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22 September 2023

Late Speaker of the Dominica Parliament to receive a State Funeral

Tag(s): Foreign Affairs, Law
When I was Chief Executive of NXT plc from 2000 to 2005 one of my most important executives was Geoff Boyd. Our principal technology was to create flat panel loudspeakers by using exciters to drive the panel. One particularly exciting application of this technology was to apply it to screens as in televisions and laptops. We called this application SoundVu. Geoff had the responsibility to exploit this technology and made huge efforts to do so. Geoff is one of those rare people who has both the technical skills to understand the technology and the marketing skills to understand its potential and seek to exploit it.  I particularly enjoyed working with him and we often travelled together to present the technology at conferences or to key potential licensees. Geoff and I have kept in touch, and he is still active in business in the USA where he holds a number of patents in various technologies.

Geoff comes from Dominica[i] and as I got to know him he proudly told me about his sister Alix who in 2000, the year i joined NXT, was named as the Speaker of the House of Assembly in that country. She served in this capacity for a record three terms over 20 years. Geoff told me this week that she had passed away on the 29th of August and most unusually will be accorded a state funeral. Making the announcement at the news conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit outlined some of the Hon. Alix Boyd-Knight’ major lifetime accomplishments.

“Alix Boyd-Knights was a distinguished Dominican attorney and women and children's rights advocate who served as Speaker of the House of Assembly from 2000 to 2020 when she was named Speaker Emerita. During her long tenure as Speaker of the House of Assembly, she executed her duties with passion and dedication. She was firm and no nonsense and insisted on upholding strict Parliamentary procedures and the rules of the House. Her approach to leadership in the House and as Chairman of the Parliamentary Women's Association served as a sound example for women seeking to fill similar leadership roles,” PM Skerrit stated.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the role that the late Speaker played in securing a suite of family related legislation meant to protect children and families.

“Speaker Boyd-Knights devoted much of her life's work to the defence of women's rights and the protection of children in our society. She advocated with the government over many years, for the strengthening of the laws pertaining to domestic violence, child maintenance and the status of our children; and I dare say she was very successful in this endeavour; and I am happy that we were able to bring five family protection laws to the Parliament during her lifetime. As Prime Minister, I held her in the highest regard personally and professionally. As political leader of the Dominica Labour Party, she was a valued colleague and counsellor, not only to the party but to myself as party leader,” he noted.

Prime Minister Skerrit said Mrs Boyd-Knights will be accorded a send-off befitting someone who was held in such high esteem.
“I treasured her sound advice on political matters and I'm thankful for her support of me and my colleagues over many years. I extend most heartfelt condolences to her family, her children and her grandson Senator Hon. Phillip Rolle who now serves as Deputy Speaker to the House of Assembly. As a former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Alix Boyd-Knights will be afforded a state funeral, and I am departing from the norm because of the high regard and her contribution to the country for over twenty years as Speaker of the House of Assembly.”

Mrs Boyd Knights was at one point nominated as a possible President of the Republic, but this was opposed by the opposition party. Nevertheless, her record stands without equal and demonstrates that in a region with a great deal of problems it is possible for the rule of law to be maintained with proper focus on parliamentary democracy.


[i] Dominica, a former British Colony, is in the Windward Islands, North East of Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean, and is often confused with the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the West.
 
 




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