabling them to be on the right side of the law, and to reduce their costs of travel in the process.  CONGRATULATIONS!

After taking Office on February 26, 2009, the first Custos I installed was Dr. David Stair on May 7, 2009, right here in Lucea. After what I consider a challenging decade for him, I have returned today to express my appreciation to him for the work done, the steady growth in the number of Justices of the Peace in the Parish of Hanover, and the tremendous support for the programmes emanating from the Office of The Governor-General.

I am also pleased to accept his invitation to address this group of JP is being commissioned today, as well as the other JP’s in attendance, and your family, friends and well-wishers.

I have seen the steady growth in the Parish as a result of Custos Stair’s leadership, and I know it is with the dedicated support of the Justices of the Peace and a committed core of stakeholders who are keen to make Hanover a “place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.”

I commend the JPs for their acceptance of the concomitant responsibilities which includes their support for The Governor General’s Program for Excellence.

I will be the first person to tell you that the Custos leads a difficult process in searching for, evaluating, and recommending individuals to serve as JP’s. The Custos is the person charged by law to lead this process.  He or she may get recommendations from other JP’s, but with the help of the Parish Court Judge and the Superintendent of Police, they vet and recommend persons of  good character,  integrity,  and rectitude  who are respected in their communities.  The Minister receives, does further vetting, then sends those recommendations to The Governor-General for approval and the issuing of Instruments, after which you are  sworn in by your Custos.

The JP owes fealty, loyalty and respect to the Custos, who is the First Citizen of the Parish and your  leader.

In our democracy,  no one person is given absolute power, it is shared by many public officials, vested with authority, who  are required, before assuming office, to swear allegiance to Jamaica and take the Oath of Office.  Only then are they authorized to carry out their respective functions.  The  Governor-General issues these delegated  Public Officers with the requisite Instruments, which is their authority to function.

It is true that your Governor-General performs very important functions which include:

  • Approving new laws.
  • Approving the appointment of Government Officials such as Ministers.
  • Providing advice to Ministers.
  • Appointing members of various Commissions, such as the Public Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Police Service Commission, and others.
  • Appointing the Custos of each Parish.

When I appoint the Custos of the Parish, he or she is responsible to carry out the functions that fall under his or her remit – such as:

  • Matters emanating from The Governor-General’s Office.
  • Supporting and cooperating with the Officers of the Courts and the Officers of the Law, led by the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
  • Other civic and social activities as referenced in the Custos Rotulorum Act.

However, Ladies and Gentlemen, those of you who are in touch with your Custos will know that I enjoy nothing better than being at events such as this. Why? Because this is where the citizens of our country are demonstrating:

  • Their concern for one another.
  • Their willingness to give service.
  • A commitment to the principles which serve our nation well; and,
  • Their appreciation of the spirit of volunteerism.

I heartily commend the Honourable Custos and his team on the work which has been done to identify and train these men and women whom it will be our pleasure to appoint and add to the Roll of Justices of the Peace.

I also commend the candidates who will be commissioned because they have made a conscious decision to be involved in the strengthening of the social fabric of the community and the Parish.  I call them The Thoughtful Thirty-seven, and I feel confident that they will live up to the expectations which the Custos and the citizens have of them.  I note that once again, as is the case in many areas of our social development programmes, the Ladies outnumber the Gentlemen!

Candidates, let me express how proud we all are of you. We share in the good wishes and prayers which will lift you up and sustain you for as long as you hold the Commission and beyond. You are committing today to:

  • Function at a high ethical and professional standard.
  • To work pro bono for your community, and,
  • To support your Custos in the development of values and attitudes in the Parish.

If you cannot commit to these principles, it is not too late to withdraw rather than going forward and perjure yourself by actions which are adversarial to the principals which govern the Justices of the Peace.

Family members, friends of the candidates, Ladies and Gentlemen all, I invite you to use an occasion such as this to help preserve our confidence in the future of our country.

We live in an age when many of the conventions and behaviours of an earlier time are being overturned.  The civility which we used to take for granted is now under threat not only here but in many parts of the world.

I would never claim in these days that we enjoy the level of security which we desire.   Even here in this beautiful Parish, we are not immune.  Crime is no respecter of location, and evil is not the preserve of the poor.   Indeed, some of the least financially prosperous of our citizens are often models of resourcefulness, good financial management, and preparedness to school their children and save for the proverbial rainy day.

The reality is that much depends on our outlook on life.

  • If we make the education of our children a priority.
  • If we live by the trusted values of respect for self and others.
  • If we follow the Biblical advice to “do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God,” then there is every reason to approach our collective future with confidence.

There is even more reason to be confident if we take the time and make the effort to read about our own inspirational figures of the past and present.  While it is true that we are influenced by what is caught even more than what is taught, there is value in learning from the life lessons of those whose stories have captured our imagination.  Remember:

Lives of great men all remind us

              We can make our lives sublime,

              And departing, leave behind us

              Footprints on the sands of time”

Please leave large and distinct footprints for those coming behind you to see the way clearly. I trust we will all go forth from this special day of commissioning as men and women passionate about our possibilities for building a sustainable future.

Thank you.