A member of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is taking the party’s executive to task for failing to show up in their numbers at the funeral of former DLP parliamentarian Dr Erskine Simmons.
Dr Simmons died at age 82 at the Bayview Hospital, earlier this month, after suffering from an undisclosed illness.
Former St Michael South East MP Hamilton Lashley, also wants the DLP executive to say why, Dr Simmons, who also represented his riding from 1986 to 1991, and served in the Senate under the DLP from 1991 to 1994, was not given the honour to lie in state at party headquarters.
Lashley, who attended the funeral at the Holetown Methodist Church on Thursday, said he was shocked to look around the church and see only a few DLP members in attendance.
When Barbados TODAY contacted DLP President Verla DePeiza, she had no response to Lashley’s comments.
Lashley said: “I am vex with the Democratic Labour Party for not putting his body in the hallowed and sacred walls of our party’s headquarters where the general membership and the public of Barbados could view his body, rather than just at a funeral home.
And I believe that all Democratic Labour Party executive members should have been at the funeral yesterday too. I did not see any of the executive members.”
Lashley contended that Dr Simmons, who made a significant contribution to the nation in medicine, politics, renewable energy and Pan Africanism, deserved better from the party.
He said that all other former Members of Parliament, who gave yeoman service to the country, should be afforded an official funeral.
Lashley said: “Why wasn’t he given an official funeral by the Government? And what I think the Democratic Labour Party should have done too, is to have his body for viewing in the hallowed walls of the Democratic Labour Party headquarters. I do feel bad about these things.”
Calling for specific honours to be bestowed on Dr Simmons, Lashley said it was time to look beyond partisan political support and examine the contributions Dr Simmons and other political veterans have made to the country.
He said: “I believe that going forward, to honour the legacy of Dr Erskine Simmons that the Pine North-South road should be renamed after him and called the Dr Erskine Simmons Boulevard, just like how you got the Eastern Boulevard.
Persons who would have contributed to international and regional recognition as Dr Erskine Simmons should be recognised. I feel it is a bad thing that when members who have served this country at the highest level internationally and regionally that their work and their worth should be forgotten.”
Lashley is also calling on Parliament to make provisions for community practitioners to be recognised nationally for their contributions to national development.
He said: “Red Plastic Bag put it well in his song when he said that this nation wasn’t built by our leaders alone; so many heroes out there are unknown. That is the point.
“Dr Simmons wasn’t an unknown hero; he was a known hero that they are failing to recognise. There are so many out there that we are failing to recognise. People should be recognized for their work and worth.”
Dr Simmons, who embraced his African roots, played a role in the international effort in the late 1980s to free Nelson Mandela from prison.