At a Special Sitting of the 2022-23 Session, the Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, MP was elected as Speaker of the House of Parliament, and the Hon. Dwayne Seymour, JP, MP for Bodden Town West as Deputy Speaker today, 25 November 2022. The election for a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Parliament was called following the resignation of former Speaker, the Hon. W. McKeeva Bush, JP, MP for West Bay West, in October 2022.
The session began with prayers read by the Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton MP, JP, followed by two MPs nominated for the role of Speaker: the Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, MP for West Bay Central, and Sir Alden McLaughlin, MP for Red Bay. Two MPs were nominated for Deputy Speaker: Hon. Dwayne Seymour, MP for Bodden Town West and Hon. Barbara Connolly, MP for George Town South.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr Martyn Roper, received the oath of allegiance from the newly-elected Speaker, the Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks.
In accepting the position as Speaker of the House of Parliament, Hon. Ebanks-Wilks expressed her gratitude to the elected members and commitment to fulfilling the expectations required of the role, stating:
“It is an honour to have been selected by my fellow Parliamentarians to serve in this esteemed role of Speaker of the House of Parliament. I am deeply humbled and immensely proud to have been chosen and I commit to restoring the dignity of this role.”
This is the first time a female has been elected as Speaker of the House since the Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, MP for Cayman Brac East, was elected and served in the role from 2013-2017.
The Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton JP, MP, congratulated the Honourable Speaker on her much-deserved election and spoke to her suitability, and confidence on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government that she will serve in this role with distinction:
“On behalf of the Government and people of the Cayman Islands, I wish to extend congratulations to Hon. Kathy Ebanks-Wilks on her election as Speaker of the House of Parliament. Her legal training and past 18-plus months as Deputy Speaker give her a solid foundation from which to take up her new responsibilities as Speaker. She has a vision for a more efficient Parliament, one that is digitally enabled and more accessible to the general public,” said Premier Panton.
“As the fifth female Speaker, Hon. Ebanks-Wilks builds on an illustrious tradition of powerful, capable Caymanian women in leadership roles. With our first female Chief Justice being recently appointed, and now with the election of the new Speaker of the House, as Minister with responsibility for Gender Affairs, I am proud that we have strong, Caymanian women presiding over two of the three arms of Government, those being Parliament and the Judiciary. Today is an historic occasion and stands as a testament to our progress towards gender equality in the Cayman Islands,” added Premier Panton.
Other Government business included a motion moved by the Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton for a Change in Membership of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). As per the motion, Speaker Hon. Ebanks-Wilks is replaced by Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Joey Hew, MP.
The next Meeting of the 2022-23 Session of the House of Parliament is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 7 December 2022.