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Speech

Preserving things Caymanian and Improving the lot of his Caymanian people is what many Caymanians will remember of John Mclean the statesman and political dynamo.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin

Published 10th September 2019, 5:37pm

We are here today to pay tribute to a man who served his country, community and family well, John Bonwell McLean Sr., OBE, JP.

The British politician and political thinker Edmund Burke stated that “a disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman”.

Such a statesman was John B. McLean. Preserving things Caymanian and Improving the lot of his Caymanian people is what many Caymanians will remember of John Mclean the statesman and political dynamo. But they will also remember John Mclean the man with the easy smile and the endearing manner.

John served these Cayman Islands with distinction for almost 25 years. He was elected at the young age of 26 in 1976 by the people of his beloved East End community. Though youthful in years, he quickly learned the ways of politics and of Government. Before leaving office in 2000 he had not only made his mark as a political ‘heavyweight’ but also played an important role in the development of our Islands and his district.

In his community he was instrumental in the building of the William Allen McLaughlin Civic Center in East End proper and the Elliott Connolly Civic Centre in Gun Bay - both of which continue to serve the people in the district well, even functioning as hurricane shelters when necessary. He was also responsible for the construction of the Lillith McLaughlin health clinic, the post office, the police station, the Wreck of the Ten Sail park and more.

On the national level he was instrumental in the development of critical services such as the 911 emergency communications system and the Water Authority. Indeed, Mr. McLean worked to ensure that important ground water sources, such as the East End fresh groundwater lens, were protected.

Many of you will know that on my father’s side my roots are buried deep in the East End land. So I and countless other Caymanians appreciate the work that John did to protect our precious fresh water lens and indeed his tireless efforts to promote local farming and assist local farmers. And I also personally respect and appreciate the work he did for the people of East End.

Indeed John Mclean was completely devoted to the East End community. That devotion to not only East End, but the wider Cayman Community was recognised in 1995 when Mr. McLean was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen for his service to his community and to our Cayman Islands.

During his tenure he served three terms as a Government minister with responsibilities for Agriculture, Lands, Natural Resources, Communications, Environment and Works and completed six consecutive terms as an elected member. Six terms is a lifetime in politics and is a testament to the affection of his people as well as to the way he capably represented them at home and abroad.

He served on the Executive Council, which is now called Cabinet, and advocated for and indeed accomplished development throughout our Islands.

During his time as the Minister for Works several main roads were built, including the Queens Highway, the High Rock in-land road, and multiple farm roads. The first phase of the Harquail Bypass was completed, helping reduce traffic congestion for drivers travelling to and from the western end of Grand Cayman.

John McLean Drive, the road that bears his name, once known as “Up on the Hill”, was built in 1977 and members of the community requested the road be renamed in Mr. McLean’s honour. That road has been important in providing East Enders with easy access to the inner land and to higher ground in emergencies.

Also in East End he was instrumental in bringing telephone service, helped get three new boat launch sites, brought in street lights and secured property for the Heritage Field and the George Dixon Park for a football field and the Donovan Rankine Football Field next to the East End Civic Centre, which was opened by the great Pele from Brazil.

We also have him to thank for his role as a member of Government for help in securing the purchases of the Cayman Turtle Farm, the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park and Colliers Public Beach as well as the establishment of the Stacy Watler Pavilion.

Mr. McLean was an avid farmer, being recognised many times during various Agricultural shows and the importation of pedigree cattle such as Black Angus and goats such as Nubian to the Islands as Minister for Agriculture.

Our beloved Isles owe him much for his service to the Cayman Islands.

He was a true Caymanian and statesman and will be sorely missed.

May his soul rest in peace.