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Daly Bread: Accountability gymnastics from National Security and TTGF

Murder, murder everywhere but certain elites continued blindly to cling to the status quo and sections of the business community uttered platitudes.

Then, as the murder count soared past 500 with a multiplicity of murders, the Government finally “did” something. That something was a whole day meeting with the heads of law enforcement. Sadly, this meeting seemed nothing more than accountability gymnastics.

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds (third from right) talks to police officers in the vicinity of the Rose Hill FC Primary School on 3 November 2022.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

The blurb about the meeting, which accompanied the obligatory photo-op, contained a reported “understanding” from the Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, that “there is public fear and trauma over the ‘crime crisis’ and its implications on tourism, investments and international opinion”.

Hallelujah! He is getting there slowly, and very painfully for us. He had previously been reported in February as stating: “my duty is not to ensure that people feel safe and secure”.

The Minister also reportedly spoke of “the gun crisis” but did he utter one word about what urgent action the Government now intended to take concerning the operations of the ports under its control and through which the guns have been regularly passing?

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds shows off a destroyed firearm during a TTPS exercise on 26 November 2022.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

Those defective port operations are one of the signal failures of the Government, which cannot be excused by the worn-out spin of digging at the police “with whom we cannot interfere” and of “we are about policies”.

That spin was used again last week. It was reported in the Trinidad Express newspaper that Minister Hinds “said that the Government has ‘policy positions’ that it shared with the Top Cop and his team and also inquired what the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) needed to enhance their capacity in the crime fight”.

Commentators frequently ask about policy positions and try to be heard above the roar of personal attacks and what one commentator, albeit in a different context, described as “using racially infused aids in the political arena”.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(via Ministry of National Security)

I have frequently lamented there is nothing on offer by way of socio-economic reform, which might build greater equality of opportunity and objective justice, as well as diminish the prevalence of contact and corruption. The Prime Minister now explicitly accepts, as quoted in the Trinidad Newsday on 2 November 2022, that “the murders are the end of all kinds of socio-economic conditions which this Government has been responding to.”

What is the Government’s response? What is the policy to treat with the socio-economic degradation of many communities? What are the “family services” available for at-risk youth, who are reduced to gun fodder, that is a bunch of potential “soldiers” expendable in gang activity?

I ask again why is the Anthony Watkins-led committee’s report on Community Recovery still being kept secret?

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley shows off his community recovery team of Anthony Watkins, Hans Des Vignes, Jamaal Shabazz, Curtis Toussaint, Akosua Edwards, Nicola Harvey, Chris Leacock and then Community Development Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly in 2020.
(via Dr Keith Rowley)

That Committee’s appointment was announced when the 2020 General Election was close. The announcement followed a serious incident of community unrest triggered by a police involved killing of three persons in Morvant in July 2020.

Meanwhile my pro-bono client, Thema Williams, finally got paid her damages owed by the Gymnastics Federation, which the Court awarded her in 2018. This was achieved through the public spiritedness of the lawyers who appeared for her in the recent enforcement proceedings at my request.

The Gymnastics Federation again opposed her claim and again failed. The Federation then turned around and made unconvincing statements of admiration for Thema.

Trinidad and Tobago international gymnast Thema Williams.
Photo: Allan V Crane/ Wired868

The moral bankruptcy of the relationship between Governments and organizations that they fund are a cause for concern. The current Minister of Sport had dismissed Thema’s litigation as a private matter.

Mere days after the Court awarded damages to Thema, the Minister took part in a photo-op presenting cheques totaling TT$899,736.65 to 15 sporting bodies—one being the Gymnastics Federation who had treated Thema with toxic bias.

The Federation, which hurt Thema and angered the country, continued to receive subventions from the government regardless of its established bias and unpaid debt to Thema. Were those subventions used to fund trips abroad for the Federation officials?

Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) vice-president Suzanne John-Babooram and former vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue (left) pose with a mascot at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games.
Lue Shue was TTGF vice-president and coach of gymnast Marisa Dick when the gymnastics body controversially replaced Thema Williams from the Rio Olympics.

In the recent enforcement proceedings, Court made reference to a trip for the Federation’s Vice-President to Turkey scheduled for next month.

Instead of now saying that the Federation loves Thema and trying to look nice, Mr Christopher George, the president, should disclose what trips abroad members of the executive have made on subvention/donor dollars during the four years since the judgment on liability was given.

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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One comment

  1. Does Daly understand how T&T sport is funded?
    Does Thema?
    Do either of them care?