While NALIS has claimed the UNC-led People’s Partnership was blanked for use of facilities at the NALIS building on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain because of a policy about the use of government buildings and because of concerns that the UNC’s launch would have disrupted the operations of the building, an e-mail sent by NALIS executive director Annette Wallace to NALIS public relations officer Debbie Goodman, revealed otherwise.
“Please be advised that on the advice of the Honourable Kennedy Swaratsingh, the use of the Audio Visual Room by the People’s Partnership scheduled for May 14 2010 at 10.30 am is to be cancelled immediately and all monies paid in relation to the matter by Ross Advertising is to be refunded immediately,” Wallace wrote in an e-mail dated May 12.
On May 13, on the eve of the People’s Partnership manifesto launch, for which the coalition had already booked and paid a deposit, NALIS issued a press release at about 5 pm stating the party’s application for the use of the library building had been rejected.
“The withdrawal of the use of the Audio Visual Room is in keeping with the established principle on the use of government buildings during an election period (between Nomination Day and Election Day),” Goodman said in the release. “Additionally, the time indicated for this event would severely disrupt the normal functioning of the library and the offices in the National Library building.”
Further, on May 14, NALIS issued another release explaining why it had accepted the UNC’s booking for the use of the room but only cancelled at the last minute.
“After the public announced that the launch would take place at the National Library, NALIS was inundated with calls from members of the public wishing to attend,” NALIS said in another release sent out by Goodman. “Large uncontrolled crowds converging at the National Library would have severely disrupted the normal operations of the library, particularly as there are hundreds of students using the facilities to prepare for their upcoming exams. NALIS exercised cautious judgment in the circumstances.”
“Also the initial booking of the facilities was an administrative error on the part of the Authority, since in keeping with established principle, the use of government buildings to host political events is not encouraged during an election period,” the release issued on May 14 read.
Amidst allegations that the PNM Government was behind the cancellation, Government members protested that NALIS falls under the Ministry of Information, which is now housed at Nicholas Towers, Independence Square, Port-of-Spain. Swaratsingh’s ministry is currently housed at the NALIS building. However it remains unclear whether he had authority to give advice on the use of the building. The role of Swaratsingh was not referred to in any release by the NALIS.