The British Virgin Islands will be observing a period of mourning for the passing of the late former Premier, Honorable Ralph T O’Neal OBE, who died on Monday.
Making the declaration on Tuesday, Premier Andrew Fahie said: “The territory will observe a national period of mourning to commence from 12th November 2019 until the official funeral and burial. In this regard, all flags on government buildings are to be lowered to half staff throughout this period of national mourning.”
Premier Fahie also added his voice in extending condolences to the family of the late legislator.
“The BVI loved him. The region admired him. The world knew him —Honourable Ralph T O’Neal, OBE. We will miss him,” Fahie said.
“Honourable Ralph T O’Neal, OBE, was a great man who taught me much of what I know today as a leader. He has touched many lives as his work as a longtime servant of the people bears a good testimony of his public service, from public officer to public figure.”
Premier Fahie said Honourable O’Neal commenced his career as a primary school teacher at the age of 18 before he moved to the House of Assembly as the second Speaker of the then Legislative Council. His tenure in politics spanned more than three decades.
“In 1975, Honourable O’Neal decided to join the political arena and became the elected representative for the 7th District. He then went on to become the District Representative for the 9th District and he represented this District until 2015 when he retired from active politics.
While he served in the House of Assembly — formerly the Legislative Council — Honourable O’Neal held the positions of Minister for Social Services, Minister for Natural Resources and Labour and Deputy Chief Minister. In May of 1995, he became Chief Minister following the sudden passing of another Virgin Islands Stalwart, the Honourable H Lavity Stoutt.”
He was also the second Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party.
“Honourable O’Neal could be described as one of the last bastions of politics as we knew it in the Virgin Islands. He was a gentleman who commanded decorum and upheld the greatest respect for this House. He was indeed a teacher, and a pillar of exemplary work not only for us who were trained under his guidance and good advice but for his other political peers in the Caribbean region and perhaps the world. As a forthright beacon, Hon O’Neal was the type of person who preferred to hurt you with the truth, if it were necessary for the cause of the greater good – one of the secrets, I would say, to a long and fruitful career, and an equally long life,” the Premier added.
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