N Touch
Wednesday 19 June 2019
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Changing of the guard

REVOCATION of the appointment of Edmund Dillon as the Minister of National Security – coupled with Friday’s formal issuing of an instrument of appointment to Gary Griffith as the new Commissioner of Police – represents a changing of the guard at the highest levels of the national security apparatus.

Whatever the reasons behind Sunday’s developments – and that 12.24 am media release yesterday from the Office of the Prime Minister – the confluence of both events reflects two hard realities. Crime remains at unacceptably high levels. And new approaches are required.

This perhaps is the message behind the appointment of Stuart Young to the hot seat of national security. His predecessor enjoyed the relatively rare status of being one of the longest-serving ministers of national security since Martin Joseph under Patrick Manning.

No matter how serious the murder situation became, and even amid questions stemming from a court case in a foreign jurisdiction, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley declined to go down the path of his predecessor Kamla Persad-Bissessar who, during her five-year tenure, had five successive ministers in the post.

But steadfast confidence only goes so far. The figures have always been hard for the Prime Minister to dodge. Last week’s shocking murder of a clerk employed by the Parliament, of all places, marked yet another previously unimaginable escalation of a situation which, according to some sources, has seen murders increase by about 45 per cent since 2015.

Young, a lawyer by training, does not have a military background. However, he has acted in the portfolio at several crucial moments. Concern has been rightly raised over the multiple portfolios he now holds. There is definitely room for refinement of his multiple roles.

Be that as it may, one of Young’s first tasks will be the closing of the deal with Griffith, whose contract is, bafflingly, yet to be finalised. It has been reported that Griffith will have to, somewhat awkwardly, await the expiration of the tenure of an acting official, Stephen Williams, before fully taking up the post. If this is indeed so, it is deeply unsatisfactory as it represents an immediate undercutting of the authority of both men.

In this regard, it is not clear why contract terms – which Griffith has stated are irrelevant to him – should still be in limbo, especially since the Government’s passage of the motion approving him would have been well known to all of Cabinet. There are rumours and conjecture about dissent in the ranks, and the timing of the revocation of Dillon’s appointment has raised eyebrows.

But speculation aside, what is clear is that the whole of the Government’s approach which was expected in this instance was not effectively realised.

For now, like Griffith, we wish Young best of luck. The nation hopes both officials will be successful in a matter that is literally one of life and death.

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