While the Lower House saw immediate clashes between the government and the opposition, the first sitting of the Senate proceeded with little to no bother.
Christine Kangaloo was nominated and appointed unopposed as President of the Senate while Nigel de Freitas was allowed to reprise his role as Deputy Vice President in the Senate with no fuss made.
The day’s otherwise routine proceedings for opening day was marked mainly by returns, with several of the senators taking their oaths returning from the 11th Republican Parliament.
It also confirmed the return of two former Members of Parliament who played no role in the Red House over the past five years –
Dr. Amery Browne, who held the post of Diego Martin Central MP from 2007 to 2015, and Anil Roberts who resigned as Minister of Sport and D’Ababie/Omera MP in 2014 under a shroud of controversy caused by a financial audit into the Lifesport project.
The D’Abadie/O’meara seat remained vacant in the Parliament until the 2015 General Election as a result.
Despite a high court ruling which stated the audit had been conducted unfairly, and in the process clearing Roberts and the then Ministry of Sport Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed of wrongdoing, public response to his appointment to the Senate was widely negative.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar defended his return, stating that currently there was no criminal case for which Roberts had to answer for currently.
“I’m not aware of any of the members being under investigation,” said the Opposition Leader in the Red House rotunda during the lunch break of Parliament yesterday.
Persad-Bissessar made brief reference to the 2016 ruling by Justice Mira Dean-Armorer.
“The matter with Anil Roberts, the entire report, there was nothing in that audit report which made any allegation against Anil Roberts or found him guilty of any such behaviour. There was a court matter, it was not Anil Roberts who brought the court matter,” she said, “the matter was brought by Ashwin Creed, the PS, challenging the validity of a report that was not based on natural justice.”
She again reinforced that based on the reports, Roberts was not guilty of criminal activity.
“Anil Roberts was nowhere implicated in the report itself, nor did Anil Roberts have to go to court to get the report thrown aside. So to the best of my knowledge, he is not under any police investigation,” she said.