William and Thelma McWeeney, father and mother of Sean McWeeney Q C
Sean McWeeney with Pope Francis when served as our country’s Ambassador.
Sean McWeeney served the country as Attorney General, Senator and Diplomat, after a young life as an activist. Recently Oswald Brown wrote about the early days of the PLP when Mr. McWeeney’s father William wrote under the nom de plume “ The Sandfly” in the PLP run Bahamian Times paper. We copy and paste from the Bahamas Chronicle Mr. McWeeney’s reprise on his father:
NASSAU, Bahamas, June 30, 2022 — I hope you’re well. It’s been a long time. I’m delighted Sir Franklyn has hooked us up.
In answer to your questions: My father, William Thomas McWeeney (1920- 1999), was a keen supporter of the PLP from its birth in 1953 until his death in 1999. In the beginning, he was closely associated with H.M Taylor, a fellow Roman Catholic, who he also knew from his (my father’s) initial years in The Bahamas (1945 – 1949) in Long Island as a missionary with the Catholic Church (he was being prepared for the priesthood and had passed through a number of seminaries in the US before being posted here).
I know that my father wrote political speeches for H.M in the early years of the PLP. Later, my father grew closer to the (more radical) NCPA wing of the Party, of which I know you were an important part. He became particularly close to Arthur Foulkes (not coincidentally another Catholic) and other NCPA figures like Jimmy Shepherd, Milo Butler Jr., Bazel Nicholls (with whom he was closely associated in the City branch of the PLP), and I. G. Stubbs.
Later, he became very close to Beryl Hanna, with whom he shared a deep interest in Socialist thought and, more mundanely, political intrigue as well! Many a day they would be on the phone for hours at a time. (Incidentally, both AD and Beryl Hanna, in later years, were fond of telling me that they regarded my father as the first authentically white person to support the PLP).
Be that as it may, my father’s close association with the NCPA wing of the Party led to his becoming a columnist for the fledgling Bahamian Times newspaper, which had set out to replace The Herald as the voice of the Party. He wrote political satire under the pseudonym, “Sandfly”. He did this for quite a number of years, lampooning anti-PLP elements in the country, especially Etienne Dupuch and the Tribune. He also spent time helping out in the editorial room of the Bahamian Times, proofreading, etc. I suspect that that is where you got to know him. He did all this, unpaid of course, in his off-time as he was then still with Nestle’s (which had its main offshore operation here).
I know that my father was deeply disappointed over the 1970 split in the Party. Although his main friendships were with Foulkes, et al, he never wavered in his loyalty to the PLP and remained a party member until his death. Next to the Catholic Church, for which he would hold a fervent lifetime devotion, the PLP and the Nassau Public Library — the forerunner to the modem Archives Dept and as such the main repository of historical records back in the day, of which he was a Trustee for many years — were the two main institutions of interest to him in his life here in The Bahamas. (He would later write a weekly column on Bahamian history for the Nassau Guardian for more than a decade).
I should add that books, books and more books were my father’s main source of nutrition! He read incessantly and had insatiable intellectual curiosity about so many different things. He was also fluent in Latin and classical Greek and routinely wrote in these languages at home when composing notes that he didn’t want us to read!
Along the way, of course, my father had married (in 1950) my mother, Thelma nee Cox, the daughter of J.V. Cox, the Crown Surveyor, who had immigrated here from his native St Lucia in the late 1920s, and his wife, Pearl Cox nee Clarke (daughter of George H Clarke of Savannah Sound, Eleuthera, who at his death in 1926 was the senior Resident Justice/Commissioner in the Family Islands, and his wife, Eugenie Clarke nee Bowleg, a native of North Andros and a direct descendant of the Black Seminoles, runaway slaves from Florida and the southern states, who had found refuge there in 1821 and stayed.
My parents produced a brood of 8 — in rapid succession, too — as Catholics were encouraged to do back then!
Happily my mother is still alive. She’s 92 now. My mother, I should say, was never into the PLP, or politics for that matter.
Incidentally, my father had politics in his own blood. His father William D. McWeeney, who disowned him after he married my mother, was a prominent member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives for quite a number of years, from the late 1930s well into the 1950s, I think.
I hope this helps with what you were asking about. Sorry, if I went off on a tangent here and there. That’s how it is sometimes: one reminiscence bumps into another one, and before you know it….
Each day we wake to find the slaughter of some young men in this country by gun violence. The number now exceeds 60 for the year, 8 in one week. It appears that there is an unending slaughter. No one seems to know how to stop it. But every day, there is some report of someone being gunned down: sometimes at night, often now in broad daylight in front of family and friends. We seem impotent to do anything about it. So it’s just another day in a life. There is a new Commissioner of Police taking over on 5 July. We hope he has a solution but the public will increasingly turn to the new day government to do something about this frightening situation.
Paul Adderley, the late former Government Minister, used to say: “ It is better to do something than to do nothing.” We agree as it relates to the National Insurance Fund. The experts have warned us from as long ago as the first Christie government that the fund was being depleted faster than it was being replenished. This along with the fact that monies were being siphoned off on the drug programme without a funding mechanism and the aging populations with not enough new births, has the fund in crisis which could hit, if not addressed, as early as 2028. Yet with all that stark evidence before it, you have these nit wits arguing that nothing should be done. Shamefully one of them is the union leader Kemsley Ferguson who opposes increasing the contribution rate and opposes increasing the retirement age. In other words we must do nothing, then when it goes broke, he will complain that we did nothing. Duane Sands, the FNM Chair got into it and here is the PLP’s response from Chairman Fred Mitchell
It appears that the press in the country have nothing better to do than adopt this puerile and sterile argument of the FNM that the PLP government is travelling too much. As the sea level rises around The Bahamas, the FNM would have you sit in The Bahamas and wait until it’s around your neck one supposes before we cry for help. No responsible government can do that and certainly the PLP will not. So the Nassau Guardian and the FNM can take their advice on that point and stick it.