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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government Robert Montague wants to draw Maroon councils into the formal Local Government structure.
Speaking recently at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new Westmoreland Parish Council building, Montague said he intends to meet with Maroon council heads in December 2010 to discuss the issue.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government Robert Montague (centre) is about to break ground for the construction of a new Westmoreland Parish Council Municipal building. He is flanked by MP for Western Westmoreland Wykeham McNeil (left) and Savanna-la-Mar Mayor Bertel Moore.
“Come next month, we will be sitting down for the first time in consultation with the Maroon Council chiefs because I have recognised the Maroons as a legitimate part of the local government structure,” said Montague.
“And they (Maroons), within their own community, have a structure that is dealing with their issues and I believe it is full time we bring them into the formal system and let them be a part of the local governance structure in this island,” he added.
Jamaica’s Maroons are broadly characterised as the descendants of slaves left by Spanish colonisers after the British overran the island in 1655, as well as the descendants of slaves who escaped from the British plantation system.
The Maroons are famous for their sustained guerilla warfare against the British during the 17th and18th centuries. In the 1730s, agreements between the British and the Maroons are said to have guaranteed the latter sizeable parcels of land.
There are now formal Maroon communities in the Cockpit Country on the St Elizabeth/Trelawny border as well as in St Mary and Portland.
Montague revealed that the new Westmoreland Parish Council Municipal building is projected to cost $15 million.