Alleged ‘protocol officer’ resigns in flag controversy
Courtney Hume, the man politicians say was introduced as a protocol officer from the Office of the Prime Minister for the swearing in of the new Mayor of Montego Bay has resigned as a special assistant to a State Minister.
Yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) denied that Hume was employed in that section of the Government in either Kingston or Montego Bay.
In a statement this afternoon, Noel Arscott, the minister of Local Government confirmed the OPM report saying Hume worked for a State Minister in another ministry.
Arscott did not name the ministry, but The Gleaner/Power 106 News understands that Hume worked for Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, the junior minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce.
“Our investigations have revealed that his involvement in organizing the function, whether he instructed the decorator or not, was not authorized,” Arscott says.
“Mr. Hume’s resignation has been accepted by the relevant office with immediate
effect, and we thank him for his service.”
Hume is alleged to have instructed the decorator for the swearing in ceremony of the Montego Bay Mayor to abandon the use of green fabric on the backdrop for the stage which should have been a representation of the national flag.
READ: Flag controversy deepens
See full text of statement from Noel Arscott, Minister of Local Government
On behalf of the Government of Jamaica, I wish to express my unreserved and sincerest apologies to the Jamaican people for the inadvertent misuse of the colours of the Jamaican flag at the recent swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected Mayor of Montego Bay.
As Minister with responsibility for Local Government, the buck stops with me.
I wish to assure the Jamaican people that a full investigation is being carried out, and the chips will fall where they may.
Personally, I have been more than troubled by recent perceived disharmony resonant across some local Councils.
With regard to the St. James incident, my investigations thus far have revealed that errors may have been committed by a number of parties.
These could extend to the Municipal Service, the private contractor, and persons in the employ of the State on the recommendation of the political directorate.
Accordingly, I have requested that Parish Councils’ Services Commission investigates the role and responsibility of the Secretary Manager, and his staff in this matter.
Secondly, the Permanent Secretary in my Ministry will be instructing all Parish Councils that private contractors engaged by them, and public servants within the Councils, must be re-trained in the protocols relating to the appropriate use of our national symbols.
The training will be organized by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, and the Protocol Section in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
Finally, Mr. Courtney Hume, whom it is alleged to have instructed the decorator, was actually employed as a Special Assistant to a Minister of State in another Ministry. Our investigations have revealed that his involvement in organizing the function, whether he instructed the decorator or not, was not authorized.
Mr. Hume’s resignation has been accepted by the relevant office with immediate effect, and we thank him for his service.
It is heartening to know that Jamaicans still treasure our national symbols, especially during our 50th anniversary.
I wish to appeal to all Mayors and Secretary Managers of Parish Councils that valuable lessons must now be learnt from this unfortunate error in judgment as we move forward.
I therefore expect allegations of perceived ill-intent to be investigated, with serious consideration given to the concerns of all stakeholders.
If our Nation is to continue to mature as a political democracy, then all stakeholders must participate meaningfully in the making of decisions which affect Jamaican lives, property, and communities.
As elected servants, we are charged by all Jamaicans to defend their interests, and this Administration remains committed to the deepening of People Participation, Accountability, Transparency, and Good governance.
It is crucial that these essential pillars of economic growth and sustainable development are achieved primarily at the level of the community.
Noel Arscott, Minister of Local Government