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Senate to pay tribute today

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Senate, one of the many forums in which slain Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal left her mark, will pay tribute today to the former Independent senator, as many of her colleagues continue doing. Seetahal was killed early Sunday morning while driving along Hamilton-Holder Street, Woodbrook, when gunmen ambushed her, firing a hail of bullets. She was struck in the head and upper body. She died on the spot. Seetahal served as an Independent senator in the Upper House from 2002 to 2010. She was not reappointed to the Senate for the current tenth Parliament. Seetahal’s death is the second to have hit former members of the Independent bench. Former Independent, Corinne Baptiste-McKnight died in March of cancer.


Co-ordinator of the Independent bench, Helen Drayton, who is in California on urgent family business, served with Seetahal from 2007 to 2010. Drayton said in an e-mail on Sunday: “For Dana to have gone so soon and for her to have died this cruel way is especially painful. Her loss is beyond words.” “We sat on the Independent bench from 2007 to 2010, had maintained our friendship ever since, and she would often call me, voluntarily, to give her views on Bills before the Senate.” Drayton added: “Dana’s death is a serious psychological blow to T&T. She was a dear friend and while her loss is personal to me it’s a blow to the country at several levels. “In jurisprudence, in her practical explanations of the law to the man in the street, in her advocacy for social justice, as a reasoned voice on national matters of importance whether to do with the law, children’s matters, education, the economy, and not in the least, the quality of governance. “This brilliant, forthright lady loved this country with all of her heart. She served it well and her dedication, resoluteness and courage of conviction are admirable virtues. What a sad, traumatic state of affairs for her family and T&T. “The manner in which she has died sends more fear throughout the country. We must avoid speculation in these matters. Importantly, crime must not be politicised.


“We must feel a sense of strength and renewal in her death to put country before self and resolve to do what we can to change this country for better,” Drayton added. Holding for Drayton on the Independent bench today will be Senator Rolph Balgobin who will deliver some of the Independents’ comments. Former Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan, who served with Seetahal from  2007 to 2010, said: “It was with shock and horror I learned of Dana’s tragic and brutal assassination. “She was very knowledgeable in terms of legislation as (it) applied to the criminal aspects of the law. I always sought her guidance on these and other matters. I found her to be one of the best minds in terms of drafting legislation and the review of regulations in the area of crime. “While it was her forte, she didn’t limit her expertise and knowledge with her fellow Independents. She will be sorely missed. I extend deepest condolences to her family but beyond this, she is a real loss to the nation.” Former Independent senator Ken Ramchand wrote of her: “She was my friend...human and humane. “We talked a lot as Senators and after that we kept up a peculiar telephone relationship in which we gossiped about dislikes, shared thoughts about her work and mine, the state of the country, the condition of politics.


“She was rational and passionate. Being both of us hard-headed and rational on some subjects, we knew when to settle for a draw. We went long-distance walking once or twice. She came and tried padder tennis. We talked cricket, books, exercise and diet. I recall she wouldn’t try noni juice. “We went to her land once and ate oranges in the field. We shared mundane things. If weeks passed and we didn’t talk, she would call, warm as ever and it would be as if there had been no gap.” He added: “I respected her for the quality of her mind, the depth of her knowledge, her capacity for research and for finding out. A searching light. “She always gave a deep laugh when I told her I would accept to come as a senator again only when she became our first lady president. Depth, brevity, and wit were her hallmarks in all things. “I could never forget her strictness about language. When we talked about legal matters she would not hesitate to point out imprecision in speech or slackness of thought. She could ‘bouff’ without being unkind.” Fellow attorney Deborah Moore-Miggins knew Dana Seetahal since 1974, and their friendship had remained strong over the years. She was Seetahal’s roommate at the Cave Hill Law School Campus in Barbados. Moore-Miggins said they maintained contact over the years.
She added: “We spoke up to last week about property she was interested in here. Her mind was made up and she firmly intended to buy.


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