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Penny’s dad in her corner
One sure vote which People’s National Movement (PNM) leadership contestant Pennelope Beckles-Robinson can count on is that of her father, Lionel Beckles. The 84-year-old Beckles, who attended Wednesday’s press briefing where his daughter announced her candidacy, said he had been a PNM member for a “long, long time.” He added: “Penny’s mother died ten years ago and with this campaign I have told her I will be going all over wherever she holds meetings to support her. I feel good about her effort. Penny has always been a responsible girl from very young.” Beckles said his daughter had one sister and four brothers.
Beckles-Robinson, noting her father’s career with the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), said she had lived through the revolutionary days of Bloody Tuesday, including watching police come for her father during those times. She was referring to the labour unrest in 1975 when the major unions representing oil workers and sugar workers marched in San Fernando and were met by brutal police resistance. This unrest became known as Bloody Tuesday. Dr Paula Mark, who chaired Wednesday’s briefing, outlined Beckles-Robinson’s career from her childhood days in Borde Narve Village outside San Fernando.
Mark said Beckles-Robinson got her first glimpse of politics when village council meetings were held in her parents’ home, which housed a politically active family. Mark said Beckles-Robinson’s leadership qualities rose to the fore early, starting with her position as head girl at St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, and as president of the Hugh Wooding Law School Association. Also present Wednesday were Beckles-Robinson’s husband Noel Robinson, Barry Garcia of the Preserve the Balisier Group, which is backing Beckles-Robinson, and several female members.