• January 18, 2016


Local Authority member Ian Davison, whether he meant to or not, has thrown a giant ripe tomato on to the door mat of government house by asking how Captains of the Parish are appointed and suggesting in this day and age surely there should be a semblance of democracy around the process.

His move comes following the appointment of Allan Corlett to replace John Kennaugh who died last year. Captains are appointed by the Lt Governor on a ‘grace and favour’ basis and Government House not being much in the limelight lately and usually only on stand-by to deflect the periodic attacks from nationalists, either verbal or physical, seemed taken aback.

A spokesperson said:

‘This is an ancient military office now almost wholly honorific.

‘Historically the position of Captain of the Parish was given to the largest landowner in the parish and the Lieutenant Governor would consult with the Department of Agriculture and others as to who should be selected. However in recent years this practice has ceased and the Lieutenant Governor has consulted others connected with the relevant Parish together with the President of Tynwald, First Deemster etc as to suitable candidates for the position.’

Well I don’t know who appoints spokespersons at Government House but the first rule they should be taught is say as little as possible when controversy arises. In essence what they are saying is ‘yes there is a process and we made it up’.

It makes you wonder where else this happens probably with Deemsters to I’d warrant.

The recently ‘beatified’ candidate Alan Corlett is from a well known Peel family and is heavily involved in the lifeboat organisation in the town so no doubt Mr Davison will get a bit of stick from the new ‘Captain’s troops’.

However Davison is perfectly right to raise the issue as it is only about ten years since the government turned the whole structure for appointments on its head saying that all appointments needed to be open, democratic and had to be Human Rights compatible.

Does it matter? Let’s think about that statement ‘This is an ancient military office now almost wholly honorific.’

Well that may be so but the Captain (if he/she is minded) can play a significant role.

One of Allan Corlett’s predecessor’s last public outings was a meeting in St Johns over the controversial silt dump. I don’t think it’s to great an exaggeration to say that on that occasion the late John Kennaugh saved the governments bacon by proposing a compromise from the floor which the majority in the meeting were prepared to accept. So they (Captains) can have an influence on controversial issues. Of course the Captain also has a critical role in the democratic process at election time when he/she chairs meetings etc.

Whether, in querying the appointment of Corlett, Davison makes himself popular is a moot point but he did the right thing in pointing to an anomaly where the Manx version of ‘the great and the good’ get together and appoint folk to titular roles from among themselves.

What exacerbates the situation here is that the ad hoc ‘appointments commission’ consisted of the Lt Governor, President of Tynwald and the First Deemsters all ‘unelected jobsworths’ in their own right.

Paradoxically, I feel a little sorry for the Lt Governor. Adam Wood has been so low profile as to be almost invisible – now he may with just weeks of his Office ending go out on a roll! The new Captains ‘lifeboat’ background could come in handy he could organise one (metaphorically speaking) for the Governor!

Nice one Mr Davison!

Photo: Captain’s turning out for Tynwald Day


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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