Civil servants can attend protests, says DG

| 16/10/2015 | 38 Comments
Cayman News Service

East End protest against the seaport in 2011, which civil servants were allowed to attend

(CNS): Civil servants who are not in senior management positions or directly involved in issues relating to government policies that become the subject of protests and marches can attend these demonstrations, including the event planned regarding the dredging of George Town Harbour on Saturday, the deputy governor has confirmed. Like the policy relating to petitions and signing up for causes that may oppose certain public policies, civil servants can take part provided they do not have a connection to the issue during the course of their work and there are no objections from their line managers.

Speaking to CNS on the day of the recent ‘gas price’ march, Franz Manderson said that the clarification that government employees can attend demonstrations came ahead of a protest held in East End in June 2011 after the premier at the time, McKeeva Bush, had offered his backing to a proposed project to create a seaport in the High Rock area, which also posed severe threats to the environment.

“The documents we have issued covers all of this,” he said. “The whole thing started regarding a demonstration up in East End … that’s when we developed the policy. In my opinion, in the same way that they are allowed to sign petitions, they have a right to take part in a protest provided they follow the guidelines in the policy.”

With the nod from the top of the civil service, public sector workers can attend and show their opposition to the dredging, which threatens some 30 acres of marine habitat in George Town, included unique ancient coral reefs and associated marine life, as well as wrecks, both directly in the dredging footprint and indirectly from silt and turbulence during the years of construction.

Environmental activists and those opposed to the current port plan are hoping that a protest involving significant numbers will send a clearer message to the Cayman Islands Government that the public consultation results, which showed the community was three to one against the plan.

Local photographer Courtney Platt, one of the organisers, told CNS that the rally is about asking government to look again at this plan and see if the same goals of attracting the larger cruise ships and growing cruise passenger numbers cannot be achieved some other way.

“There are several good options already on the table.  This is not a question of build the current plan or die, as some proponents for the current plan would suggest,” he said.

“The EIA, EAB, DEMA letter to government, Ellen Prager letter to government, CITA letter to government, National Trust for the Cayman Islands letter to government and many others have clarified that dredging in the harbour, despite massively expensive mitigations, will kill a significant portion of Grand Cayman’s marine park, natural heritage and tourism attraction,” he said.

“Alive as a tourist attraction, the harbour’s reefs hold an unquestionably significant economic value for the Cayman economy far into the future,” he said, sharing a position supported not only by the original environmental impact assessment (EIA) but also the recent updated business case.

He warned of the size of coral destruction outside of the dredging area and said that the world renowned Eden Rock, Devil’s Grotto, Soto’s South and the Cali Shipwreck are all in grave peril, presenting an inconceivable loss to the islands.

“It is the government’s responsibility, not ours, to find an adequate way to increase cruise tourism without dredging and destroying the harbour ecosystem,” he said, pointing to at least three alternative proposals government should consider with no reef damage, such as enhanced tendering, including shore-side security clearance, the Cayman Sky Bridge or an alternative plan set out in the Baird EIA.

The peaceful demonstration, which is set to start at 3 pm at the George Town waterfront across from Breezes by the Bay, comes in the wake of the premier’s announcement to move ahead with the current port plan. Despite the accepted significant threats to the reefs, the premier has said that it is about choosing between the environment and the economy. People wishing to sign the People’s Initiated Referendum Petition are asked to bring their voter registration number.

For more details visit the Save Cayman’s Reef: No Dredging Peaceful Protest Facebook page

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Realistically there may have been 300 to 350 people there maximum. Being generous 50-60% at most were local.
    I think it’s safe to move ahead now Mr premier.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hope after the few dozen people complete their protest you guys will shut up and let us CAYMANIANS run our own country.

  3. Sharkey says:

    I think for sure that the government is taking away your freedom and freedom of speech. This kind of action by government should not be tolerated, because this kind of action by any government do not get better. I think that every civil servants and every caymanian better grow a pair of, and don’t let government tell you what you can and can’t do.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The protest will probably get some decent numbers, but make no mistake, a much larger majority support the dock.

    • B. Hurlstone says:

      A majority support the dock? Sez who?…….. You forgot to sign your comment.

    • Anonymous says:

      You should join with those working for a referendum, it would be the best way to make sure the voice of the majority is heard.

  5. Ron says:

    I hope the whole island shows up and those that are overseas just to show the government that their decision is a bad one for the future of these islands.

  6. Harden says:

    Will there be anywhere nearby that we can buy an overpriced watch for the girlfriend for Christmas, I’ll bring the Govt credit cards!

  7. Anonymous says:

    “no objections from their line managers.” This is telling me that a line manager can use his influence by controlling the actions of those under him/her. That does not strike me as freedom to protest. That is freedom to protest if your boss says it is OK; two different things.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am a PPM member and i going tomorrow. We have a weak PPM leader with a big ego.

  9. Bling Man says:

    I nah going. I cant take da chance.

  10. Just Sayin' says:

    You can go but will be disqualified from the running for Employee Of The Month when spotted.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Great that CIG is “allowing” CS workers a right to protest. That they have that right anyway is nothing to do with it.

  12. Be there if you care! This is about being counted to send your message to CIG! Share, share, share. Your descendants will thank you for generations to come.

    • 18 Holes says:

      Courtney your efforts are appreciated, but Caymanians are a reticent, apathetic people and do not engage in public protest. So you’ll get a couple hundred at most.

      And the Kirk-Bots and their pet politicians will just use the low turnout as evidence of dock support.

      • Anonymous says:

        18 holes, already coming up with excuses before it happens? Sounds about right.

        You’re right though, even if 1,000 show up, That’s not the majority. Most people just want this to be over one way or the other and don’t care enough to even voice an opinion. The save tender side are pushing their agenda, while the pro-pier side are willing to find middle ground, that is best for Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        You should still go to show that you do not support the CURRENT proposal- until a better one is actually shown to reduce the environmental impact. The timing of that “announcement” was probably done exactly to deter those people from protesting who simply want a better design that doesn’t impact the reefs- NEVER TRUST THE WORDS OF A POLITRICKTIAN!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Kirkbot stirring it!! Trying to get people not to go

    • Anonymous says:

      I bet more foreigners than Caymanians show up.

  13. Uncivil Servant says:

    What about me? I am I allowed to attend?

    • sonia says:

      Uncivil ….don’t go stay home and blog we love reading your comical negative unconstructive posts zzzzzzzz zzzzzzzz.

  14. Anonymous says:

    At least Courtney seems to care less about the tender company XXXX Courtney sort of seems like he would be willing to find some middle ground, which hopefully is the case. No one person will get what they want, but the island needs some form of berthing, that is obvious. Hopefully we can work together to find a berthing solution that the cruise companies will get on board with and is practical, with the least impact on the environment. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Save Tender Company Movement will accept any solution other than sticking with saving their boss, who is funding the movement.

  15. Riot Squad says:

    Can’t wait for tomorrow!

  16. Anonymous says:

    The only think that should be tendered is the the building of the pier.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Civil Servants can get hired, paid and get raises when government has money – government has money when they make revenue – governement makes a lot of revenue from the cruise industry – maintain or increase the cruise industry by building a Cruise berthing facility – keep civil servants employed and paid.

    • Diogenes says:

      Government will have no money to spend on CS wages having spent a fortune on building the damn thing. Remember what happened with the schools?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Will donuts be provided?

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