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Mr Perera Helps Montserrat to celebrate St Patrick’s Day – for sixteen days

Other than Ireland itself, where else in the world celebrates St Patrick’s Day with a national holiday? Well, the Caribbean island of Montserrat has a national holiday on the 17th March and it certainly celebrates in some style. 

But it’s not just a celebration of the Day itself. 

This year, Montserrat’s Festival of St Patrick began with a torch lighting ceremony on Saturday 2nd March and ended with a Parade, a Heritage Feast and a Market Day on the 18th. In between, every day was full of calypso competitions, sporting events, beauty competitions, live music concerts, flower shows and so much more. 

Needless to say, all this excitement placed considerable pressure on the Royal Monserrat Police Service (RMPS). Whilst everyone else was enjoying themselves, the task of policing these events fell to the men and women of the RMPS with RGP officer, Sean Perera as senior officer of the events planning team. In a typical day, he would attend several events as one of the island’s VIPs and then return to his office to check that all the plans for the following day’s events were in place and ready to be activated.. 

Montserrat’s links with Ireland date back to the seventeenth century when Irish settlers moved to the Caribbean islands to escape the invasion of their homeland by Oliver Cromwell’s English Army in 1641. 

Shortly afterwards, 70% of Montserrat’s white population self-identified as Irish and many of them soon became wealthy plantation owners and, as the sugar and tobacco industry grew, more enslaved people were brought to the island. But, in 1678, the slaves picked St. Patrick’s Day to revolt. Although the rebellion was a failure, slavery on the island was finally abolished in 1834. 

Montserrat turned this horrific moment in history into an opportunity to celebrate its unique combination of Irish and African heritage – the St Patrick’s Festival. 

During the Festival, the island’s population doubles. Tourists flock from other Caribbean islands to enjoy all the fun. Thousands of former Montserrat residents who left during the volcanic activity of the 1990s come back to remind themselves of what they have left behind. This year, every hotel room and rental car was booked, long in advance of the Festival. 

As this year’s celebrations drew to a close, the island’s Governor, Her Excellency Sarah Tucker, asked Mr Perera to extend his stay as acting Commissioner of Police, which, of course, he will do. 

But perhaps he just needed to recover from the St Patrick’s Festival...