July 31, 2018
Opposition Leader denies receiving invitation to CCJ celebratory cocktail

Leader of the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Dr Godwin Friday says that he was not invited to a cocktail at the Beachcombers Hotel which was held by the government to celebrate Justice Adrian Saunders’ elevation to the presidency of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press statement on July 27, claiming that all members of the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) were invited to the cocktail through invitations which were hand-delivered to the NDP’s General Secretary Tyrone James on Wednesday, July 18.

On Monday, Dr Friday denied this stating that James never received any such invitations.

The cocktail followed a special ceremonial sitting of the CCJ (at the House of Assembly in Kingstown) on Friday, July 20, and vice-president of the NDP St Clair Leacock and NDP Senator Zita Barnwell were the only NDP politicians present at the celebratory function.

“We did not receive an invitation…for whatever reason I did not receive an invitation and neither did most of the members of the NDP,” Dr Friday commented via telephone yesterday.

He said that when he realized there was a cocktail to celebrate Justice Saunders and he and other members of the NDP were not invited he was taken aback and confused.

“The impression we got from the outset was that we were being excluded, but maybe they had an explanation, because they put out an explanation saying that the invitations were sent to us,” Dr Friday commented.

He said that the ministry’s statement claims that the invitations were given to James, but when he (Dr Friday) checked with James, he was told that he never received any invitations to the event.

“He received invitations, but not for that function,” stressed Dr Friday, who noted that he understands that vice-president Leacock and Senator Barnwell received personal invitations.

The ministry’s July 27 release criticized one media house for publishing an article with comments made by NDP Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste in which she stated that members of the NDP were not invited.

“…the Ministry of Foreign Affairs further wishes to advise that the invitations issued for the said reception were indeed hand-delivered to Democrat House, Headquarters of the New Democratic Party (NDP), on Wednesday, July 18, for the attention of all Honourable Members of the parliamentary opposition. It should be noted that one of the ministry’s office attendants upon arrival around noon at Democrat House on the said date, hand delivered the invitations to a gentleman later identified as Mr Tyrone James,” said the release.

It further went on to state that the ministry denounces any attempt by persons to “inject partisan politics into this national event.”