Basseterre, St. Kitts, Tuesday, 12th November, 2019, (MyVueNews.com) – The people of the British Virgin Islands are today in mourning, following the death on Monday, 11th November, 2019, of their first Premier, Ralph O’Neal.
In a public statement, shared with the media on Tuesday, 12th November, Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, praised the late premier for his outstanding service to the people of his territory and the wider Caribbean.
Harris said, “The Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal OBE was an inimitable fixture in Caribbean politics and a flag bearer for the economic resiliency and prosperity of small islands.”
While reflecting on what he described as O’Neal’s remarkable legacy, Harris added that, “We in St. Kitts and Nevis can count ourselves honoured to be inextricably linked to the Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal OBE, as he spent some time at one of our elite schools, which served him well as a stepping stone to greatness.”
In his early life, the former BVI Premier received his education at St. Mary’s Anglican Elementary School in Virgin Gorda and the St. Kitts-Nevis Grammar School in St. Kitts.
As Premier, O’Neal was responsible for a large swath of development in the BVI, added Harris, who said it spanned a diverse range of infrastructure and other capital projects, including clinics, police stations, roads, and schools.
Indeed, just about every fabric of modern-day BVI society bears his thumbprint,” the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis added, while also noting that O’Neal’s VIP administration was responsible for the awarding of Crown lands that resulted in many BVI residents building their first homes.
O’Neal OBE, died yesterday, Monday, November 11th, 2019 at the age of 85 years old. He was born on December 15th, 1933 in Virgin Gorda, BVI.
The Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal OBE became the British Virgin Islands’ first Premier (2007 – 2011) when the BVI adopted a new Constitution, which introduced a cabinet style of Government that saw the Chief Minister position replaced by and renamed Premier.
He was credited as being one of the longest-serving Members of Parliament (1975 – 2015) in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The BVI House of Assembly voted on October 18th, 2019 to rename the Central Administration Building after the Hon. Ralph O’Neal OBE.
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis extended deepest condolences to the Hon. Ralph O’ Neal’s beloved wife, Reverend Edris O’Neal OBE and four children, as well as to their extended family and the people of the BVI who join them in mourning his passing.
Photo Caption ( L ): St. Kitts – Nevis Prime Minister The Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris
Photo Caption ( R ): Former BVI Premier The Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal OBE