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5-day funeral for Robbie

By CLINT CHAN TACK Friday, April 11 2014

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MR PRESIDENT: A five-day funeral, incorporating activities in both Trinidad and Tobago will be held for former Prime Minister and President ANR Robins...
MR PRESIDENT: A five-day funeral, incorporating activities in both Trinidad and Tobago will be held for former Prime Minister and President ANR Robins...

FORMER President and Prime Minister Arthur NR Robinson will be laid to rest at the Scarborough Methodist Cemetery next to his beloved wife Patricia, following a State funeral which will take place over a five-day period, either from April 24 to 28 or April 29 to May 3. National Security Minister Gary Griffith made this announcement at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in St Clair.

Mrs Robinson died on September 2009. She was buried following a funeral service at the St Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Scarborough. Robinson, who died on Wednesday at age 87, is to be buried next to his wife in the same cemetery on the fifth day of the State funeral being arranged by Government in consultation with his family.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said funeral arrangements similar to those used for former South African President Nelson Mandela are being contemplated for Robinson. Persad-Bissessar attended Mandela’s funeral which took place over a ten-day period from December 5 to 15, in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Qunu, South Africa.

Griffith said Persad-Bissessar appointed a special committee, “to plan a proper State funeral befitting the calibre and contribution of the former President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.” Disclosing that that committee held its first meeting under his chairmanship at the OPM at 8 am yesterday, Griffith said he was grateful for the attendance of Robinson’s daughter Ann Margaret. Robinson’s son David is expected to arrive in the country over the weekend. Griffith said Robinson’s family also requested that Colonel Ellis Robinson be included as a member of the committee.

Other members include Foreign Affairs Ministry permanent secretary Margaret Parillion, the Chief Protocol Officer, representatives of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Police, Defence Force and the Ministries of National Security, Trade and Communications.”

Stating funeral arrangements should be finalised by Monday, Griffith said, on the first two days of the five-day funeral, Robinson’s body will lie-in-state either at the Parliament Building, International Waterfront Centre or the rotunda of the Red House.

Griffith said the committee was to meet with House Speaker Wade Mark later in the day yesterday to discuss the suitability of both venues. Told by reporters that the new Parliament Building lacks a rotunda and may have parking and traffic issues if Robinson’s body is lying in State there, Griffith stated that Mark, “has assured us that those things can and will be put in place.” Whichever venue is chosen, Griffith said, special guests, dignitaries and ordinary citizens will be allowed to pay their respects by filing past the flag-draped, closed casket from 6 am to 6 pm on the first two days.

Newsday understands Caricom leaders and other foreign dignitaries are expected in TT for Robinson’s funeral. Griffith told Newsday that list is “being compiled” so the necessary logistics can be put in place. Sources said one of those dignitaries may be former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

On day three, Griffith said, the first funeral service for Robinson is tentatively scheduled to take place at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain, adding that Robinson’s body will be transported by a military cortege from Clark and Battoo’s Funeral Home to NAPA, “along a route to be lined by members of the protective services and uniformed groups.” Following the service, Robinson’s body will lie-in-state in NAPA’s eastern lobby to allow persons to pay their last respects.

Stating he has been closely liaising with THA Chief Secretary Orville London about the funeral arrangements, Griffith noted Robinson’s body will be flown to Tobago on day four. On that day, it will lie-in-state in the Assembly’s Legislative Chamber in Scarborough between 6 am and 6 pm. On day five, a thanksgiving service will be held in Robinson’s honour at a venue to be announced. Robinson’s final committal and burial will take place at Scarborough Methodist Cemetery, “with full military honours.”

Asked whether Government has any other plans to honour Robinson, Griffith said this will be determined by the outcome of discussions between Persad-Bissessar and Robinson’s family. A condolence book will be opened at the Parliament Building today from 1 pm to 4 pm.

MPs are expected to pay tribute to Robinson today when the House of Representatives sits at 1.30 pm. Griffith said additional condolences books will be available to the public for signing from April 14 at the THA’s Legislative Chamber in Scarborough, all foreign diplomatic missions in the country and at the Port-of-Spain City, San Fernando City, Chaguanas Borough and Point Fortin Borough Corporations.

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