Wednesday 20 June, 2018

Derrick Smith quitting representational politics

Derrick Smith... bowing out after almost 30 years in the House of Representatives.

Derrick Smith... bowing out after almost 30 years in the House of Representatives.

Cabinet minister, Derrick Smith, is set to step down as the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) parliamentary representative for the St Andrew North Western constituency.

With almost 30 years in the House of Parliament, it was an emotional farewell for him as he revealed his decision to his constituency executive on Thursday, which his son and likely successor, Duane, expressed on Twitter a day later.

"Thirty eight years as parliamentarian and 29 serving the people of St Andrew North-Western. You have given service over self, and I am proud to have shared in this journey with you. I sat there as you announced that last night (Thursday) would be your final Exec(utive) meeting emotional and proud," young Smith wrote.

Former Cabinet minister, Clive Mullings, also chimed in with a salute to Smith: 

"Derrick Smith has served his country and constituents well. It was a honour serving as a Cabinet colleague with him. A devoted family man with a distinguished bearing and wise counsel. Well done, Derrick, and thank you," Mullings also tweeted.   

Smith, 74, has been battling illness, including diabetes, for some time, resulting in his sparse attendance at House sittings over recent times.

His role as Leader of Government Business in the Lower House has been undertaken by South West St Catherine Member of Parliament, Everald Warmington.

Smith's resignation will mean the holding of a by-election in the constituency in the near future.

As for his ministerial duties, it is not clear what will be done by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, as since the Administration took office in 2016, it was never clear what specific responsibilities were being handled by Smith as Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister.

However, he was a steady influence on the floor of Parliament, who earned the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the political divide.

Smith’s health issues came into broad public spotlight last year when the Opposition People’s National Party’s (PNP) leader, Dr Peter Phillips, made reference to ‘sickness’ among the JLP’s slate of MPs, on a political platform. The statement, which was taken as a direct reference to Smith’s situation, was broadly condemned in the public sphere, and Dr Phillips later apologised to Smith’s family for any insensitivity which was drawn from the statement, which he said had not been intended by him.

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