Letters to the Editor

Enid Bennett made a tremendous contribution to our democracy

Thursday, January 11, 2018

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Dear Editor,

In the cut and thrust of political rivalry we too often lose sight of people who have, in their own quiet way and unassuming demeanour, made a tremendous contribution to the vibrancy of our two-party democracy.

One such was Enid Maude Bennett, who moved smoothly from the position of councillor for the Sligoville Division to win her first national contest for the St Catherine Central constituency in the 1967 General Election.

She grew from strength to strength and, in 1997, she left the electoral scene as an outstanding and victorious Member of Parliament for St Catherine West Central.

She served as a minister of state in several ministries for many years and was deputy leader of the Jamaica Labour Party for nearly a decade. Her sincerity in the service to the people and her organisational skills accounted for her remarkable success.

But where Enid Bennett deserves to be specially remembered and highly commended is for her remarkable role in the legislative arm of government. She ranks among the most committed parliamentarians of our time. Her attendance record, diligent work on parliamentary committees and sharing with younger Members of the House the experience she had acquired were her hallmark. It is fitting that for her distinguished contribution she was conferred with Life Membership of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and honoured with the Order of Jamaica.

As a Member of Parliament, she acquired the art of gentle persuasion and pursued persistent appeals to the prime minister and ministers, regardless of political stripe, in her relentless campaign to advance the good and welfare of her faithful constituents. It was always difficult to resist her charming smile and deny her requests. She was a formidable champion for improvements in her constituency, which made her invincible despite adverse swings in the national pendulum.

The life and legacy of Enid Bennett should remind us that membership of different political parties is no cause for abuse or incivility, but good reason, as representatives of one people, we should always be searching to find common ground for building a better Jamaica.

I extend my deepest sympathy to her family, her former constituents and party colleagues as they mourn her loss.

May she enjoy eternal peace.

P J Patterson

Former Prime Minister of Jamaica

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