Eddie Palmer spent seven years on St Helena as the British government’s adviser – and only seven weeks after he left, it’s been announced that he is coming back.
At the time of his departure – apparently for good – it was reported that no one had been found to replace him as the island representative for the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID).
Now the island government has announced that he is to return temporarily on 29 July 2013, “following the withdrawal of the selected candidate for the post.”
When he left in April, he said he and his partner, Liz, had “really enjoyed the place” and would keep an eye on it from afar.
He has now said he is delighted to be returning. “I think this also demonstrates DfID’s continuing commitment to the economic development of St Helena,’ he said.
On 17 June 2009, Eddie was praised in the House of Commons by MP Mark Lancaster, who had recently visited St Helena. Mr Lancaster’s praise did not extend to Eddie’s employers:
“Although the relationship has improved in recent years, thanks mainly to the sterling efforts of the DfID’s island representative, Mr. Eddie Palmer, DfID is, unfortunately, still widely viewed with suspicion on the island.
“DfID is seen as a micro-managing organisation that has sent a stream of consultants to write reports that recommend actions that are never implemented due to lack of funding.”
Eddie was also praised by ex-governor Andrew Gurr in a talk he gave to the Friends of St Helena in May 2012. He said:
“Eddie was my favourite adviser for all sorts of reasons. Eddie filled a big gap because DfID provided the money and Eddie understanding what was going on and influencing what was going on and being consulted on decisions was absolutely essential.
“The need for a man in that role, or a woman, who is a shrewd political operator and understands the culture, is absolutely paramount. It will be a sad day for the island when Eddie finishes his long term, probably later this year.”
Eddie is likely to remain on-island until around the end of October 2013.
The news of his return may well win the approval of one of his relatives, Rob Palmer, who contributed the following message to Eddie’s page on the Bebo social networking website:
“Fair one old boy. ps bring me back old St Helena notes as mad heads buy them for double their value on eBay!”
LINK: Eddie Palmer praised in Westminster (Hansard report)