The Hon Roy McTaggart JP, MP
The Leader of the Opposition and Political Leader of the Progressives
The Leader of The Opposition’s 2021 Christmas Message
As we enter the Christmas season, the story of the birth of Jesus plays a prominent part in our church services and our personal reflection.
At its heart, Jesus' birth is a story of love – the love of Joseph and Mary for each other and for God. And, of course, God's love for us.
During his lifetime, and even at his death and resurrection, the theme of love was at the centre of everything Jesus said and did. And he constantly reminded us to love each other just as he loved us.
This Christmas, as we take time to relax and spend time with those we love, please remember those less fortunate than we are. Many in our Islands are struggling this Christmas and could do with a little bit of compassion and care. Many are still suffering, financially and mentally, from the effects of the pandemic.
So, look around your neighbourhood and reach out as best you can to someone facing a bleak Christmas. It does not have to be financial help, the gifts of caring and time are often the best gifts of all.
Perhaps a neighbour has lost a loved one, and a kind word or invitation to join you for Christmas lunch would help bring some respite from their grief.
Perhaps they are in hospital over the Christmas, and a visit or a phone call to let them know you care would be a massive lift to their spirit.
Or perhaps they are financially strapped – a supermarket gift card could be of immense help in putting a meal on the table.
These may seem like small things, but they are gifts of love and caring, and nothing is more important to the human spirit.
Keeping our collective spirit and determination strong is an absolute necessity as we continue fighting the virus and rebuilding our lives and livelihoods.
We started this year hoping to move away from the pandemic quickly. I certainly recall hoping that with God's grace and with the vaccine that our lives would be much better by this Christmas.
On the surface, it might not seem that we have made progress. Yes, we have undoubtedly had setbacks in recent months, but despite that, there is much to be hopeful for this Christmas.
Last Christmas, the hope of the vaccine was still then only a 'hope'.
As the year began, we had access to one of the best vaccines available. And for that, we must never forget the help of the United Kingdom in providing us with the much-needed vaccine doses.
The last government and the present one ably supported our excellent health professionals who did phenomenal work getting our people vaccinated and protected. I thank our Health professionals and the more than 56,000 people who have received both doses of the vaccine to date. Thanks too to the 13,000 or so who have taken up the boosters.
These historic efforts will protect our people and our country. That’s why I encourage you with all my being, for more of you to do your part and get both doses of the vaccine; and as soon as you can, please get your booster.
We continue to see new variants of the virus emerge. Whilst we are just starting to understand the full impact of the Omicron strain, its confirmed presence here along with the Delta variant should make us all very wary. The double vaccine dose and the booster, together with maintaining a healthy immune system, are still our best weapons against the worst of COVID-19.
A high vaccination rate, including a high rate of booster shots, is critical as we continue to open to visitors as well as to control the community spread of the virus.
Christmas for me is a time of reflection and being grateful for the blessings of the past year. Despite the pandemic, our blessings are many.
Family too, is important to me, and in July I was specially blessed with the birth of my third grandchild, Mary Jessica. The title ‘grandpa’ is one of the proudest titles that I wear.
Public office is hugely rewarding and brings blessings in many unexpected ways. So, I am grateful for the re-election of myself and my Progressives colleagues at the general elections early in the year.
On a personal note, this will be my third term serving as a Member of Parliament and I thank the constituents of George Town East for their continued confidence in me. It is an honour that I take seriously.
Members of Parliament perform many important duties but amongst the most solemn is attending the funerals of our people. We often spend time with families and share in their grief. Though painful, it is an honour to be asked to participate in a family's farewell to a loved one.
This year, we have lost so many of our people, and on Christmas day there will be many empty chairs at dinner tables across our three Islands. Let us take a moment to remember those friends and loved ones who have passed on, and let us also pray for those that they left behind and who are grieving.
In closing, my colleagues and I, and our families, wish every one of you a joyous and blessed Christmas. And I implore you to be careful and follow public health protocols as you celebrate the festive season. The pandemic is still very real. And let us not forget our many first responders who have worked tirelessly to provide the best of care and keep us all as safe as possible.
Merry Christmas to you – and may God continue to bless our beautiful Isles and our wonderful people.