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The speech, the old, the young, the unborn

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It is with no little satisfaction and a sizeable helping of humility that we can now signal the death knell for dark-tinted helmet visors and their mirrored cousins that also conceal identity.

The campaign that we have waged since the MoneyShop robbery in September and the response from the Opposition, and now the Bermuda Government by way of the Throne Speech, mean that sometime over the course of 2016, we can expect legislation that ultimately allows our residents to go about their everyday pursuits with a degree more comfort.

The criminals are still out there, lurking, we know they are. But the new legislation, when it inevitably comes, will make the job of the police in catching them more manageable; and perhaps allow them to be more proactive than reactive.

But, alas, Throne Speech 2015 was not all about helmets — hardly. It was about much more than that and, if the Government can effectively follow through on its promises, it gives us lots to look forward to.

Much of the focus is as it should be: on the old, the young and the unborn.

Our senior citizens are to be cherished. They represent so much of our history, fought so much for what we have now and deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, leaving nothing to chance in ensuring that they receive the best of care in their declining years.

The feeling of being left all alone is a helpless one; even more acute if the elderly are suffering from disabilities such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Moves to have decisions made in the best interest of those who are no longer capable of deciding for themselves and who have no one to turn to are commendable — as long as this proposed “Office of the Public Guardian” does so in the patient's best interest.

The Royal Gazette's exposure at the beginning of the year of the ill treatment of seniors in residential and nursing care has yielded dividends in spawning a promised strengthening of the Senior Abuse Register Act. Removing seniors from abusive situations and ensuring that caregivers fulfil the qualifications required are essential steps forward.

So, too, lowering the cost of drugs through whatever programme our government is of a mind to piggyback on so that vital medication is more affordable. The Bermuda Hospitals Board's long-term care pilot is just that, a pilot, and should be treated as “wait and see”.

The model of care may result in no more than effectively palming off seniors from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital to residential homes at lower cost. Which would be fine if the residential and nursing homes have been brought fully up to scratch. If not ...

On to our young people. They need our urgent attention. For the many who are excelling and either enjoying the possibility of further education, or are about to, there are just as many, if not more, who are falling through the cracks.

With the evildoers waiting in the wings to embrace the disaffected through affiliation into gang life and, in the case of our young women, into adult relationships before their time, the country's duty of care to the most vulnerable is immense and should weigh heavily on the hearts of our leaders.

Law reform to give sex offenders more than what have been criticised as slaps on the wrist is very welcome, although there is still no sign that the Government has the stomach for a sex offenders' register. Sorely needed, even in a place of only 21 square miles.

Aggressive education against an antisocial lifestyle from the early school years is essential, and the proposed use of the much trumpeted Stem programme at childhood and primary school levels greatly increases the likelihood that high school graduates leave with a degree of confidence in finding gainful employment, even if further education is not in the stars.

The right to vote is one of the greatest freedoms. What is being corrected now removes one of the longstanding contradictions: sending our children abroad for higher education so that they can become future leaders of Bermuda, only to deny them voting rights while doing so.

Closer to home, leaving school prematurely or without a discernible qualification, plus an obvious lack of social skills, has led to a significant disconnect and turned our young men, in particular, to the streets for acceptance and gratification.

We need to claw that back whereby the men of our future genuinely feel they have an obvious role to play, even if they have limited access to education beyond high school.

And looking much farther ahead, on behalf of the unborn, it is crucial for the generations to come that Bermuda can bring its books in order.

To be born into poverty is one thing, but to be born into abject poverty with the millstone of multibillion-dollar debt round your neck is quite another.

The early signs of economic recovery are encouraging but this progress must continue at pace for at least the next 18 months if we are to have any chance of breaking even by 2018-19. Or else, the America's Cup in 2017 would be but a memory, worse if Oracle Team USA does not successfully defend the “Auld Mug”.

So, those helmets; those annoying helmets. Words can do only so much and our stance by posting the offensive helmet-visor combination on the earpieces of the front page for the past two months was a silent protest of sorts to the powers that be that the Island's majority wants them done away with.

While this has upset some — the enablers, the fashionistas and possibly the criminals themselves — it is fair to say that the visors are far more trouble than they're worth and an example of how wantonly adopting the worst of other countries' habits or culture can contribute to societal decay.

The Progressive Labour Party was due to raise the issue at the next sitting of Parliament after the summer break, but with the Government and the Bermuda Police Service now seemingly on board in the wake of Friday's revelations, a smoother path to resolution has been created.

So, as was much heard throughout the Middle Ages, we say “off with their heads”. The helmets are removed today; our job is done. Now, as in all matters to do with Throne Speech 2015, it's over to the lawmakers.

Back to business: the Black Rod, acting assistant commissioner of police Darrin Simons, summons the Bermuda Government, members of the Opposition and other dignitaries to the Reconvening of Parliament and the reading of the Throne Speech on Friday (Photograph by David Skinner)
Cracking down on crime: the death knell has been signalled for dark-tinted helmet visors and their mirrored cousins that also conceal identity - a move The Royal Gazette has been campaigning for since the MoneyShop was targeted by robbers in September (File photograph)

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Published November 16, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated November 15, 2015 at 11:47 pm)

The speech, the old, the young, the unborn

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