Golding responds to questions about place of birth Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Opposition Leader Mark Golding on Saturday responded to questions raised this week about his nationality, declaring himself to be a “born Jamaican” in a social media post.

“I am a born Jamaican and have a Jamaican passport,” Golding wrote.

The Opposition leader had previously stated that his father was born in the United Kingdom and on Saturday said “I’ve never hidden the fact that my father, who came to Jamaica from the UK, had got me a British passport when I was a young child”.

Golding said he has travelled on his Jamaican passport from before he started serving in government (he served as Minister of Justice in the Portia Simpson Miller-led Administration from 2012-2016 and before that in the Senate). 

The Opposition leader was forced to respond after St Catherine South West Member of Parliament, the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Everald Warmington, urged him to state publicly whether he was a British citizen.  Warmington argued that Golding had a moral obligation to do so, given his recent support for dual citizens being allowed to sit in the Jamaican Parliament.

The question of whether Golding had British citizenship surfaced this week as he continued to push for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to be made Jamaica’s final appellate court.

However, the government has insisted, as part of the constitutional reform process, that replacing the Monarchy and King Charles as Jamaica’s Head of State would have been addressed in the first phase of the process, while the issue of the CCJ replacing the UK Privy Council would be considered in phase two.

However, Golding had argued that both should be done together, as it should not be a case where Jamaica has “one foot in and one foot out of King Charles’ yard”.

Following his comment, there were calls on social media on Friday for him to declare whether he had dual Jamaican and British citizenship.

Warmginton had insisted that Golding should answer the question so that Jamaicans may evaluate his posture concerning the issue of dual citizenship and the island becoming a republic.

Although citizens of the Commonwealth can lawfully sit in the Jamaican Parliament, Warmington argued that since he aspires to lead Jamaica, Golding had a moral dilemma if he was also a citizen of Britain.

“Like other Jamaicans, I apply for visas from countries such as the US and UK to go there.

“I man born yah, but the Local Government Elections and recent polls seem to be driving some to grasp at straws,” Golding stated Saturday.

Golding also addressed the constitutional reform process in his social media post. He noted that Jamaica’s current constitution requires Commonwealth citizens to have at least one year’s residence in Jamaica in order to be eligible to be a parliamentarian.

“Over the years, parliamentary candidates with Commonwealth passports have therefore legitimately participated in general elections to become MPs and sat in the Senate,” Golding said.

He noted that the current constitution also prohibits non-Commonwealth citizens who have pledged foreign allegiance from being parliamentarians.

Several JLP MPs who previously held dual Jamaican and US citizenship were forced to renounce their US citizenship and contest by-elections in order to remain in the Parliament. Both West Portland MP Daryl Vaz and Warmington renounced their US citizenship in 2009 and 2011 respectively.

Golding said the constitutional reform process should reconsider the current rule and make it accord with the realities of the Jamaican experience.