Ex-speaker and former fire chief to work on rescue review

| 28/04/2016 | 44 Comments
Cayman News Service

Mary Lawrence as Speaker of the House

(CNS): The speaker of the Legislative Assembly during the last UDP administration, Mary Lawrence, has been nominated by the opposition leader to assist the expert from the UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency who will be conducting a review of the RCIPS’ handling of the report of five missing people at sea. The premier has appointed retired fire chief Kirkland Nixon to join the panel that will assess the events last month that led to the deaths of Edsell Haylock, Gary Mullings and his three nephews, Nicholas Watler, Kamron (11) and his brother Kanyi Brown (9).

The appointments of the two JPs follows a debate in the Legislative Assembly Monday on a private member’s motion filed by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush calling for an independent quasi-judicial public enquiry into the search and rescue operation.

However, since the governor had already appointed Andrew Jenkins from the MCA, a compromise between the opposition and government benches saw the motion amended to allow the LA to appoint two justices of the peace to work with the UK expert as a “Caymanian pair of eyes and ears”.

Cayman News Service

Kirkland Nixon discussing his role as Coordinator of the NHC during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (Courtesy GovTV)

This was seen as a way to prevent the possibility of a whitewash or cover-up by UK officials if Jenkins was to discover fault with the police commissioner or other RCIPS management.

In a short statement Tuesday, Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick said she believed that Jenkins, who arrived Tuesday, would be independent and impartial. She nevertheless agreed to the idea of including JPs nominated by the opposition leader and Premier Alden McLaughlin, who revealed their choices in the LA Wednesday.

The premier picked Nixon, the former head of the Cayman Islands Fire Service, who had a long career as an emergency services professional. Bush nominated Lawrence, the speaker of the House during his last UDP administration and a former educator, who made several failed attempts to be elected to the LA.

Jenkins, who will chair the small review team, was expected to begin his work yesterday.

During the debate Monday regarding the tragic loss of life, legislators spoke of their concerns that there were too many unanswered questions over the events surrounding the search for the missing three men and two boys.

With allegations and counter allegations and concerns over the reasons why the RCIPS did not start a search immediately following the first report of the missing boat or why the police chopper was not launched at first light, all of the MLAs said it was important to have a transparent review of the events.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully we will find out why the family waited until midnight to alert the police when they were clearly due back earlier – and why the two children were exposed to danger on such a trip and why the parents allowed it. My children leave my company, I want to know why and where. So many questions, and not one of them asked in the Legislative Assembly. Plenty of condolences, no crucial questions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think you’re going to find that this is not a team. It is one investigator and two observers. l seriously doubt that the investigator is going to do anything but give you his own findings and opinion. The others can agree or not.

  3. Anonymous says:

    OMG! Is this actually happening. Mary L. Has no business on this panel whatsoever, what experience or qualifications justifies this appointment????? Just when you think that the absurdity may end Mac pulls out another one.

    • Anonymous says:

      The real investigation should seek to ask why adults with a history of drug dealing take two children out In those conditions to that location…couldn’t find a baby sitter and had to make the rendezvous is, I Suspect, is the real answer.

  4. Anonymous says:


    I was reading an article today where the US Coast Guard searched for days using planes and boats for two teenage boys whose boat overturned off Florida last summer. The boat was eventually found by a cargo ship near to Bermuda, but the two boys were never found. It is very sad and heart wrenching when these events occur, but the sea can be very unforgiving at times. And even with the best trained people and equipment in the world, sometimes a happy ending is not always possible, especially if the victims were not fully prepared for the occurrence.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did the article say whether the coast guard went out right away to search for the boys or did they waited until the next morning?

      • Anonymous says:

        That is a very good question. I will bet there was some mobilization time involved as well. You just don’t jump into a helicopter, or plane, or boat and race off like you would do in a car. There are checks that have to be done first. There are search plans that have to be put in place. You have to gather the information for that. You have to brief your personnel before sending them out to do the task. All of that takes time.

  5. Clear As Mud says:

    One would have thought that the JPs appointed would have had some previous knowledge of the sea. I don’t know if Mr. Nixon has any, but I sure do not believe Mrs. Lawrence has any, other than going through Hurricane Ivan. But that is politics for you. Instead of politicians trying to be genuine and really taking this serious to determine if anything could have been done differently, they are only out to score political mileage. But you know what, if the man conducting the review is smart, he will arrange for both JPs to be taken out by boat and helicopter at midnight on a night with similar conditions to that night and ask them to search for a piece of weighted down Styrofoam painted in similar colours of the boat that overturned with no knowledge of the exact location of it other than it was last seen somewhere by 12 mile banks and lets see if they get the picture. Politicians stop the crap; 5 people have died and the police evaluated the circumstances and made a decision as when was best to commence the search. Let’s just see if their evaluation and subsequent action was correct in the circumstances they were given at the time. And if it is shown that what they did was correct, I want to see which politicians has the balls to apologize to the RCIP. And I am not a policeman, just a born and bred Caymanian who knows the sea and what it is like to be on a dark blue, angry ocean at night.

    • Anonymous says:

      Since Mary Lawrence lost her job working for Desmond Seales on the Norwester magazine 40 years ago, she has had zero-repeat zero- employment except as a teachers aid at the school her sister was the principal of. Then along came McKeeva who XXXXX made her Speaker, gave her an MBE from the Queen, arranged for her to get free health care she was not actually entitled to and has now made her the “eyes of Cayman” watching that “Limey” we have here looking into the search and rescue operation which recently ended very sadly for two young kids. Mrs Lawrence hasn’t the remotest clue about the area she is supposed to be monitoring but in the Disneyland that is Cayman that does not matter. She’s a Caymanian (only real qualification that matters in Cayman these days), knows an Englishman when she sees him and she is going to keep her eyes and ears on him. Hilarious ……and very sad and pathetic.

      • Anonymous says:

        @4.49pm The two JPs are not being asked to carry out a search and rescue,but to work alongside the expert who will review what actually took place during one specific SAR. ( But you knew that already I am sure, but decided to be a smartass; the problem is that when you do this , you do not look smart at all, you just come across as DUMB). However the real disqualification, in your eyes, is that they are Caymanian, which becomes obvious almost instantly.Shame on you.

    • Anonymous says:

      I really don’t think that a perquisites for this review are technical knowledge of the sea or even search and rescue protocols. This calls for capacity to undertake meticulous gathering and analysis of the information the police received and how they responded. I imagine that the team will call in trustworthy experts to help them assess accounts and actions.

      This happens in court — judges do not have to be technical experts in the matters that come before them — they have to be sharp in assimilating, analyzing, digesting, interpreting and assessing, and ultimately arriving at the truth.

      I see no reason to believe that this team does not have the capacity to do this.

      And let us remember to be kind to one another, especially to persons who give a life time to public service to make life better for all of us.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We can only hope that the enquiry goes so far as to determine what exactly was stolen from Mr. Mullings abode and why. Perhaps even ask the question as to what possessed the young boys parents to leave them in his care in the first place……

  7. Anonymous says:

    Its nice that an American with some brains has been appointed.
    she needs to earn her keep so she can continue paying her taxes to uncle sam

    • Anonymous says:

      They could have brought in one of the best professionals in the world on this matter and some of you would find fault with it. If you think that both of the persons selected are not well capable then you all are sadly mistaken. Would either one of you out there be able to replace them, then please let us see a show of hands. If you all do not have anything positive to say, then please refrain from posting rubbish.

  8. Real People says:

    Hopefully the Chief Engineer/Senior Captain of the unit that has been on paid suspension since 2013 will be consulted with.

    He has undertaken thousands hours of experience in SAR’s in his 21yrs of service to these Islands and the MU, and he also knows a great deal of the engineering and administration side of the MU. He was also one of the three that has been out in two hurricanes and numerous sever weather (norwester) SARs.

    He was also a very avid keeper of records and documents, to which he still has.

    I worked with him for years and found him to be one of the most dedicated and straight forward officers there.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why so many rude, hateful comments about Ms. Lawrence? She didn’t appoint herself. If you want to berate someone, how about the person who appointed her?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, come on — you need an intelligent, sensible person with a sense of justice and fairness. That describes Mrs. Lawrence. In those respects she ay actually have the edge.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suspect many of the rude comments are because she is now helping herself to a pension to which she was not entitled and should never have received. And because she has no use whatsoever on this panel.

    • Anonymous says:

      Her close association with the person who recommended her is the whole point…duh..

  10. Just Watchin says:

    She could have said no. But like Mc, she couldn’t miss the chance.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If the Leader of the Opposition wanted to make the inquiry a joke then he couldn’t have selected a better addition to the group. Clearly there is method to his madness, what is it?

    • Marathon says:

      Presumably she is happy to be his eyes and ears and will follow instructions if Mac wants the findings disrupted or stonewalled. I can see no other possible reason for her appointment.

  12. Allar says:

    How dear you all to belittle Mrs Lawerence, she is a lady and have always conduct herself as same. Whilst she has no sea rescue experience she is sensible enough to know right and wrong. She is an icon in this country and if you all would live like she lives with pride and dignity you wouldn’t be writing this sort regarding her.

    • Anonymous says:

      Taking a pension from the public pot when you have no right to it – wrong. Silencing politicians from speaking in the legislature when they are exposing the activities of XXX – wrong.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Its all in the wig, Put that on and your are an expert right away. lol Mr. Kirk yes and agreed but her now com on my Auntie could do better

    • Anonymous says:

      @1:44pm So that’s your complaint then. My Auntie was not picked and she ‘could do better’

  14. SMH says:

    Does she even live here anymore? Thought she moved to the US? Guess she is doing for free out of gratitude for the free medical care the MLAs just awarded her.

  15. Anonymous says:

    You have it all wrong she stayed in a Holiday Inn express last night

  16. Anonymous says:

    It is now no longer “independent” and the opportunity to delay the report or railroad through things that will not be liked by both sides of the house has been given. Shame on you all. For once stop Cayman stop behaving like a banana republic and allow “true” independence and due course to prevail!

  17. Anonymous says:

    This just about sums it up into politicization – sure this will speed it all up.

  18. Sharkey says:

    I challenge Mr Bush to explain why he would select Ms. Lawrence to be in this investigation when she doesn’t have search and rescue experience, no boating experience , no sea experience and probably don’t even know how to swim.
    Please Mr Bush I am waiting for your response.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mac… that was really stupid and they are so many even West Bayers that have the expertize needed. One of these days I hope you stop falling over your past mistakes.

    • George says:

      Ms. Mary Lawrence is extremely intelligent; fact.

      But as always in the Caribbean, men have ZERO respect for women….our own political leaders have no respect for their wives, daughters etc…so this reaction is not shocking to me. Had they picked some old male pedophile (many of those in Cayman), you all would be singing his praises.

      I can tell you all one thing though, if you think Ms. Lawrence is losing any sleep over your ignorance and bigotry, you can think again. She will stay focused no matter what and get the job done. She’s a mover and a shaker not a mouth champion, like our political leaders; all mouth and no action.

    • Anonymous says:

      Steve McField was not awailable.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Are these paid positions and if so how much?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Do they not know anyone aged under 75?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Is she going to wear that funny hat?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Mrs Lawrence has tremendous expertise in sea rescue operations and her knowledge will be invaluable assistance to the UK Coastguard.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I understand Mr Nixon’s qualifications, but have no idea what use Mary Lawerence will be with the investigation….

  24. Anonymous says:

    waste of time and money. end of story.

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