Saint Lucia
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Farewell My Good and Faithful Friend

Life has a strange way of bringing people together. Whether in times of adversity, of need, or of familial or organizational connections. In the process, such interface more often than not metaphors into a life-long relationship.  Those lasting impressions may be cultivated by way of a constant warm greeting, a helping hand with a sincere and loving heart, or a demonstrated level of interest in one’s well-being.

The politics and governance of this nation in the late 1970s created an opportunity for me to participate and interface with some of the era’s distinguished politicians: John Compton, Henry Giraudy, George Mallet, Allan Bousquet, Gregor Mason and Ira d’Auvergne. I was young and inexperienced then, but the old guard made me feel welcome and important, thereby helping to bring what I never suspected I had in me. Having been returned to government in 1982, I joined the team of the United Workers Party, charged with the responsibility of rescuing Saint Lucia from malaise inflected upon it during the aforementioned period.  

Ira d’Auvergne (right) passed away on 1 June 2023. He served in the Compton administration as Minister for Agriculture and as MP for Anse-la-Raye/Canaries.

Last week we lost another stalwart, in my opinion a giant of a man. The end of the journey for each of us will be encapsulated with diverse public views or long-held personal opinions. The passing of a friend, a mentor, a supporter and defender, has far reaching consequences for those left behind. Like the footprints on the sands of time, those who walk into your life’s orbit and by dint of sincerity and goodwill remain friends to the very end. So was Ira. His goodness and charity knew no bounds. A willing helper, once it was within the sphere of his knowledge, wisdom and competence. He was an astute politician with unmatched institutional memory, one who bridged the generational gap with ease and comfort. You would know if you’d earned his favor, for you’d be referred to as “my chum,” “my good fellow,” “chief” or “young man”—regardless of your age. This was the level of respect and camaraderie one would receive from this particular honorable gentleman.  

Ira d’Auvergne was slow to anger, easy of address and hardly would he show his displeasure or disagreement, certainly in the fashion now commonplace, in and out of our parliament by our current politicians. I recall my first stint as presiding officer during a sitting of Parliament. The butterflies were mixed with air bubbles and the opposition, though few in number, was ready to take advantage of my nervousness and inexperience. Up came an opportunity and the next thing I knew, the member for Anse la Raye/Canaries was on his feet protecting the inexperienced presiding officer. The matter was settled and the proceedings of the House continued.

This unassuming and guarded man with a strong personality was never a show-off. He was never driven by ostentation. Ira d’Auvergne was tailored to rise to any occasion, giving of his best at all times. Notwithstanding his retirement from active politics, Ira made himself available to all who sought his counsel. He never lost hope in the vision of a brighter and better Saint Lucia for all. He abhorred the tribal political divisiveness, avarice and insincerity that have shadowed, if not plagued, the current-day politics of our country. He was a fighter who never gave up. He remained true to the cause, and loyal to the very end, even when he had been intensely disappointed by those of whom he expected better.  

Ira, my friend, you fought a good fight. You were loved and respected even by your political opponents. Though death is inevitable, still I regret your passing. I will miss you. May you rest in peace. To your survivors, I offer my sincerest condolences.