Emotions ran high at the St. Ann Parish Church Hall in St. Ann’s Bay on Thursday (June 11) as hundreds of mourners from across the parish turned out to pay their respects to the late Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson.
Mrs. Robinson, who served as Member of Parliament for North East St. Ann, died on May 29 after a prolonged illness. She was 66 years old.
The casket, draped in the black, gold and green of the national flag, arrived on location at about 9:20 a.m. for public viewing, protected by Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) bearers.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Hon. Olivia Grange; Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councilor Michael Belnavis; Custos Rotulorum for St. Ann, Hon. Norma Walters and sister of the late Mrs. Robinson, Rosemarie Pilliner were among those who came to bid their farewell to the beloved daughter of St. Ann.
Long before the scheduled start of the viewing at 10:00 a.m., a number of persons had converged outside the grounds of the church hall.
Minister Grange, who was overcome with emotions while speaking with JIS News, described Mrs. Robinson as her “little sister”, noting that she served her country with passion and excellence.
She said Mrs. Robinson was loved by her constituents, owing to the unique style she brought to politics and her compassion.
“It is a great loss to the Government of Jamaica, a great loss to the country, a great loss to the constituency and for me personally. She was my friend, my little sister and so it is very painful this morning to be here to say goodbye,” she said.
“She served her country with all her heart. She was passionate about North East St. Ann and she has served this constituency with dedication and love. She will be hard to replace. She is irreplaceable in fact, because she came with her own unique style and compassion. We are celebrating her life while we mourn and so this morning, I had to be here,” Ms. Grange told JIS News.
A very sombre Mayor Belnavis said Mrs. Robinson was his “political inspiration” and lauded her commitment to good governance, her constituents and the Jamaican people.
“She has been a political icon in this area (North East St. Ann) and she has taken representation to another level, so much so that she won six elections. She never tasted defeat. She touched me in so many ways and she has been an inspiration to me and a political mentor. I believe that Shahine’s legacy will live on,” Mayor Belnavis said.
Councillor for the Lime Hall division in North East St. Ann, Genevor Gordon-Bailey, in reflecting on the life of Mrs. Robinson shared that the late Labour and Social Security Minister was a loyal and faithful Minister of Government and Member of Parliament.
Mrs. Gordon-Bailey said she shared a close relationship with Mrs. Robinson and was with her up to the time of her passing.
“My experience working with Mrs. Robinson was one of mentorship, guidance, love and growth. In many ways, my political path was molded and guided by her. I am deeply saddened and hurt to lose my Member of Parliament. We had a very close relationship so I knew what she was going through,” Mrs. Gordon-Bailey noted.
Custos Walters said Mrs. Robinson was steeped in high principles and represented her parish and nation both locally and internally with excellence.
“I know representation of excellence when I see it, and we are truly going to be missing our sister Shahine. She embraced all of us and she kept all of us together to be very proud of our parish. We are proud to have claimed her not only as a political representative but as a true daughter of the parish,” she said.
Meanwhile, 58-year-old Winnifred Henry-Williams of St. Ann’s Bay noted that Mrs. Robinson was “one of a kind” and will be irreplaceable.
“Mrs. Rob was a very good MP to us. She was a people person and you would never see Mrs. Rob upset. She just knows how to deal with us. She was beautiful from the outside in, and I don’t think she can be replaced,” Mrs. Henry-Williams shared.
Anthony Wilson of Top Road, hailed Mrs. Robinson as a very hard-working MP, who gave of herself “unselfishly” and served the people of North East St. Ann with humility and integrity.
“She was very a dedicated woman, who worked tirelessly. She is always there for you. She knows everyone by name. She is an amazing individual and we will always love her,” he said.
The period of mourning for Mrs. Robinson continues tomorrow with a second public viewing, which will be closed-casket, at the St. John’s Anglican Church Hall, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.