GG says no need to fight over republic issue

In a break with protocol, Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave today said there was no need to fight over Barbados going the route of a republic.

But the Head of State who usually shies away from speaking on political issues stopped short of saying whether he supported the planned move announced by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart last month.

Sir Elliott was addressing students at the Mount Tabor Primary School in St John during a ceremony in his honour when he added his voice to the debate on the island replacing the monarchy, which he represents as Governor General.

Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave

“Republican status for Barbados is not a difficult issue. The difficult issue for Barbados was to secure Independence . . . and that battle was fought and won nearly 48 years ago by the Right Excellent Errol Barrow. There is no fight ahead of us,” he said, adding that if Stuart succeeded in replacing Barbados’ monarchical system of Government with a republican system the major difference would be that the country would have a president as its ceremonial head, doing what the Governor General currently does.

“I don’t see any need for Barbadians to get excited and engage in any sort of warfare over the issue of republican Status. We will still have to buy food if we become a Republic, we still have to pay taxes, the country will be run by this Government or another Government chosen by the people of Barbados. There will still be elections, you will still have to work . . . ”

Sir Elliott noted that recently when a student asked his views on Barbados replacing the monarchy with a locally chosen president as Head of State had indicated it was a political issue and gave no answer at the time.

He said while he still holds that position, he also believes the matter is one that should be discussed.

In this regard, Sir Elliott said he was pleased with Minister of Education Ronald Jones for tackling the top at a constituency meeting on Sunday.

The Governor General suggested that some people did not understand what was meant by republican status and said that as far as he was concerned, there was no problem between Barbados and the British Government.

“It is a matter for us. So get that clear and let the people know that it is a matter for them to decide. There doesn’t need to be any fighting about it. All that has to be done is to discuss it and let those people who don’t know what it entails understand,” Sir Elliott said.

“That is the responsibility of the Government and I am sure they will do that shortly.”

The Governor General quipped that if Barbados eventually went that route, he could still keep his job.

“People seem to think that if Barbados becomes a republic that I will lose my job. That is not so. I wear my job at the pleasure of the Prime Minister and as long as I am able to do it and I don’t say foolishness or do foolishness, he wouldn’t fire me, I don’t think . . . And even if he did, what? Every good thing comes to an end,” Sir Elliott said.

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