By anguillian August 31, 2012 08:41



L-R: Rev. Dr. Clifton Niles, Mr. Sutcliffe Hodge and Bishop Errol Brooks

As Anguilla continues to experience a number of social and economic problems, a group of three members, called Citizens of National Unity and Progress, spoke to reporters about some of the matters of much concern to them.

The members – Sutcliffe Hodge; Bishop Errol Brooks of the Anglican Church; and Methodist Supernumerary Minister, Rev. Dr. Clifton Niles – met in their private capacity with representatives of the media at a press conference at the Anguilla Community College on Thursday, August 23.


“We are here in solidarity calling on politicians both in, and not in, government, to stop the political posturing and rhetoric at this time, and let us band together and find workable solutions to help our island recover from this recession/depression we are facing,” Hodge, an aspiring political leader, said.“The global economic recession, which is forecasted to worsen, is bearing down on us. We need to find ways for our people to recover and survive during this difficult period, and put this beautiful little island of Anguilla– that we love so very much–  on a path to sustainable development.”


He went on: “We need to find a way to work together in the best interest of all the people of Anguilla. The challenges that we are facing, in part, were brought on by financial and administrative mismanagement by the previous government and the current government. There is a lot of blame to go around. We now need to work together as Anguillians to find a way to dig ourselves out of this crisis we are in. We are calling for a truce, extending our hands to all politicians and community leaders to come together to focus on, and plan for, in good faith, a way forward for Anguilla.”


Mr. Hodge also spoke about what he said were the number of unemployed persons and under-nourished children inAnguillaand the need for young people to have hope and opportunity.


Bishop Brooks said that members of the Anguilla Christian Council (of which he is chairman), as well as the Evangelical Association, had been involved in a number of meetings. “We came up with various suggestions including finding ways and means of training our young people to make a positive contribution to the community,” he stated. “Among the things that we talked about was the possibility of having a national unit whereby our young people could be brought together from school level onward to be trained in various fields. Examples are masonry and carpentry, and we have been looking at different entities in a position to assist in financing such programmes. We are still working at it. The whole idea is to ensure that our young people have the tools and the acumen to make a contribution to the Anguillian society.”

The Bishop expressed the desire for persons involved in politics and commerce to come together to examine ways of working together for national development. “I know there have been calls for national unity in times past, but one doesn’t really see that happening… As a church, we have met with both sides of the political divide. We said we are available to assist, in whatever way we can, in terms of helping them with whatever programmes they have in mind. We were received in good faith but in moving on, that really hasn’t taken place.  We don’t want to set up a theocracy where the church is dictating policy…but I feel we can make a contribution to the cause. It is about national unity, about people working together for Anguilla. That’s the bottom line.”


In his opening statement, Rev. Niles said in part: “We meet to make a very strong call for national unity going forward. Whatever may have been the past, whoever may be responsible, we need to realise that is not important now. What is important now is how we fashion the way forward.” He stressed there was “a need to re-emphasise and remind adults of, and to inculcate in our children, those core values which made Anguilla at one time a country that was great.”


He called for a return to the core values of a strong religious heritage, good family life and community life. “As we go forward, I would like to appeal to politicians on both sides of the divide to considerAnguillafirst before they consider ‘party’. No political party should be considered greater than [any] or to take precedence overAnguillaas a whole. We need a new way of thinking. We need to come together because we have to determine our constitutional future.”

Rev. Niles, who was the recent chairman of a third Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission, went on: “For years now we have been working at modernising and updating the constitution. It has not yet been completed. A vision of national unity must be accompanied by the necessary constitutional arrangement to ensure that the nation can determine its own way forward.”


He also spoke about the need for a solid education for every Anguillian, and for the necessary steps and institutions to be put in place to achieve that goal. “This call for national unity is for us to think about a newAnguillaas we go forward, and for every Anguillian, particularly our political leaders, to work towards that.”


Rev. Niles expressed the view that one of the problems facing Anguilla, over the years, was due to the way the people on the island practised party politics. “An island, like Anguilla, is small and can be limited in terms of the human resources to get certain things going,” he added. “If we practise a type of politics where, because one party is in power, you have nothing to do with the other party, and you do not call upon the resources there, or the other party does not make its resources available, the island will not benefit from the pooling of the resources of both parties. The result is that we are going to suffer even more than we are suffering now. I appeal for national unity. Let us see if we can recapture this vision of a united Anguilla, moving forward democratically.”


The opening statements by the three-member group were followed by a number of questions and answers. National unity and the state of the island’s economy took centre stage.


By anguillian August 31, 2012 08:41


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