2016 is as good a year as any for Barbados to begin the process of removing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and replacing her with a Barbadian.
So says Government Minister Donville Inniss, who is calling on his own administration to turn its recent republican talk into concrete action.
“I am prepared as Member of Parliament of St James South to have that conversation with my people here in St James South. I intend to make it a constituency matter for me to hear the opinions of my constituents and just as important to share my perspective on it with them,” said Inniss, while calling for serious national discourse to begin this year on ending the current monarchial system of Government.
Last March, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart broached the touchy subject of removing the Queen as the country’s head, represented here by Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave. At the time, Stuart said he intended to complete the process of decolonization and to have the island referred to as the Republic of Barbados “in the very near future”.
Since then, nothing has been done to take the process forward.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY the outspoken Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development said he did not believe the island should be made to wait much longer, explaining that he had told both the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues as much.
“I am of the view that the next step has to be for Barbados to become a republic. I have made my position very clear to the Prime Minister and my colleagues. It is something I feel very strongly about. I am of the view that it has to happen sooner rather than later,” said Inniss, who is anxious to see the island take full charge of its own affairs.
“It is an issue that the country must have a conversation about. Both political parties have supported that over time – the [Opposition] Barbados Labour Party and the [ruling] Democratic Labour Party. When you reflect upon the manifestos and conversations among the political parties there is no doubt in my mind that both of us are of the view that Barbados should become a republic,” he added.
However, acknowledging that timing was an issue, Inniss said there would always be “a group in this society” who
would claim to be monarchist and did not want to change.
“But it is perhaps the same group that opposed free secondary education and the same group that opposed independence in 1966. While some of the names and pigmentation have changed, fundamentally it is the same group,” Inniss said.
“I don’t think it is a matter that has to divide a country.
We can all have respect for one another’s views without getting into any angry rant about the matter. But I am certainly of the view that Barbados needs to become a republic. It is the next logical step for us,” he stressed.
Inniss, who was born the same year the island gained political Independence from Britain, said it was about time a Barbadian was made head of state.
“I have heard all sorts of arguments put forward about loss of tourists and collapse of economy. These are just emotional [comments]s that have no substance whatever,” he charged.
“I mean no disrespect to the [British] Royal family. They have certainly offered a level of stability even in some of the most trying times of politics around the world and certainly in the Commonwealth,” he said, adding that even if the island becomes a republic it should remain a part of the Commonwealth.