Minister of Culture and Social Rehabilitation Neletha Butterfield announced this morning [Sept 22] that Government has established a five member National Heroes Parliamentary Selection Committee who will review nominations for a National Hero and forward their recommendations to the Minister.
The following individuals will be serving on the Committee: Dame Jennifer Smith [Chairperson], PLP MP Alex Scott, PLP Senator Thaao Dill, PLP MP Ashfield DeVent and Independent MP Darius Tucker
As many locals are aware, Dame Lois Browne-Evans was designated as Bermuda’s first National Hero in 2008, and since then no other persons have been honoured, something which has been the subject of much discussion. Government said “It is our desire to select more deserving people to join the list of National Heroes in the future.”
National Heroes Day is celebrated each year on the third Monday in June.
UBP Senator Jeanne Atherden, Shadow Minister for Community and Cultural Affairs, commented about the selections saying “The PLP Government’s decision to appoint a heavily partisan committee to select Bermuda’s national heroes is a very disappointing.”
Senator Atherden continued on to say “We have said from the very beginning of this exercise that decisions on national heroes ought to be made by people chosen from the community, not for their politics but for their good judgment and, perhaps, their knowledge of history. “We believe the government would have best served the will of the people by turning the job over to the people. Instead, we have a committee of politicians representing one political party.
“Once again, the government is putting politics before policy, partisanship before country. It wants to control something that could be such a pure expression of community spirit. In that regard, we are concerned with the Government’s statement that the Cabinet may decide “not select a National hero in any given year.” When Bermuda has produced so many great people past and present, we wonder why this power is included, unless it is contemplated that nominees might not be favoured by the Cabinet.”
The closing period for submissions of nominations for a National Hero has been extended to the end of November 2010
Those interested can make submissions to the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, at # 81 Court Street in Hamilton; or visit their website at www.communityandculture.bm for more information. Any member of the public, including civil servants, can nominate an individual or group as a National Hero.
The Minister of Culture and Social Rehabilitation will review all nominations for National Hero received from the Committee. This list will be presented to the Cabinet; however, the Cabinet is not obligated to select a National Hero each year.
During the last quarter of each calendar year, (if not before) the Minister of Culture and Social Rehabilitation will publish a list of names of all persons nominated for National Hero during the year. If no nominations are received, and/or Cabinet decides not to select a National Hero in any given year, then no list will be published.
If a new National Hero has been selected, Cabinet will make a formal announcement of this at least three months prior to National Heroes’ Day. This early announcement will allow time to prepare for National Heroes Day ceremony.