ST JOHN’S, Antigua – It’s a possibility that within two months’ time the title “Sir” would be conferred on former prime minister and now leader emeritus of the opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) MP Lester Bird.
Bird, whose nomination for knighthood was rejected in 2008, was recently nominated again – this time by ALP leader Gaston Browne.
“I sent in my nominations for three people to receive knighthood and our leader Emeritus was one of them,” Browne told OBSERVER media. “Lester Bird has made the second largest contribution to this country after his father and the nation’s founding father, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird. I expect that nomination to be considered as well as the others.”
Last week the opposition sent nominations to Governor General Dame Louise Lake Tack, recommending Bird, Paul “King Obstinate” Richards and cricket icon Andy Roberts be accorded knighthood.
In 2008, then opposition leader in Parliament Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin nominated Bird, but it was rejected on the alleged basis Bird was still actively involved in politics.
Browne however said, apart from rules barring serving members of the National Honours Committee from being nominated, the governor general doesn’t have the power to reject other nominations except in the case where she can prove aberrant behaviour by the nominee.
“I don’t expect any rejection,” Browne said. “I know there has also been talk about the opposition leader only being able to make nominations once every two years, but this is the first time I’m making nomination under that title earned on November 25 last year when I became leader.”
He also indicated, he submitted nominations “early” because he’s aware of at least one occasion when Bird made nominations and they were rejected because they were “submitted too late.”
The ALP political leader said if “partisan politics” result in the rejection of the nomination for Bird to be knighted, he hopes there would be “co-operation” between government and opposition officials to at least honour Roberts and Richards.
In 2009, Bird had submitted the names of late historian Leonard “Tim” Hector and Dr Joseph “Joey” John for knighthood, but both names were rejected.
In the case of Hector, Bird had said he received a letter from Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack informing him that Hector could not be considered for another posthumous award as he had already received one in 2006. Bird did not reveal the reason the nomination for Dr John was rejected.