Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, says he meant no disrespect when he retrieved from the obelisk in Dorsetshire Hill last week steel frames from wreath laid four days earlier on National Hero’s Day.
Leacock’s action came to the attention of the nation Tuesday when Sen. Julian Francis of the ruling Unity Labour Party mentioned it on his radio programme.
Francis said he was reliably informed that Leacock had removed the wreaths.
Leacock told I-Witness News on Wednesday that he went to the obelisk last week at the request of his wife, who does floral arrangements.
“My wife makes wreaths for a number of the people within the society — don’t want to name the agencies. And it’s a bit of work doing the steel frame around them. So when the wreaths are completed and discarded, if she could recover the steel frame, it saves her time and effort the next time she has to make the items,” Leacock said.
He said that while one of the steel frames might have still been inside the monument, the other three were down a little embankment.
“So you go down there among the garbage, as it were, where they had already discarded some of the things, take them out, just beat them off against the steel fence and put them in a garbage bag and bring them to her so that she can get the steel frame from it,” said Leacock, an opposition lawmaker.
He said the wreaths were made of natural flowers and had already wilted went he retrieved the steel frames.
Asked if he saw anything wrong with his actions, Leacock said:
“If he (Francis) sees it so and if you see it so or if anybody else sees it that it is a public disrespect, certainly that was not my intention. I just went at the request of my wife to see if I could recover the steel frames from the wreaths,” he said.
He said the fresh flowers wreaths were already thrown out of the obelisk into the steel perimeter of what seems to be a garden for the primary school nearby.
“[I am] the last person they would want to call and challenge about desecration or whatever…” Leacock said.
“What Francis and them should do is find themselves at the obelisk on the day of National Hero’s Day and give reverence to him (National Hero Joseph Chatoyer).
“At least I can say for the 14 years I have been there consistently every single year without missing,” said Leacock, who has criticise MPs, including opposition lawmakers and Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, for not attending the wreath-laying ceremony on Hero’s Day.
“Haven’t you heard me go to Parliament and criticise my own leader on that? And have you not heard me go beyond that and say they also should go to Poppy Day (Remembrance Day)? … I consistently make that case.
“We can’t build the social fabric of our society without attending and respecting the things that are significant to us. And it doesn’t matter to me what side of the political fence you are on. It’s the way you build a nation state,” Leacock said, adding that Francis was making a “mountain out of a molehill”.