Friday, January 19, 2018

Cabinet to meet on Greyfriars

Galy: I bought a property, not a church...

Port of Spain businessman Alfred Galy said he is prepared to continue holding his hand since the status of Greyfriars Church will be discussed at Cabinet tomorrow.

He also said he purchased a property and not a church.

Galy claims he has been labelled “the villain of the plot” since he resumed demolishing the building on Frederick Street early Sunday morning.

While the demolition crew knocked down the northern wall and proceeded to remove the roof from the historical edifice, Dr Nurah-Rosalie Cordner, adviser to Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel, attempted to block the backhoe from further demolition.

Cordner has continued to call on Galy to desist from further demolition because it was a grave injustice to the country’s architectural heritage. 

Interviewed at his office yesterday, Galy said, “We are having a discussion with ministers in Cabinet on Thursday. It is going to be discussed by all the ministers. I have a great deal of respect for Samuel, it was one of the reasons I stopped the work when I saw him on the site. I would have continued with the demolition if I had not seen the minister. The conditions for settlement will have to be ratified. The country and the citizens and everybody will benefit.

“I stopped the operator because I did not want any damage done to Dr Cordner. I have a great respect for life. I read the Express was not an act of faith, it was an act of recklessness. I could take her to court for trespassing, but I won’t do that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Galy said he has to contend with blows from social media. 

“Contrary to what is being said, I did not come like a thief in the night. I got there early Sunday morning when there was less traffic. I bought a property, I did not purchase a church. The building was an eyesore. Vagrants were carting off pieces of lumber. This Greyfriars impasse has gone viral. Everywhere I go people are saying, ‘look  the man with the church’.

“People are not afraid to say which side they are on or not. My family in England and friends all around the world are calling me and asking me if I am a scamp, but my DNA says I am a Trini. I am loyal to my country. My legacy will speak for itself,”  he stated.

Cordner said Galy’s actions indicated the need for a wider scope of discussion about heritage sites.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Cordner said, “I want the discussion to be about the country’s heritage and legacy. Greyfriars might have been the spark, but there is a bigger conversation. Even in the matter going to the Cabinet, if any decision is to be made, whether it be transfer it, it is the public purse of Trinidad and Tobago that would be involved.”

Responding to Galy’s comment that he purchased a property and not a church, she said: “There is a graveyard and a cornerstone that identifies it as a church. It will be listed as a church. It may not have had an active congregation at the time he purchased it.”

And publisher Donna Benny, who tied the knot with photojournalist Mark Lyndersay at Greyfriars in 2000, said: “I am a little saddened about Greyfriars. I would have hoped they would have been able to work something out. However, I am mindful the church was sold and there is a new owner.

“It shows the importance of keeping our heritage sites in good condition rather than waiting for an unfortunate impasse. We have to respect Galy’s rights as the new proprietor, nevertheless, it is a sad event in the country’s annals.”