March 27, 2014

A very Good Afternoon and warm greetings to you all!

This afternoon, Lady Allen and I are pleased to be here for the installation of the Honourable Beryl Rochester as the first female Custos Rotulorum for the parish of St. Elizabeth.

St. Elizabeth is very special to all of us for several reasons, including:

  • It best illustrates our motto “Out Of Many, One People”, based on the diversity of ethnic origins of the people of St. Elizabeth. In fact, this is believed to be one of the few parishes with people of Taino descent.
  • It is the home of world famous tourist attractions and heritage sites;
  • It is the place where we have hard working farmers have earned it pride of place in our economy and is also known as the “bread basket parish”.


Ladies and gentlemen,

While the large majority of Jamaicans are doing their best to build this country through their hard work and honest, enterprising approach, unfortunatelythere are others  in our midst:

  • who seem bent on destroying our homeland,
  • who have no qualms about wrecking the prospects of honest people, snuffing out the lives of our people, including innocent infants and children.


So we, the law abiding citizens, we all are here, should not remain so fearful that we even refrain from reporting crimes or giving the Police useful information.This could prevent crimes, or bring criminals to justice.Each of us should be willing to do whatever we can, within in our power, to reverse the tide of crime in our homeland.

Last month, the Most Honourable Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition joined me in making an unprecedented appeal to all residents of this country. You would have heard or read our Joint Statement for this Lenten period to be used as a time of reflection and prayer for Jamaica, so we can come together, under God, and beat back this scourge of crime.

Let us, ladies and gentlemen, use all the channels available and commit to being examples of:

  • honesty,
  • integrity,
  • justice,
  • good neighbourliness,
  • respect for self and others,
  • tolerance of each other’s views, and
  • making the right choices in life.


Because we must always remember that, as parents and adults, we must remember that “children live what they learn” from us.I want to emphasize that you, our Custodes and Justices of the Peace, must always give leadership at the community and parish levels to secure peace and tranquility across Jamaica. This is totally in sync with the duties of the Custos which goes as far back as 1391, when King Richard ll issued the Grand Commission appointing Custodes and Justices of the Peace to ‘assist in maintaining law and order in the counties’.

Although the role has evolved over centuries, you, Custodes as Chief Magistrates and Justices of the Peace as Lay Magistrates, are still required to assist in keeping law and order, discipline and peace in your respective parishes. This commitment was made when you took the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office.And, as you have discovered, there are opportunities for promoting justice and peace abound not only in Petty Sessions of the Court, but also in your communities.

Therefore you should always be visibly active in diffusing tensions and conflicts in your communities.Through your support for and promotion of values-based programmes such as the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence, you will also sow the seeds of peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen, at the Annual Custodes Luncheon which we held at King’s House in February, we had an opportunity to commend the outgoing Custos, the Honourable Wilfred Nembhard, for his dedicated service to the people of St. Elizabeth.

Today, on his home turf, I want to publicly express my appreciation for him. Mr. Nembhard served to the best of his ability and in the best interest of the parish of St. Elizabeth. My staff and I enjoyed dealing with you. Your constant affability and courteousness, your on-time responses and your willingness to go the extra mile in support of the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards programme and the “I Believe Initiative” endeared you to all of us.

I wish for you and your family God’s peace and His richest blessings.

I would also like to thank  Dr. Lynden Rose who acted as Custos until Mrs. Rochester was sworn-in. We appreciate your service, Dr. Rose.

Custos Rochester, as the first citizen of the parish of St. Elizabeth, you now lead the charge to motivate all residents and friends, including in the Diaspora, to participate in the growth and development of the parish.  I know you have already embraced this challenge.You have the resources available to you in the people, namely your Justices of the Peace, public and private sector entities, service clubs, pastors, teachers, farming and fishing communities and youth groups, among others.

The people of St. Elizabeth will look to you for leadership and guidance, justice and fair play, and I am confident that you will not disappoint them. Please be assured of my support as well as that of the staff at King’s House in your service as my representative in this parish. I want to wish you all the best and a successful tenure.

I now invite you, Custos Rochester, to receive the Grand Commission and the Magistrates’ Roll.