Chairman of the Dr Eric Williams Memorial Committee Reginald Vidale yesterday called on the State and family of Prof George Maxwell Richards to consider a public viewing of the late president’s body in Tobago. Richards, Trinidad and Tobago’s fourth president, died of a heart attack on Tuesday at the West Shore Medical Centre. He was 86.
A team was subsequently set up to plan a three-day State funeral. On Monday, Richards’ body will lay in state in the state from 10 am to 6pm at the Parliament Tower, International Waterfront Complex, Port-of-Spain. On Tuesday, the late President’s body will be transported at the head of a funeral procession through the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine campus with the body returning for public viewing at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain.
His funeral service takes place from 10 am on Wednesday at the NAPA. However, Vidale yesterday complained that Tobagonians have been left out of the arrangements.
He suggested Richards’ body can be taken from Belgrove’s Funeral Home in Tacarigua to the Eddie Hart Grounds opposite where it can then be airlifted to the Shaw Park Cultural Complex in Tobago, which has a large carpark.
He said Tobagonians can then pay their final respects to the late Head of State at the facility.
“The casket can be taken into public viewing from 9 am to 12 noon and can then be returned to Port-of-Spain via the same route, only that the helicopter would land in the (Queen’s Park) savannah and then taken to NAPA for public viewing from 1 to 5pm,” Vidale said.
Vidale said Richards had a special love for Tobago. ‘I am making a special request of the planners of the State funeral that Tobago be included. He loved Tobago and its people. He loved a good line at Pigeon Point and Tobago must not be excluded from the arrangements. “I must state that it must always be remembered that a President is President of the people he served and not the Parliament.”
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young, who spoke about the funeral arrangements for Richards on Wednesday, could not be reached for comment.