National Security Minister and United National Congress chairman Jack Warner's call for Independent Senators to do "the honourable thing" and resign as a result of the proposed change of Presidents— from George Maxwell Richards to Justice Anthony Carmona—was described as "a piece of ignorance" by former independent senator Martin Daly SC.
Daly also remarked that Warner was raining on the Prime Minister's parade with his comments, which he made in a television interview yesterday morning.
In an interview with the Express yesterday, Daly said the appointment of Independent Senators by a President was not personal appointments.
"They are not like butlers, cooks, chauffeurs or secretaries," he said, adding that the Independents were not there to serve the President personally.
"Once appointed they are there to serve the Parliament and the country, not the President's interests."
Daly said they were appointments made by the Office of the President and their purpose is to serve the Parliament and the country.
"It is not accidental that the Constitution provides that their term of office expires upon the dissolution of the Parliament because the framers of the Constitution anticipated that subject to good health and good behaviour, they would be there for the life of the Parliament."
Daly said the use of the word "honourable" to describe the idea that they should resign "is a piece of ignorance because it is only the honourable thing to resign when you have done something dishonourable. So you resign (in those circumstances) to dilute or ameliorate the dishonour that you have done. Therefore it is particularly offensive to put in the minds of the population that these people who have done nothing wrong, now have to do the honourable thing. That is just a piece of ignorance."
He said he was speaking from the perspective of someone who understood how the Constitution and public law worked.
Daly recalled that the same furore arose when former president Sir Ellis Clarke handed over to Noor Hassanali in 1987 during the NAR administration.
"Been there, done that! And the public which was sympathetic to the NAR at the time was very disturbed and remember there was talk of amending the Constitution to permit this (the Independent Senators to demit office with the President who appoints them). So we are raking over old coals."
Daly lamented that no sooner had the Government and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in particular done something which has been applauded by the entire population, regardless of every creed and race, then all of these mouthpieces are raining on her parade.
"It is a tremendous rain on her parade to raise up this non-existent issue. So all they (the Government) would do is anger a population to whom they temporarily brought to a state of consensual joy.
"No sooner the country was pleased about the appointment, which had the element of near-cooperation (between Government and Opposition) and consensus, once the Opposition Leader said the PNM had no problem with Justice Carmona, that was a particularly joyful parade on which this man (Warner) is raining," Daly said.
Daly said he was very happy with Carmona's nomination.
He said the first good thing Justice Carmona would do is to send back the letters of resignation if he gets any.
Daly was appointed an Independent Senator by Sir Ellis (in 1986), remained in the Senate after Hassanali was appointed, was reappointed by Hassanali and he continued to serve during the tenure of Arthur NR Robinson as president.