Delivering his inaugural address, following his installation as Prime Minister at King’s House on Sunday (Oct. 23), Mr. Holness stated that “Jamaica is yearning for a new (type of) politics to emerge”.
He noted the challenges and restrictions some persons in these communities experience in freely exercising their franchise via the ballot, noting that movement and speech are also limited.
“Zones of political exclusion are incompatible with freedom, and aspects of our politics are an affront to liberty. It is time to end garrison politics,” he declared to rapturous applause from the approximately 4,000 guests attending the ceremony.
Mr. Holness was, however, quick to point out that this undertaking will not happen overnight, nor should it happen by force. Rather, that there should be consensus on how it will be pursued.
“Both political parties have it within them to mutually agree to end the social construct of the garrison. Outside of a national consensus, the Parliament can pass and enforce specific laws to ensure and protect the free movement and campaigning of political representatives in opposing garrison communities. The Parliament can also provide sanctions for breaches of the Political Code of Conduct, to which both parties have already signed,” he stated.
The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of residents in garrison communities being afforded the opportunity of seeing their political representatives without the objection of enforcers.
“It is not only that the rest of Jamaica is locked out of these communities. I am concerned that the residents of these closed communities are locked off from the rest of Jamaica,” he lamented.
Persons, so isolated, Mr. Holness argued, may be unable to readily access services from the state that other citizens enjoy, and are often left to “survive by their own devices”. Additionally, he said they do not necessarily share the national outlook on key issues such as crime.
“We must seek to integrate all our citizens into the Jamaican society; they must share a common vision. We must guarantee them equal treatment and respect from the state and they, too, will be emboldened to support our national stance against crime, corruption, and injustice,” he underscored.
The Prime Minister said criminals must never be regarded as community protectors, adding that once there is a shared national vision, garrisons will no longer be havens for the unscrupulous.
“Let us start the process of getting the leaders to walk together in these areas of exclusion. I am willing to walk with the Leader of the Opposition in Tower Hill (in his West Central St. Andrew constituency), and I may just turn up in Whitfield Town (in Mrs. Simpson Miller’s South West St. Andrew constituency). Hopefully, this small step will lead to other steps that will eventually remove garrisons from our political landscape,” Mr. Holness said.