Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has admitted that there is an outstanding situation with regard to the proper job title and position for Derrick James as a diplomat in New York and gave the assurance that “what is wrong will be fixed.”
More than one year ago, James was named by the ruling New National Party (NNP) Government as Grenada’s Honorary Consul in New York. His status is yet to be regularised and accepted by the US State Department.
State Department records revealed that the last person to serve as Consul General in New York was Allan McGuire, whose service was terminated when the National Democratic Congress was elected into office in July 2008. Four years later the NDC administration terminated James’ service, upon receipt of a letter from the US State Department seeking clarity on James’ claim as a diplomat for the island.
In 2013, James was named Honorary Consul for New York by NNP Government Legal Affairs Minister, Elvin Nimrod. It is understood that Government received a letter from the State Department about James’ use of the title of Consul General versus Honorary Consul. As a United States citizen, James does not meet the requirement to hold the Consul General diplomatic post.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nickolas Steele said on Friday, that he was not aware of any recent communications sent from the US State Department regarding James’ status and concerns over his continuous claim of having the title of Consul General for Grenada. According to Steele, James is presently in Grenada having requested time off to attend to the needs of his family, presently in bereavement.
A former diplomat who prefers not to be identified said, “those positions are totally different diplomatically although they sound and appear to be same. To start with, a Consulate General is a paid diplomatic post with great responsibilities and the person holding that title cannot be a citizen of the country where the office is based, so there is no way that a USA citizen can be the Consul General for Grenada in New York,” she said. “Honorary Consuls are normally not paid but receive some kind of stipend, and they are a referral point to assist citizens of the country whom he or she represents.”
By Linda Straker