The funeral of John Horne at St. George’s Cathedral in Kingstown, last Friday. (iWN photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves did not attend the funeral, last Friday, of former Member of Parliament for West Kingstown, John Horne over fears that he would have been booed, as had been done in July 2014 at the funeral of Elwardo “E.G.” Lynch, another New Democratic Party member.

He told Parliament on Thursday that he made the decision after the female host of a programme on NICE Radio last Friday afternoon, sought “to agitate persons to look out for me at John Horne’s funeral and to give me the treatment which was meted out to me at my friend Elwardo Lynch’s funeral”.

In July 2014, in Georgetown, mourners booed, jeered, and rang bells for almost 10 minutes as Gonsalves was called to deliver a tribute to his one-time friend, who became one of his staunchest political critics.

The jeering prevented the prime minister from delivering his tribute at the funeral and he later left and read it on his Unity Labour Party’s radio station, Star FM.

The prime Minister said that he did not attend Horne’s funeral although he had chosen to remain in St. Vincent and have Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves represent him at a very important meeting on security in Trinidad and Tobago so that he could pay his last respects to the fallen politician.

“Mr. Speaker, I regret that I did not attend the funeral. Of course, I made my tribute ion radio,” Gonsalves said toward the end of a tribute to Horne during the obituaries section of Thursday’s meeting of the national assembly.

He said he expressed condolences to Horne’s widow and daughters via the phone when they had met with the Cabinet Secretary and the team assembled for the official funeral.

Gonsalves was in Trinidad attending a meeting at the time.

Former Member of Parliament for West Kingstown, the late John Horne. (iWN file photo)

“And on that day, on that Friday for his funeral, there was a meeting also in Trinidad, subsequently to the original meeting I was talking about, a prime ministerial meeting, a special one on security; a very important meeting.

“I agonised over it because I have my obligation to the living but I have to pay respects to those and for someone like John Horne.

“I finally decided that I will stay at home and I asked the Minister of Finance to represent me at this meeting in Trinidad so I could come both to the viewing here in the Parliament and to go to the funeral service at the Anglican cathedral.”

Gonsalves, however, said that just after 1 p.m. last Friday, the head of security at the Office of the Prime Minister that day informed me that on a programme at that time on Nice Radio, “the hostess, it was a woman, was seeking to agitate persons to look out for me at John Horne’s funeral and to give me the treatment which was meted out to me at my friend Elwardo Lynch’s funeral”.

Margaret London, an NDP activist, was the host of the NDP’s New Time programme on NICE Radio around the time that the prime minister mentioned.

Gonsalves said:

“Well, I didn’t — you know those things about what people shout at me and say, those things don’t mean anything to me but out of a deep respect for the family and for the deceased himself, I decided to stay away. I didn’t want in any way for a handful of people, so agitated, to sully this solemn ceremony. So I want to put that on record…”

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

The prime minister said he has spoken to a few senior members in the NDP about the development.

“… and they themselves indicated that they had heard it. In fact, there is one person who he and another member coming to the funeral heard it and commented whilst they were driving and said why is this being done and that it was wholly wrong. I am talking about what was happening on the radio.

“Because if one notices that today we are all at one with John. And, Mr. Speaker, very interesting, the family of Yvonne Francis Gibson had requested that I speak at her funeral, in the same way the family of Elwardo Lynch had requested that I speak at his funeral. And I knew John Horne for a longer time than I knew Yvonne Francis-Gibson.”

Yvonne Francis-Gibson, another MP under the NDP administration died and was buried in July 2018.

Gonsalves was among lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including former leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, who paid tribute to Horne during Thursday’s meeting of Parliament.

Eustace also spoke at the funeral last Friday.  

Horne died on April 22 at the age of 76.

He was being treated for prostate cancer and other complications.

Horne represented West Kingstown from 1984 to 2001, when he lost to Rene Baptiste of the Unity Labour party, which swept to office, ending the NDP’s 17-year management of the nation’s affairs.

During his time as a Member of Parliament, Horne served as a cabinet minister, with responsibilities for education, culture, and trade under then prime minister, Sir James Mitchell.

18 replies on “Fears of booing kept PM from John Horne’s funeral”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    Margaret London, Kay Bacchus Baptiste, and St. Clair Leacock are collectively sinking the rickety NDP ship with their crazy antics and statements.

  2. Elma Gabriel says:

    The John Horne we all knew and admire would welcome ever one with open arms and a giant smile at his funeral. He understands the importance of forgiveness especially associated to politics. Real Leaders understands the road to success is about moving on to the next step. John knew his role and so he has moved on with peace.
    Protestors have their purposes, the freedom of taking her/his stance. However, let us remember that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:”

    1. Maybe so, but I am very much in support of those who caused trouble during the Lynch funeral. The Prime Minister must have known his going there and giving a speech was an insult and provocation. Many believe Gonsalves is the main cause of Lynch’s poor health and eventual death. To those protesters they had the attitude that it is imperative that they caste Satin out of the House of God.The Prime Minister would have been fine if he just went to the funeral although many would have also seen that as disrespect and not respect. He could have gone to Horne’s funeral and sat in the back row, staying humble instead of using his usual boastful (Donald Trumpish) ways.

  3. This article by Kenton Chance is so misleading. Is it fears of booing that kept the PM away or he didn’t want the same nasty behavior to occur as at E.G. Lynch funeral out of respect for the Horne family. You purposely have a misleading headline to detract readers from the actual issue here which is the womans low behavior and thw lack of leadership by NDP to standup against that kind rhetoric.

    1. Camie, What are you talking about? The title is very accurate. Do you call the Prime Minister’s presence at the Lynch Funeral leadership? We all have an opinion and I do not agree with yours. The Prime Minister made a good choice not to show up at this funeral especially after his grandstanding at the Lynch Funeral. He is possibly a major cause of the poor health and death of that man. In my opinion Gonsalves act at Lynch’s Funeral was a provocation. I am so happy that those good people protested! Gonsalves should not be allowed in any Christian church. Sorry but I do not like leaders that love to deceive the populace on purpose for thier own wealth, comfort and power. He has driven this country into the gutter with borrowing money that generations will have to pay back and making sure that no jobs are created. He hated Lynch and had the audacity to grandstand at his funeral and cry crocodile tears for sympathy and votes. Satan himself could not have made a better plan.
      There are times when Gonsalves shows good leadership, it is just that the NDP (Godwin Friday) has much better leadership: better economics, more compassion and desire to unify the country and not divide it for personal gain.

      1. Jamal your perception of the truth and accusations has no value to the fact the Prime Minister was invited to the funeral by the family members of the Lynch family. The second thing whether or not we for or against a Prime Minister respect is due.

        To be politically bias does not give any individual the right to be disrespectful to the Prime Minister or any leader for that matter. The Prime Minister was invited by the family members therefore what right does the woman on the radio have to tell people to go and give the PM the same treatment that happen at Lynch funeral. Why have you not come out and tell the woman she is wrong and disrespectful to Mr Horne family to use the funeral as a protest against the PM.

        This article headlined is misleading because the PM did not stay away because he afraid of their plans and booing but he showed respect for the Horne family and stay away to avoid the NDP dragonauts from disrupting the funeral. The NDP leadership did not even come out and rebuke this kind of rhetoric from its member.

        What the PM did was humble and honorable and the article headline should have reflected the truth of his actions.

  4. Agustus Carr says:

    An elected Prime Minister of any country must be treated with dignity and respect whether persons like him or not. More importantly, a dead person must be treated with the highest degree of honor and respect. We must never desecrate or dishonor the dead.

    The NDP and it’s pundits have dishonor the man I considered to be the most descent and respectable politician in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the honorable John Horne. A man who I see as and iconic politician for his work in Education.

    When political advocates and politician instigate these types of behaviors it tells me they lack civility and common sense. How can any Vincentian support such childish behaviors? What type of image are we portraying to the Region and the rest of the world when we support this type of conduct? What does this say about we as a people and our civility?

    It’s natural for persons to disagree with the policies and practices of a Prime Minister but this does not mean you should instigate persons to dishonor his Office. I am sure the Horne family would have loved to have the Prime Minister at the Honorable John Horne’’s funeral Irrespective of their political persuasion. I am sure they felt a sense of betrayal by the NDP.

    If this is what the future leadership of SVG looks like, I will prefer to vote the Green Party because I am sure Ivan O’ Neil would have discourage and vehemently oppose such behaviors. I have no reason to believe this article is inaccurate or untrue or the author has any other motives but to reveal the facts to his readers and the Vincentian people.

    May the Most Honorable John Horne Rest In Peace and Rise in Glory. My deepest sympathy goes out to the Horne family in this time of bereavement.

    1. Augustus, I agree that the dead should be honoured. Even the evil John Mc Cain deserved some respect. However, it was the ultimate insult for the PM to show up at Lynch funeral. It was clearly certainly a provocation and a way to try to get self-sympathy for himself. He clearly hated Lynch and certainly celebrated his death. I would not want the drunk-driver that killed my daughter to show up at the funeral and give a speech but it is far worse in this case. The office of PM should be respected but the funeral is a private affair not to mention we have a separation of Church and State. The one who is disrespecting the office of PM is the PM himself but I guess you think that is just fine. Going to the Lynch Funeral was an act of disrespect, obviously. If he had gotten away with it he would have been laughing for days!
      One way to show respect for the House of God is to protect it and not honour Satan when he comes to gloat over his handiwork.
      Do not impose your attitude of religion onto me, I have a higher respect for Jesus than you apparently, and will not show sympathy to those that seek to deceive and destroy his message and purpose by welcoming Satan into our hearts and the House if God.
      Shame on you!

  5. Another misleading headline that forced me to read and analyze the contents before making judgment.

    I do agree with Cammie that if the facts of the article are correct: The P.M did not want the possibility of a repeat of the behavior at Lynch’s funeral vs. he was fearful of attending the funeral and being booed. I highly doubt that he will care (my opinion, cemented in Kenton’s own quotation of the Honorable PM).

    However, this is Kenton’s style. Salacious headlines to attract the readers smh. It is good that there are others who are not “fearful of being booed ” or criticized to call him out.

    Cammie, look out for the defensive response from the writer!!!

    Or perhaps, he only likes to be defensive to me 🙂

  6. People should have respect for the house of God. Politics, and human emotions should never make it right for one to be irreverent. What happened at Mr. Lynch’s funeral was gross disrespect

  7. Ricardo Francis says:

    My view of John Horne is questionable, as a result of an incident concerning a matter that I had discussed with Ralph, the Pharoah leader. I spoke to John Horne on Ralph’s advise. I met John Horne on a street in Kingstown when he was a Minister of the Mitchell government and he advised that Ralph had already spoken with him about the issue. I got the spin from John Horne. What secrets did John Horne take to his grave and what secrets does Ralph Gonsalves have and or had for John Horne? The writing has been on the wall for years by some elements in the political elite of SVG: Keep Ricardo Francis away and from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    I am very fearless and courage. The good and GREAT LORD and the good and great people of St, Vincent and the Grenadines shall make me, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in time.

    Again, my condolences to his family and may his soul rest in eternity, for all seasons!!!

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making.

  8. Jolly Green says:

    Augustas you wrote “An elected Prime Minister of any country must be treated with dignity and respect whether persons like him or not.” I disagree with your sentiments completely. Hitler was elected would you say that he should have been treated with dignity and respect? In fact had they not shown him that respect millions of people’s lives would have been saved.

    Lynch did not like Gonsalves one iota, many Vincentians believe Gonsalves hounded him to death with legal matters, according to Lynch even caused him to lose his property years ago, what he was not was a friend of Gonsalves. If Lynch’s family invited Gonsalves it was because they ignored the fact that Lynch would not approve of him being at his funeral and I suggest Gonsalves was in fact invited for personal reasons of the family. Lynch was a public figure and as such the public have the right to react in whatever way they see fit, the family do not have the last say.

    Gonsalves calls Lynch his friend, but I ask you all, with a friend like Gonsalves who needs enemies?

    Gunzi boy, you wrote “and have Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves represent him at a very important meeting on security in Trinidad and Tobago”. What he in fact meant to say is that ‘he had chosen to remain in St. Vincent and have his son Camillo Gonsalves represent him at a meeting on security in Trinidad, and on this occasion had given him permission to talk.’

    Quite simply another show of cowardice.

    1. Sara Jameson says:

      Jolly Green you are correct. All those people or rather sheeple talk about respecting the PM just because they are told that that is how it has to be. It is how the establishment keeps us “useless eaters” in line.These commenters have forgotten HOW a person EARNS respect and it is actually not from winning elections. All of those people doing what they are told they are supposed to do is the reason why so many great people are kept down and very bad people propped-up. I have met very poor people that I respect far more than any leader I have ever met. Augustus Carr C. Ben, AL, Anonymous and many others are heavily indoctrinated by the establishment. They are followers and will never be true leaders because they cannot think for themselves. We see how the USA respected Saddam, Gaddafi and so many of the “bad” leaders (These commenters should go preach to the USA Government about respecting leaders). In truth the USA and most leaders do not even respect life or others’ property. And we are told we have to respect them?. Everyone deserves respect until they lose it. All of those I mentioned are mixed-up, they do not have respect for those that have a different opinion about our PM so they sit on thier high horses and dictate to the rest of us on this site what we are supposed to believe and how we are supposed to behave. They are good sheeple.

  9. Ricardo Francis says:

    Kenton Chance, my friend and brother, I take note that you have failed to publish my comments. The facts surrounding the comments are accurate, in my view. There is, always, more than what the eyes can see. Respect and Appreciation is important, at all times material, but we should never bury our heads in the sand, when we know, there is an alternative perspective based upon the circumstances.

    I am very fearless and courageous.

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making

  10. I feel that JOHN HORNE would have been quite displeased with this hulaballoo and commotion about permitting the PM to attend his august funeral. The John I know would have graciously welcomed his political rival Ralph Gonsalves to any close family funeral – – – though not necessarily accompanied by his speech-i-fying especially as done at my paternal cousin’s [ELRADO LYNCH’s] funeral.
    And, i had had close follow-up discussion about Ralph with LYNCH following his break with his pioneer member status with CECIL “BLAZER” WILLIAM and MATTHEW THOMAS in the formation of the MOVEMENT FOR NATIONAL UNITY (MNU) — ‘me-and-you party’.
    I considered JOHN CLARKE HORNE my very short-term one-time neighbor, benefactor, protector, and friend. I named my first daughter after his spouse — partly on account of how lovely my host cousin pronounced her neighbor-best-friend’s name – – – but, ALSO, on account of the very high estimation in which I held John Horne, perceptible warts and all.
    No longer would John Horne have to witness my passionate shouting of encouragement to our Team SVG Basketball warriors at the WINDWARD ISLANDS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS. i will now spare him that pleasure.
    My condolences to Jeanne, and the “girls – – – and the rest of the extended family.
    May my sometime defender REST-IN-PEACE, though I consider it much too early..
    Always,

    Steve Huggins (Lougheed).
    Vincy Nationalist.

  11. Gonslaves is a coward. After going through the trouble to have the finance minister represent him at an important meeting in TnT so he could be at the funeral, the speculation of disturbance by some NDP agitators is all it takes to opt out at last minute. Such a lame excuse!

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