Former president and prime Minister Arthur NR Robinson, who died on Wednesday, will not begin lying in state in Trinidad until just over two weeks from now on April 29, after which he is to be laid to rest in Tobago on May 2.
The details were revealed by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar and National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday.
“His (Robinson’s) body will be held by the funeral home as has happened with others, of course. So he will be safe and sound in peace there,” Persad-Bissessar told reporters yesterday, after she signed the Robinson condolence book at the Parliament building in Tower D of the International Financial Complex, Port of Spain.
According to a release from the National Security Ministry, the funeral home is Clark and Battoo.
The State funeral dates were first disclosed by Griffith, who is the chairman of the special committee comprised of Government representatives and members of Robinson’s family who are planning the state funeral.
“It has been confirmed that the funeral would take place on Saturday the 3rd of May, in Tobago and the five-day period that I spoke about, that five-day funeral; it will commence on the 29th and the 30th of April, that is where the body will lie in state,” Griffith told TV6 News.
The committee decided against the April 24 to April 28 period that was also under consideration .
Persad-Bissessar told reporters the original intention was for the five-day state funeral to have been held “sooner”.
“But there are a lot of Heads of States and other international persons who would to come to Trinidad and Tobago for the funeral so keeping in mind the activities here, keeping in mind the wishes of the family to give people sufficient time to come to Trinidad and Toabgo, that seems to be the most appropriate date,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She further said: “As you know, we have the Easter weekend in Tobago, which is a very busy time. We have the Jazz Festival and in consultation with the family, of course with the pastor there, a Methodist pastor in Tobago and others in Tobago it seems that will be the most appropriate.”
During her tribute to Robinson during yesterday’s House of Representatives sitting, Persad-Bissessar said: “The committee set up to plan the funeral arrangements, I am advised that they have in consultation with the family of the late Mr Robinson, that on Tuesday, April 29th and Wednesday April 30th during the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., his body will lie in state at the rotunda at the Red House.”
The Red House, which is now undergoing a major renovation, is where the lying in state of the republic’s first president, Sir Ellis Clarke, and its first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams, occurred after their deaths on December 30, 2010 and March 29th, 1981, respectively.
Persad-Bissessar told the Lower House that a State funeral service will be held in honour of Robinson on Thursday, May 1.
It is to be held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) building in Port of Spain.
“And, thereafter, following this service, the body of the late Mr Robinson, will lie in State at the lobby until 3 p.m. at the lobby of the NAPA until 3 p.m., and members will be afforded the opportunity to pay their respects,” Persad-Bissessar told the Lower House.
Persad-Bissessar also announced Robinson will lie in state at the Legislative Chamber of the Tobago House of Assembly on Friday, May 2 May from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“And thereafter a service of thanksgiving in honour of his life will be held on Saturday 3rd May, 2014 in Tobago,” Persad-Bissessar said .
She told reporters there is an ACS (Association of Caribbean States) and Caribbean Community (Caricom)/Mexico Summit which is taking place on April 28 to 29.
“We are now liaising with the Caricom Secretariat to see whether on the return of those Caricom Heads from the Mexico Summit, whether they can come through Trinidad and Toabgo which will be on the 30th (of April) and, therefore, for their attendance on the 1st (of May),” Persad-Bissessar said.