Lady Allen and I are pleased to join you on this special occasion for the people of St James. Today belongs primarily to the fifty-five faithful 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!
I thank Custos Pitkin for the work he has been doing and the increase in the number of Justices of the Peace in the Parish of St James. He has also given 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 JPs who are being commissioned today, and their family, friends and well-wishers as well as the other JP’s in attendance,
I commend the JPs being installed, for their acceptance of this awesome responsibility plus accompanying responsibilities which also include their support for The Governor General’s Program for Excellence.
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 the recommendations from the Custos, does further vetting, then sends those names to The Governor-General for approval and the issuing of Instruments, after which they are sworn in by their Custos.
The JP owes fealty, loyalty and respect to the Custos, who is the First Citizen of the Parish and their 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 to 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 and receiving advice from Ministers.
- Appointing the Custos of each Parish.
- Appointing members of various Commissions, such as the Public Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Police Service Commission, and others.
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 – functions 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 commend the Honourable Custos and his team for the work which has been done to identify and train these men and women whom it is 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 Faithful Fifty-five, and I feel confident that they will live up to the expectations which the Custos and the citizens have of them. I am sure they will be:
- faithful in the execution of the duties,
- faithful in their support of the Custos, and,
- faithful in their loyalty and love to their country.
Candidates, the Custos and I are proud of each one 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. Today you are committing yourselves 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, 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 took for granted is now replaced in large measure by crassness and indiscipline.Our security is under threat with criminal activity taking place even within the Zones of Special Operations. Crime is no respector of location, and evil is not the preserve of the poor.
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.
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. I wish each one of you a peaceful and prosperous 2020 when it comes.