By Vernon Daley, Staff Reporter
Blair: Flags will not be permitted on public buildings and in public spaces. - File
BY FRIDAY, both major political parties are to remove their flags from public buildings and spaces in line with a recent ruling by Political Ombudsman, Bishop Herro Blair.
The parties made the commitment during a meeting with the Political Ombudsman yesterday. The meeting was the first in a series of weekly meetings that will be held between the parties during the run-up to the October 16 general election.
"We'll have a weekly meeting just to ensure that things are going right," Bishop Blair told The Gleaner yesterday.
He was reluctant to divulge details of the discussions. However, deputy general secretary of the governing People's National Party (PNP), Linton Walters, and justice spokesman for the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Delroy Chuck, revealed that the removal of the flags was one of the main discussion points.
"We agreed on the ruling of the flags and that the ruling should be enforced," Mr. Walters said.
Recently, the Political Ombudsman ruled that flags should not be banned as they play an "integral role in the body politic." He said, however, that they would not be permitted on public buildings and in public spaces.
Following his decision, the PNP's Region Three issued a release saying it would be complying with the ruling by supervising the removal of orange party flags from across the Corporate Area.
During yesterday's meeting, the parties also discussed the alleged stoning of buses carrying PNP supporters from a mass rally in Half-Way Tree on Sunday night. The police reported that buses were said to be stoned on their way to constituencies in Manchester and St. Thomas.
All of those involved in the meeting said the discussions were cordial and productive.
"We examined what had to be done to ensure that the campaign is fair... and hope that the parties will do everything to avoid any conflict," Mr. Chuck said.
Meanwhile, The Gleaner understands that Bishop Blair will today inform the Patriots, a PNP group, to retract a recent advertisement which claimed that former banker, Don Crawford, had contributed to the JLP's election campaign.
Last week, Bishop Blair ruled that the group should withdraw the claims but the Patriots subsequently submitted a tape interview to him, which it said substantiated its claims.
But according to a source, the Political Ombudsman was not convinced by the tape and will again ask the group for a retraction.