Archive for July 4th, 2009

Pirates’ daysare numbered

Pirates’ daysare numbered

| 04/07/2009 | 47 Comments

(CNS): Speaking for the first time publicly since his declaration in a May church service that he intended to rename the longstanding annual Pirates Week festival, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said he not only planned to change the name of the event but also its content. He said he wanted to see more emphasis on Cayman’s sea faring history. “It’s had its day,” said Bush, adding that times have changed and people now question what relationship Cayman has with piracy.

Bush said at the new government’s first press briefing on Thursday that Pirates Week hardly brings any tourists now and there needed to be more meaning to the festival. “I want to see more school children involved,” he added, saying it should be depicting things Caymanian, although he said the pirates would not be banned but would no longer be the central theme. He suggested having replicas of tall ships and turtle boats landing instead of pirates tearing people up.

While acknowledging that the pirates theme was fun and colourful and may have meaning for some people associated with it, he said it had other connotations that the country did not need at this time. He said it had nothing to do with the church but was to do with the country as a whole and its image.

Although a name has not been settled, the LoGB indicated he preferred something along the lines of cultural or heritage week. He denied that he had thought up the idea of change on the spot but that for several years Pirates Week had not added value to the tourism product and there were a number of ideas and proposals on the table.

When the news first broke that the government was re-thinking the Pirates Week Festival a few days following the election, a number of people appeared to offer support but those involved in the tourism industry began questioning the wisdom.

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association also told CNS last month that its members are concerned over the loss of the “Pirates Week" name because it has gained momentum with visitors over the years and gives a real boost to business during a slow time — particularly the restaurants and bars.

Trina Christian said that CITA members would certainly be interested in engaging in the discussion that may result. She said it was important to consider that while the "promotion" of pirates has been up for discussion for many years, the concern that has now arisen with merging "pirates" into a new name change, such as Cultural Heritage Week, is that it may give further association to pirates and local heritage,which is not the outcome people were looking for. “We look forward to being able to discuss this topic with the new minister so that any changes or enhancements can be coordinated to achieve successful results,” Christian stated on behalf of the members.

The Seattle Seafair Pirates also spoke with told CNS recently and expressed their disappointment over the name change. “The whole idea of Pirates Week was to bring the tourist to Cayman in the down season, and it worked,” said Mark Jensen, a spokesperson for the service club which has helped to boost Pirates week over the years. The Seattle Pirates say the festival has attracted huge numbers of visitors to the island during what is considered the quietest part of the season.

“Changing the name will have a detrimental impact even if the events remained the same,” Jensen told CNS. “The success of Pirates Week is unquestionable and we cannot understand why it would be changed when it’s working. Over the years the numbers have increased for Pirates Week to the point where you can’t get a hotel room now during that week, which is exactly what it was meant to do. I am interested to understand what the government is trying to accomplish here. The festival was designed to attract tourists and that is what it did. Excuse the pun but the name is a hook which attracts visitors.”

Jensen, who is himself an event planner by trade, noted that taking away the name would be a serious marketing mistake. He said that the fun pirate theme, which his organisation uses, attracts positive attention not negative, and has nothing to do with the terrorists that some people now refer to as pirates operating off the coast of East Africa.

Mary Trumbach, daughter of the late Jim Bodden, the national hero who founded Pirates Week, told The Caymanian Compass recently that she was “livid over the decision”, both for personal reasons and for the business dependent on Pirates Week. “I’m extremely annoyed,” she stated.

Her father started the festival over 30 years ago, having been approached by local businesses and hoteliers about doing something for the slower period of tourist season. She said Pirates Week has been extremely successful year after year and it has helped out local businesses, especially smaller vendors. “Changing the name is an insult to my father’s memory and to me and my family,” she said.

Digicel told CNS on Monday, 8 June, that it would continue its support of the annual festival regardless. “Digicel has been a proud sponsor of the festival for the last 3 years, as part of our efforts to promote Caymanian heritage and culture,” said Victor Corcoran, CEO Digicel Cayman. “The title of the festival, whilst relevant to the program, remains under the management of the organizing committee.  Digicel has embraced this national celebration and will continue to do so through its support of the decision by the Cayman Islands Cultural Festival committee.”

So far the Department of Tourism, the Pirates Week Committee and the Tourism Attraction Board have not offered any official comment on the change or what will happen regarding this week’s festival but the Pirates Week website for this year’s festival between 12-22 November is already live with the majority of the events already listed.

Continue Reading

Dr Frank abandons appeal against conviction

Dr Frank abandons appeal against conviction

| 04/07/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Former Member of the Legislative Assembly and UDP Minister Dr Frank McField has abandoned his appeal against a conviction he received in February of 2008 for assaulting police, threatening violence, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. McField was fined $2,300 in relation to the incident which occurred at a roadblock set up following a fatal accident on Shamrock Road in the early hours of 15 September, 2006. The appeal was due to be heard in Grand Court on Friday 3 July by Justice Alex Henderson; however, McField’s Attorney Clyde Allen told the court that McField would not be pursuing the appeal.

This means the conviction which McField received following the incident where he was said to have been drunk and had abused the police, will stand. McField also received a fine of $100 in December of last year for another incident in which he was arrested for disorderly conduct and threatening violence after an incident along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway on 9 November, 2006.

Dr Frank McField served as Minister for Community, Youth, Sports and GenderAffairs in the United Democratic Party Government from 2001 to 2005. He first entered the Legislative assembly as fourth elected member for George Town in 1996 and lost his seat in the 2005 election. He ran once again in the recent 20 May General Election as an independent candidate but gained less than five percent of the vote. A controversial character McField has found himself in the spotlight for both cultural contributions such as playwriting as well as his ministry’s Affordable Housing which was investigated by the Royal Cayman Islands Police following indications by an auditor General’s report that around $300,000 seemed to have gone missing.

According to reports of the February trail in which McField received the conviction, he had intended to appeal, he had threatened to kill two police officers that were attempting to arrest him at the roadblock before kicking one of them and spitting in the other officers face. The court heard that McField had repeatedly accused the officers of being racist, and threatened to have them kicked off the island.

Continue Reading

Still no lawyer for Ricketts

Still no lawyer for Ricketts

| 04/07/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): One of the men accused of murdering Estella Scott-Roberts is still without representation only weeks away from the trial. While the Legal Aid issue over the payment of lead counsel has now been resolved, Larry Ricketts still has no local junior legal representation on island. Justice Alex Henderson was forced to adjourn the case for a further seven days on Friday to see if a lawyer could be found to represent him locally but refrained from striking out the current trial date, which remains set for August.

Following ongoing problems regarding representation for the two men accused of the murder, the court heard on 3 July that Ricketts’ co-defendant Kirkland Henry has now been granted a legal aid certificate to secure the services of a Queens Counsel from Jamaica and that local defence attorney Ben Tonner was continuing as his local junior counsel.

Although Ricketts has now been allocated legal aid to cover his representation needs, including a QC, he has yet to secure a junior barrister to take his case and who would in turn approach lead counsel on his behalf.

Justice Henderson queried why John Furniss, the barrister who had originally taken Ricketts’ case, had been forced to come off record and raised his concern that, with the limited number of barristers doing criminal defence work in Cayman, counsel should not be coming off record over disagreements but only over fundamental or ethical problems.

Justice Henderson asked Tonner if he knew if there was an ethical difficulty with Furniss and requested that he ask Furniss to reconsider and talk to him about representing Ricketts. Tonner explained that he was not aware of the details but he could confirm that Furniss had been given leave to come off record. He said that, while he would pass on the message, he felt that Jennifer King, who deals with legal aid applications, would be better placed to establish if Furniss could return to the record and represent Ricketts or whether another defence barrister was available.  

Henderson indicated clearly that he would like Furniss to return to Ricketts’ case. “It is one thing to withdraw over a disagreement and being forced to withdraw,” Henderson noted, adding that he felt coming off record over a dispute in how the case would be presented was not really acceptable. Henderson indicated that he believed too many defendants were dismissing counsel because they did not like what they were being told. He explained that a client determines certain issues such as the plea, but when it comes to tactics then it is the barrister that makes those decisions and they should be saying ‘no’ more often when clients were asking to dismiss when offered pessimistic predictions.

Tonner requested that the judge turn his attention, in the meantime, to the trial date, which he said was wholly unrealistic given the circumstance as it was scheduled for the first week of August. However, Justice Henderson said he was reluctant to vacate the date at that time and wanted to wait one more week to see if counsel could be retained for Ricketts before he considered the need of changing the trial date.

During the morning’s Grand Court mentions, the lack of legal representation was raised on a number of occasions causing adjournments and delays to several cases, both for Grand Court matters and Summary Court appeals. As a result, Justice Henderson said he wanted to see Jennifer King attend the Grand Court in future during mentionsso that she could be aware of all the cases being referred to her where there was a problem with defence counsel.

Continue Reading