JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay and Chairman of the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, Michael Belnavis, says former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, was a “thoughtful, strong and fearless leader” whose stellar contribution to national progress spans several sectors.
  • In an interview with JIS News, Mayor Belnavis credited Mr. Seaga as being the driving force behind the development of the resort town of Ocho Rios.
  • “Ocho Rios was a small fishing village and he essentially made Ocho Rios into a great resort town and one of the major tourist destinations in the western hemisphere,” he said.

Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay and Chairman of the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, Michael Belnavis, says former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, was a “thoughtful, strong and fearless leader” whose stellar contribution to national progress spans several sectors.

In an interview with JIS News, Mayor Belnavis credited Mr. Seaga as being the driving force behind the development of the resort town of Ocho Rios.

“Ocho Rios was a small fishing village and he essentially made Ocho Rios into a great resort town and one of the major tourist destinations in the western hemisphere,” he said.

Mayor Belnavis said that Mr. Seaga influenced his decision to enter politics.

“The reason I am in politics is strictly attributed to him. When I first met him, I was moved by his compassion and his forthrightness. Quite frankly, Mr. Seaga was a meticulous man in everything that he did and that resonated with me,” he added.

Mayor Belnavis was among mourners paying respects at the St. John’s Anglican Church in Ocho Rios, St. Ann was on Friday (June 7), where Mr. Seaga’s body was lying in state.

Persons from all walks of life poured into the halls of the church to view the

flag-draped casket, while the honour guard stood watch.

Students from various institutions across the parish also turned out to honour the life and service of Mr. Seaga, who was Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister.

Minister of Transport and Mining, the Hon. Robert Montague; and Minister of Labour and Social Security, the Hon. Shahine Robinson, also joined members of the public in paying final respects.

In an interview with JIS News, Minister Robinson hailed Mr. Seaga for his “monumental contribution” to the development of the nation.

She said he played an integral role in her political career.

“He was like a father to me. In the 2001 by-election (in North East St. Ann), he made sure that I ate, he made sure that I slept, he made sure that I was in good spirits all the while. I don’t think I can ever repay him for what he did for me in that first by-election. Even though persons thought that I wouldn’t be able to win, because of his faith and his trust in me, I did the work that was necessary,” she said.

For his part, Minister Montague remembered Mr. Seaga for his good sense of humor and for the instrumental role he played in rural development.

“He did studies in Boxton, St. Catherine and from there he worked to develop rural communities,” he said.

“The festival movement, the hundred villages programme, the HEART Trust/NTA and the Self-Start Fund; these are things that speak to rural development and giving rural people a chance to shine,” Minister Montague noted.

One mourner, Shirley Blackford from North East St. Ann, related her fondness of Mr. Seaga, stating that his legacy as a great leader will live on.

“I am here to pay my last respects to a great man because I know that he was great from before he died and that he contributed a lot to Jamaica,” Mrs. Blackford told JIS News.