Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dyer-Griffith new Inspector of Missions

Former beauty queen and parliamentary secretary for Information Nicole Dyer-Griffith has been appointed Inspector of Missions at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

This was confirmed yesterday by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran.

The appointment is yet to be formally announced by the ministry.

Dookeran admitted the post has been "vacant for some time". Checks have revealed the post was last held up to 2010 by John Donaldson, former minister of foreign affairs and ambassador plenipotentiary under the People's National Movement administration.

Prior to Dookeran's confirmation yesterday, however, Dyer-Griffith, who holds the position of vice-chairman of the Congress of the People, one of the partners in the coalition People's Partnership Government, had staunchly refused to confirm or deny reports about her appointment.

Dookeran referred questions about the details of the appointment and the responsibilities of Dyer-Griffith, in her role as Inspector of Missions, to permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Margaret Parillon.

However when contacted, Parillon told the Express she was attending to personal business and could not say when she would be back in office.

Dyer-Griffith is the wife of National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister Gary Griffith.

She was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Information following the May 2010 general election, but was dropped from her post in July 2012 during a Cabinet-reshuffle by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Dyer-Griffith yesterday took issue over questions about her experience for the posting.

"It is interesting to note that there is talk of lack of experience when, in fact, I have worked in this ministry in the second highest position as parliamentary secretary.

"During that period I have represented the ministry at the highest diplomatic levels. I have also received cross-cultural training at an international training centre in Brussels. People will always say all kinds of things, but I have been trained in international protocol," she said.

She slammed her critics, saying: "Sometimes people tend to always see the glass half-empty, but that's not how I see it.

"What I find most interesting is that when ministers are placed in their positions, nobody asks what experience do they have."

The Express has learnt that chief among her responsibilities would be to visit the 14 overseas missions to get a sense of operational issues and to resolve matters that may be affecting the smooth running of the missions.

She is expected to hold the post for a period of three years, the Express has learnt.

Already there are several pressing matters Dyer-Griffith may have to attend to when she formally assumes her duties over the next few weeks.

They include the troubled T&T Consulate in New York, where eight employees with service ranging from seven months to 23 years were dismissed by Consul-General Nan Ramgoolam. This resulted in 14 nongovernmental organisations writing to the Prime Minister to request her removal.

It was less than a year ago when former head of the public service and senior diplomat Reginald Dumas, according to a Guardian report, called for post of Inspector of Missions to be reinstated when questioned about the dismissal of the eight employees.

He had said at the time an Inspector of Missions would be able to visit the New York Consulate and interview staff, as well as the head of mission, and get the facts with a view to an appropriate resolution of the matter.

Dumas could not be reached for comment yesterday.