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Icebox vendors shelter rain while waiting for sales at Kingstown Cemetery on Feb. 26, 2017. The government is moving to ban the possession, supply and consumption of alcohol during funeral possessions and at public cemeteries. (iWN photo)
Icebox vendors shelter rain while waiting for sales at Kingstown Cemetery on Feb. 26, 2017. The government is moving to ban the possession, supply and consumption of alcohol during funeral possessions and at public cemeteries. (iWN photo)
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The government has invited the public to comment on a proposed change to the law to make it illegal to supply, consume or possess intoxicating liquor during a funeral procession or at a cemetery.

The possession of intoxicating liquor in a sealed bottle or container is exempted under the proposed amendment to the Public Order Act, which Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is slated to present to Parliament.

The bill contains three clauses and seeks to prohibit the possession or consumption of intoxicating liquor while being part of a funeral procession through a highway, road, or other thoroughfare; or while in the precincts of a public cemetery.

It also seeks to prohibit the supply of intoxicating liquor while in the precincts of a public cemetery.

“Supply” means to sell, barter, or exchange the intoxicating liquor and whether or not a reward or consideration is received by the supplier.

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If passed into law, the amendment will give the police powers of arrest and powers to confiscate any intoxicating liquor found in the possession of a person and the court the power to impose a fine of up to EC$200.

A police officer may also arrest without warrant any person found contravening the law if, in the opinion of the police officer, to do so is necessary for the safety of any person.

A police officer may confiscate any intoxicating liquor in the possession of a person arrested under the law.

Members of the public are asked to send written comments on the bill  to the Clerk of the House of Assembly.

In February, Gonsalves, saying there was “a lot of disrespect”, announced that his government would bring legislation to regulate the supply and consumption of alcohol at funerals.

“It is one thing for us to say we are celebrating the life of someone who we are moving in a procession with. It is a terrible thing to see people drinking beer and rum while they are jumping up as if it is a carnival,” said Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security.

“And you go inside of the churchyard, and you see people with iceboxes selling alcoholic beverages and so on. I think we have to do something about this. It has become out of hand and the legislators have to do something to bring order to this celebratory but solemn event.”

The issue of alcohol consumption at funerals has been in the public sphere for some time.

In February 2017, Bishop Julius Louis, used his sermon at the funeral in Redemption Sharpes to call for a ban on iceboxes at funerals.

In his sermon, based on Ecclesiastes 7, Louis said he was not sure how many of the funeral attendees were truly aware of why they were at the funeral service.

He suggested that people would say they are there to give support and show solidarity, he said, noting the festivities that accompany funerals.

“I wish the government can find someplace and bring something new in our constitution according to the law of the state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and ensure that no icebox, no side road bars, when we should be focusing soberly,” the preacher had said.

10 replies on “Vincies invited to comment on law to ban alcohol at funerals, public cemeteries”

  1. When I was growing up, even the rum shop doors closed every time a funeral passed. I am not suggesting that we close shops but the amount of drinking and sale of alcohol at funerals should not continue. A funeral is a serious service. The families are grieving and want to see their loved ones go down peacefully without individuals drunkenly disturbing them. If people want to celebrate and drink their rum, do so after. I know things are hard and some people want to make a dollar but there is a time and place for everything.

  2. This law does not make sense as “or while in the precincts of a public cemetery.”, what then happens during carnival on Grenville Street(Back Street) in the vicinity of the Methodist or Anglican churches during carnival? As both of these sites have cemeteries. Drop-Off on the windward coast is opposite a cemetery and many others.

  3. We making law about police opinion? Labour at it again . Brings back memories of Labour Party trying to bring a law which states a police officer can arrest you if he suspect you of thinking of commiting a crime. Instead of getting more democratic we getting more autocratic. It just gave to be a Labour Government

  4. I am apolitical and support the legislation which is long overdue. Where is he sympathy and respect for the dead? It is not only economic but a last chance to say goodbye to someone who has deprated. At least have some kind of emphaty towards not only the dead but also the family. Its a last chance to have an honorary goodbye.

  5. Stupid Vincy says:

    What discussion is needed on the topic of alcohol at a funeral? Bloody ridiculous waste of time this is. If you are a catholic and go to a Catholic church ceremony are you not invited to drink wine (The blood of christ!) Also to partake in cannibalism by apparently eating flesh (The transmuted body of christ) Yes I know! If you understand you will see the futility in this proposed law. To the lawmakers – Get on with some real work and stop this rubbish distraction. Do you see any other country worried about this when there are real issues to deal with. Vincy police abuses are legendary and this is the rubbish you want to consider? Drunk or intoxicated drivers! Drivers who never learned to drive and bought a license. Plenty of them in Vincy. You know the practise. How anyone chooses to pay a tribute to their dead is their business not a dictators fancy. All who spouting rubbish about dishonouring the dead you are very sad and preprogrammed to spouting nonsense! Learn sense before you reach for the nonsense cup.

  6. Anslem Kirby says:

    The calypsonian say. “We live in a comedy country” and he’s right!
    Look when the Lawmaker(s) inviting us, the public, to make our contributions to the Amendment! Yea, we are told to do so just before The SVG World Boss presents the Bill to Parliament!
    Consultation my foot! No town/village meetings or extensive Social Media discussions on the Amendment ! But the “ Brain” has already decided the proposed breaches and penalties! But there are precedents and this is how ‘we do things in SVG”. For instance, look at the Noise Act, the Litter Act, the Setting of Wildfire Act, the Removal of Beach sand Act, the multiple Traffic Enforcement Acts, etc, etc..(my names, but you get the drift). The general public is aware that they have been left out of the equation and so, will continue to ignore these inept laws.
    Hang in there People, for “this too, shall pass”.

  7. I fully support the banning of Alcohol and suggest an immediate ban on Loud Amplified music even in Hearses , also the Traffic department should uphold the Law pertaining to the blocking of Roads I am non Religious but strongly believe that most people would say a spiritual baptist Funeral always reminds them of preparing for Heaven

  8. Ulaunda Grant says:

    thats the norm now person does be in the cemetary selling food snacks and mostly drink while the burial does be taking place but far from the gravside those who are at the cemetary and dont want to be at the graveside does go and buy drinks and do their thing here in Barbados but not at the church or in the churchyard but nowadays nothing is not sacred anymore they does even fight at the gravesight Iwatch a funeral service where some of the relatives did getting on at the service which is sad

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