President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), Dr Ronnie Yearwood, says the decision to change Independence Day to Barbados National Day is not only wrong, it may be illegal.
Yearwood, who is a law lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, told the media on Wednesday evening at the DLP’s George Street headquarters the decision would have to be passed as an Act of Parliament.
“It is something that would have to go to Parliament. If you look at the Public Holidays Act of Barbados, Independence Day is noted as one of the listed holidays and it says November the 30th; that is Independence Day,” he said.
“So there is a legal aspect to this… It looks as if the Government’s ability to simply rename Independence Day by Cabinet decision is not only wrong, it is also illegal, because as far as I understand, I do not think that any Act was passed in Parliament.”
Yearwood said he was also angry as Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the Barbadian people that the name ‘Independence Day’ would not be changed.
“Calling it Independence Day does not take away from the fact that you became a republic and the reality is… we’ve always been an independent republic. That last vestige of removing the Queen as a ceremonial head was just that, but the reality is when I last checked, the Governor General of Barbados has always been a Barbadian…We recognise that Independence is for Barbadians. We recognise that independence is pivotal to us,” he said.
In response to the explanation offered by the Prime Minister on social media for the change, Yearwood labelled it as an attempt at ‘gaslighting’ the Barbadian public. He said that while the DLP pioneered Independence, it remained a gift to be celebrated by Barbadians.
“We have never celebrated Independence as a Democratic Labour Party festival. It is something for all Barbadians. It is something that we wish to continue and it is something that we will go to lengths to prevail. We will not stand for this, we will not allow this to happen.”
The DLP has begun to implement several strategies to combat the change. On Tuesday night, Yearwood created a petition to reverse what he calls a “hasty and unwanted decision”. At the time of writing, more than 4 400 people had signed in less than 24 hours.
He said the party was also planning a peaceful protest match in The City from Queen’s Park to Independence Square, The City, over the weekend, and invited all Barbadians to participate. (JK/SAT)