Falklands : Motion for Adjournment Speech by the Hon Dr Barry Elsby:
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 05.03.2012 (Article Archived on 19.03.2012)
Mr Speaker, in rising to support the Motion I would like to join with the Honourable Jan Cheek in expressing my personal sympathies towards the dead and the gravely injured in Argentina following the train crash yesterday.
Motion for Adjournment Speech by the Hon Dr Barry Elsby:
Mr Speaker, in rising to support the Motion I would like to join with the Honourable Jan Cheek in expressing my personal sympathies towards the dead and the gravely injured in Argentina following the train crash yesterday. I don’t need to tell you the differences we have with Argentina – the government of Argentina but I think as a democratic and emphatic people we have to send our sympathies to any disaster like this and I think those sympathies should be from ourselves to the people of Argentina.
I would also like to join with the Honourable Jan Cheek in welcoming Congressman Sensenbrenner to the Islands. I hope he will have an enlightened stay while he is here. He certainly came the long way around from Washington to London and then on the Air-bridge to MPA and so he will have an understanding as to why we need to work with the MoD to ensure that improvements happen with the air-bridge such that it can play a better role in the future development of our Islands. He will be heading back on the LAN flight on Saturday and will understand why we also value that link with South America.
We are not isolationists here and want nothing more than good relations with all our neighbours – to be allowed to trade freely – to travel freely and to have our ships trade where they wish.
Mr Speaker, America is a great nation and like Britain is a great defender of democracy and the Falkland islands must seem very remote indeed when viewed from the distance from Washington. But democracy is not about size or power or strength of arms. It’s about what’s right and what’s wrong. And I hope that during his stay here Congressman Sensenbrenner will get a better idea of the realities on the ground here in 2012.
And that reality check is what most South American Journalists and TV crews who visited recently seem to leave with. You don’t need for me to tell you just how many journalists have been here lately – from Europe – from UK – from North and South America and even from Japan. And I am sure that the Falkland Islands must hold some form of record for a country for the percentage of population that have been interviewed during any four week period because everyone I have spoken to seems to have spoken to some member of the press.
Whenever I meet a Journalist from South America and especially from Argentina I make a point of asking them what are their thoughts now, what are their beliefs and thoughts about the reality on the ground compared to what they thought before they left South America. Almost without exception they tell me that their ideas have changed completely; that they realise now that the Falkland Islands are not a part of South America held down by the aggressive British, who need to put their forces in the Islands to keep us in our place but we are a thriving democracy that wishes nothing more than to determine our own future.
Mr Speaker, over the last week or so, as the Honourable Jan Cheek said, we’ve had large groups of Argentine visitors – perhaps the largest group for a long time. Many were veterans and wanted nothing more than to come quietly to sites of battles and to try to lay some ghosts in the same way that many of the British veterans do. But their presence in such numbers and the actions of a small group of their members have caused a lot of distress to the people here, particularly the Islanders who were here during the conflict and I, like many of my Honourable Colleagues have received many calls from distressed people asking why we can’t just send them home. I am afraid the answer to that is that we are a democracy and unless they break our laws they have a right to visit. And it is my hope that not only will these visits help veterans to move on and help them heal but the tales that they take back to their own country of the realities of the Falkland Islands now will help us in the long run.
But there is a limit and MLAs are working with the Police and the Attorney General’s department to try and ensure that future visits do not lead to public disorder, which would be a great detriment to us in the eyes of the world.
There is a flight from Rio Gallegos on the 9thn of June and so there might be a lot of Argentines here during Liberation Day. We must and I believe we will make careful plans as to how to deal with that situation and all options are being discussed.
Mr Speaker, I would like to finish by thanking everyone in the Islands for being unpaid representatives of the Falkland Islands, if you like, by simply being yourselves and showing the quiet dignity we are renowned for and not responding to this provocation you have endured. You have done more for the cause of the Falkland Islands in the world press than any number of experts.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.