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Members Parliament paid tribute to former People’s National Party (PNP) Minister of Agriculture, Public Utilities, Mining and Energy, and Water and Transport, Horace Clarke, on Tuesday July 13.
They described him as a dedicated politician, who served his constituencies (Northern, West Central and Central St. Mary), between 1972 and 2002, and his country, admirably.
Opposition Leader, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, recalled that Mr. Clarke was, apart from being a serious politician, “a very caring person.he was one who could move across the political divide…I think that his contribution to both governments, the parliament, to his people in St. Mary and the constituency he served, will always remember him fondly”.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, on behalf of his Ministry and farmers across the island, recognised Mr. Clarke for his contribution to the sector. He made special note of the importance of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to the agricultural sector, and the pivotal role Mr. Clarke played in its establishment.
“I want to just recognise him for his contribution particularly in the field of extension support,” Dr. Tufton said.
Mr. Clarke played a major role in helping small farmers in St Mary to acquire land to produce bananas and sugar cane.
In his tribute, Member of Parliament for Central St. Mary, Dr. Morais Guy, who succeeded Mr. Clarke in 2002, said his grassroots-type politics endeared him to the people of St. Mary, when he entered representational politics.
“His passion for the young people in the constituency and the parish is legendary. Horace was always concerned about the upliftment of young people, about social upward mobility and that was what spurred him to transform the ownership of land in the parish. His passion for education was also well noted..the people of St. Mary have lost a good son,” Mr. Guy remarked.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, noted that Mr. Clarke was strident in his political career, but never tribal.
“As a young person growing up in the political field through my father, I always admired him and his stance in terms of how he interacted inside and outside of the Parliament, so I share in the mourning and wish his wife and family well,” Mr. Vaz said.
Member of Parliament for North Western St. Andrew, Derrick Smith said he had an excellent social relationship with Mr. Clarke, whom he found to be decent and “served his country, his constituency, his parish.and his sudden departure is something that we should all mourn”.
Member of Parliament for East Central St. Andrew, Dr. Peter Phillips, lauded Mr. Clarke as a “giant of Jamaica”, who was committed to practical ways to improve the lives of the socially disadvantaged.
“(He) was an exceptional politician. I believe that he was also an exceptional minister and administrator.there are many monuments to his ministerial tenure, the Jamaica Maritime Institute, the Rural Electrification Programme, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, which was also his brainchild, and of course the improvement of secondary educational institution in St. Mary,” Dr. Phillips stated. He added that Mr. Clarke was a tough, but forgiving politician.
State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government Reform, Hon. Robert Montague, pointed out that a number of high schools in St. Mary have benefitted greatly from the service and contributions Mr. Clarke made to education.
“They still have the investment that were imparted, and the parish and people of St. Mary are with his widow Norma, and the rest of his family, and we can all from St. Mary say we have lost not a good Samaritan – but a good ‘St. Marian’,” Mr. Montague told the House.
Member of Parliament for South St. Andrew, Dr. Omar Davies, noted that Mr. Clarke’s dedication to the education sector “is something which distinguished him in my mind”.
Mr. Clarke, who would have turned 78 on July 17, died on Saturday, July 10, at the Andrew’s Memorial Hospital in Kingston, after suffering a stroke on July 2. In addition to over 30 years in public service, he has also left his mark on the country through several business ventures, the most recent of which was his contribution to tourism through his joint ownership of the Mystic Mountain Water Park attraction in St. Ann.