councillors have duty to attend set-ups and funeral


November 08, 2016
Donna Parchment Brown
Arnold Bertram

If you should check the website of the St Catherine Parish Council, you will see that the duties of a councillor include attending set-ups, funeral services, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and civic ceremonies.

Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown said there is nothing wrong with councillors taking on this responsibility.

"I think it is a carry-over from the idea that you come from the community, so if the community is rejoicing, you are rejoicing with them; if the community is mourning, you are mourning with them," she said.


For years, some residents in constituencies across the country have not only sought assistance from their political representatives to bury their dead, but insist they should attend funeral services.

Parchment Brown, speaking a Gleaner Editors' Forum at North Street in Kingston yesterday, said while it is important for the functions of political representatives to be clearly set out in law, there is nothing wrong with councillors showing solidarity with their community members.

Arnold Bertram, former minister of local government, agrees that councillors and MPs seek to show solidarity with the people and therefore attend events such as funerals and weddings.

He pointed out, however, that increasingly, MPs are taking on additional responsibilities outside of their core duties.

"The primary function of a councillor is to represent local issues and to ensure the delivery of local services," Bertram said.

Asked whether attending funerals and wakes should be a duty of councillors, Bertram said that it comes with the territory.

"To represent a community means that, and I have no problem with councillors feeling that they should be with their community when their communities rejoice or when their community mourn," Bertram said.

Norman Scott, chairman of the St Catherine Parish Council disagreed that attending set-ups, funeral services and weddings should be listed as functions and duties of a councillor.

"The citizens expect councillors are responsible from the womb from the tomb," Scott said.

He said that while attending attending events such as set-ups, funeral services and weddings may enhance a councillor's likability, his duty is to make representation to improve the lives of the people.

"I go to them because I think it is important for me to show empathy, sympathy and to at time grieve with your constituents. I will go to a wedding, if I am invited, to share in the love and appreciation of my constituents. But I can't say that is a role and function of a councillor," Scott said.

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