A visibly upset Mr Eustace may have a ‘do-over’ on his official send off as he prematurely retired from parliament under the mistaken belief that it was the final sitting before the next general elections.
Former Prime Minister Hon Arnhim Ulric Eustace have left parliament in a sombre mood as he is set to proceed on his retirement from active and representative politics.
Eustace who celebrated his 76th birthday on the 5th October received glowing tributes for his contribution to the socio-economic development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines including for his time spent as head of WIBDECO and his stint as Minister of Finance.
The East Kingstown Member of Parliament was first elected in 1998 and rose quickly through the ranks to become the political leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) following the early retirement of then Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell in 2000.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) suffered a landslide defeat in the subsequent March 28th, 2001 general elections under Mr Eustace’s leadership.
He remained Leader of the Opposition party until 2016 when he stepped down after four (4) successive general elections defeats.
However, Mr Eustace told parliament today that while he appreciated the kind words of his colleagues on both sides of the House, he was leaving with one regret.
“Mr Speaker, I’ve listened attentively to comments made by various members of this house in relation to my service to this parliament. I am pleased with the number of comments that were made and the nature of those comments.
“I have one regret about today Mr Speaker, in this what I believe possibly might be my last sitting in this parliament. Is that I wanted to have my family here today to hear this debate, but this was not to be because I understand my request in that regard was not acceptable.”
“While we struggle in this parliament from time to time, the point is that our families are the ones who bear the brunt of the difficulties that we face.”
“I cannot understand why we could not have an opportunity for my family and one and two of my supporters, about five people in all couldn’t be here today to listen to this presentation that we have had from members of parliament from both sides.”
“Its very important Mr Speaker. They suffer through all the difficulties that we may have and when we leave this place, we can at least give them the opportunity to be present at a time like this.”
“I am deeply disappointed in that Mr Speaker and that decision. They are the ones who bear the brunt of all that we face and I take strong objection to the fact that they are not allowed to come here, four or five people who represent my family and close supporters of the New Democratic Party in East Kingstown.”
Eustace who is suffering from some challenges relating to aging has served for twenty-two (22) years in the parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as the representative of East Kingstown. He spent the period 27th October 2000 to the 28th March 2001 as Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Speaker of the House, Hon Carlos James told members that the strangers’ gallery or the public seating area were removed as part of efforts to manage social distancing to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
He also indicated that this decision also affects members on the government side who will also be retiring from active politics at the final sitting of parliament.
Parliament was adjourned until the 12th November, 2020.