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(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana) The Caribbean Community mourns the passing of the Rt. Honourable Sir Eric Matthew Gairy KCMG, Trade Unionist, former Prime Minister of Grenada who passed away on Saturday evening 23 August 1997.
Sir Eric Matthew Gairy emerged at a time on the political landscape when under-representation of the masses was characteristic of the social, cultural and political institutions of the Caribbean. He articulated, like his regional contemporaries Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley of Jamaica, Clement Payne of Barbados, Vere Bird of Antigua and Barbuda, Robert Bradshaw of St. Kitts and Nevis, and Uriah Butler of Trinidad and Tobago, the concerns of the common man at a time when the people sought desperately to have their grievances heard and addressed and, most importantly, when they demanded the political franchise.
Though history can be unkind in its conferral of greatness, it cannot fail to record the achievements of Sir Eric in its annals. In this regard, we must acknowledge Sir Eric’s pioneering role in the development of the democratic party system of governance in Grenada. For it was he who through his stewardship was able to establish the first trade union, the Grenada Mental and Manual Workers’ Union (GMMWU), and the Grenada People’s Party (GPP), the precursor to the Grenada United Labour Party, successfully taking the Grenadian electorate to the polls for the first time in the General Elections of 1951 under universal adult suffrage.
The Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, in his tribute to the late Prime Minister, states that “Sir Eric Gairy will long be remembered for the important role he played in raising the political consciousness of the Grenadian people and in instilling confidence in their capacity to effect change in the quality of their lives.” He also credited the late Prime Minister with engendering “a sense of self respect in the people of Grenada” in those formative years of their indigenous institutional structures.
Sir Eric Gairy was Prime Minister of Grenada for twenty-four years during the period 1951-1962 and 1967-1979. He leaves to mourn his two children.

Sir Eric Matthew Gairy was seventy-five years old.

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