ENERGY Minister Stuart Young, speaking as Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, on Friday told the House of Representatives there would be no delay in the commission of enquiry (CoE) into the Paria diving tragedy, despite announcing on Thursday that its original chairman, Dennis Morrison, QC, had resigned for personal reasons.
Morrison, a Jamaican, and local sub sea specialist Gregory Wilson were appointed members of the commission on April 22, with former attorney general Ramesh Maharaj as lead counsel.
The enquiry will probe the tragic deaths of four divers trapped in a pipeline at Pointe-a-Pierre belonging to Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd in February. One diver got out, but efforts to save the others were ordered stopped by Coast Guard and Petrotrin officials as being too risky to the would-be rescuers.
Young told Thursday's post-Cabinet briefing that Morrison had been replaced by Jamaica-born Jerome Lynch QC.
Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee on Friday posed an urgent question asking what delay might be caused by Morrison's resignation.
Young replied, "There is expected to be no delay in the commission of enquiry. In fact, I took the precaution of speaking to Jerome Lynch just before coming to Parliament this afternoon, and confirmed with him that he will be able to stick to the timeline of August procedural hearings commencing."
Young said he had also contacted Wilson and the commission was still on schedule.
"Mr Lynch will be sworn in, in the shortest possible time frame. Those details are being worked out now."
Young said the Government could not dictate to the commission or seek to influence its outcome.
At Lee's request, Young then read out Morrison's resignation letter – dated June 14 – in which the former chairman apologised for his resignation, which he attributed to "entirely personal reasons."
Replying to a supplemental question from Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, Young said the commission could opt to continue to use the services of a specialist firm to assist it.