Premier Lauds Court Victory
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, MBE, JP, has commented about the positive verdict that Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, Hon. Tara Rivers, received in Grand Court this afternoon (Friday, 9 August 2013) in a case challenging her election to the Legislative Assembly.
The Premier, who attended the delivery of the judgment by the Chief Justice the Hon. Anthony Smellie, QC, was also one of the first to congratulate Minister Rivers on the victory inside the packed courthouse.
Mr. McLaughlin's statement follows.
"I am absolutely elated about the verdict, and immensely relieved. The prospect of a by-election was worrying as it would prove disruptive to Government that is now settling in. I am delighted now that on Monday we can get back down to work without this hanging over our heads.
"We have a great deal of work ahead of us, not least of which is the budget, which we hope to present in the House, certainly by September.
"While the court case has been a source of distraction, Minister Rivers has really shown remarkable character in keeping her composure and getting on with her work in her ministry. As everyone knows now, particularly after the Chief Justice read her outstanding resume in the course of his judgment, Minister Rivers is an absolutely brilliant woman and she is a most able Minster."
"I have striven from the outset to have an inclusive government. I have always understood that the people of the Cayman Islands wanted something very different from what we had in the course of the past three administrations.
"Minister Rivers - as a woman, as a representative from West Bay and as one who is not a member of the Progressives Party, and her colleagues Councillors Winston Connolly and Roy McTaggart bring diversity, a different perspective and the inclusiveness that the country has called for in its government.
"A by-election with an unpredictable outcome would have been a disruption. While it would not have changed the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly and wouldn't fundamentally have changed the Government because we have a 13-5 majority, it certainly would significantly alter the make-up of our Cabinet and of the LA. Besides, we would have lost one of the brilliant minds on our team.
"So I am bit overwhelmed right now but absolutely delighted. I will sleep better tonight than I have in many months.
"This was a matter on which there was not a great deal of clarity. It was apparent in the Chief Justice's masterly analysis, as he went through all of the various cases, that the law on this has been all over the place, varying from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Our Constitution is unique in certain respects as was acknowledged also by the counsel for the petitioner this evening. I think for the first time, we have real clarity on the provision about passports, the issue of what qualifies as an 'educational establishment' for the purposes of the constitutional provision as well as residency.
"I join with the counsel at the bar who thanked the Chief Justice for a really outstanding piece of work that comprises such very careful analysis of issues which have been around for a long time but continue to lack clarity. I think we all ought to be grateful for the tremendous amount of time and effort that was obviously put in to making sure that these issues become clarified going forward."
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