Trinidad, region say goodbye to Patrick Manning

patrick manning funeral 1

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Sunday July 10, 2016 – The life of former Trinidad and Tobago prime minister Patrick Manning was honoured yesterday in a State funeral at which hundreds shed tears, but also smiled and even laughed, as family and close friends shared their memories and spoke about his accomplishments.

The tributes that began when Manning died on July 2, just a day after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood and bone marrow cancer, were reiterated and expanded at the three-hour service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the twin-island republic’s capital.

There were also calls for his legacy to be honoured through the revival of CARICOM and creation of a fund to assist CARICOM Member States.

Delivering the eulogy, his son, Brian Manning, proposed a fund in honour of his “hero”.

“My father lived a life of love and service, not focused on the accumulation of wealth but where the world was left a better place, and no other reason. My father was my hero,” he told the congregation that included local and regional politicians, regional officials, and supporters of the People’s National Movement (PNM) which Manning led up until 2010.

“I would like, with the approval of the government of Trinidad and Tobago, to establish at the International Financial Centre a fund designed to finance the construction of homes for low-income earners region wide, in recognition of my father’s spirit of generosity and support for our Caribbean neighbours.

“This fund will appropriately be called the Patrick Manning Development Fund and would be made accessible to every member of CARICOM and also, include our brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and, of course, Cuba,” he added.

President Anthony Carmona added that it would be a “committed gesture to his legacy” if CARICOM leaders resuscitated the integration movement “charted by Mr Manning’s vision of the Caribbean as being a potent force on the world stage”.

For his part, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley described Manning as one of Trinidad and Tobago’s finest sons, who made public service honourable.

“[He] must have heard what John F Kennedy had said – ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’. He answered that question, even to his last,” he said.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who visited Manning in hospital a few days before his death, was one of several regional leaders and dignitaries who travelled for the funeral. Others included St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet, Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, former prime minister of Grenada, Tillman Thomas, The Bahamas’ former leader Hubert Ingraham, and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin La Rocque.

Gonsalves, whose friendship with Manning began in the 1960s when they attended the University of the West Indies Mona Campus, spoke of the love he had for his “real tight political buddy” and fellow August-born, and criticized those who had turned on the man who gave decades of service to the twin-island republic and the region.

“I loved him very much,” he said.

Following the service, there was a private ceremony for Manning’s family and his body was cremated at Belgroves Funeral Home in Tacarigua, in the East-West Corridor of the country.

Although Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Stuart Young said last Thursday that Manning’s family had requested that his body find its final resting place at the Holy Trinidad Cathedral and government was “in conversation with the Anglican Church”, Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley told reporters yesterday after the funeral service that the request did not come from the Manning family.

“This has come from different persons but is now represented by arms of the State,” he said.

Berkley also noted that there was a section of the church grounds for ashes but none for burial.

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