Maze revamp will be 'shrine to peace'

Maze revamp will be 'shrine to peace'

First Minister Peter Robinson has dismissed claims the Maze redevelopment will become a terrorist shrine as "scaremongering garbage".

Mr Robinson made the comments as he and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness attended the unveiling of plans for the Peace building and Conflict Resolution centre (PbCRC).

It was announced on Wednesday that the redevelopment will see a £300m investment and the creation of 5,000 jobs, with 2,000 jobs created in the development phase of the project.

Nine construction companies and 24 material suppliers are already on site after Environment Minister Alex Attwood gave the project the green light last week.

The future of the Maze site has been a controversial topic, with some unionists claiming any development would become a "terrorist shrine".

This building will only be a shrine to peace.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

The prison site, just outside Lisburn, closed 13 years ago - two years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement saw the release of paramilitary prisoners.

Home to many high-profile republican and loyalist inmates during the Troubles, the prison was where the IRA hunger strikes of the early 1980s were staged. They led to the death of 10 men and made headlines worldwide.

On Tuesday, the UUP, TUV and UKIP launched a petition against the development, calling for the prison buildings at the Maze to be de-listed and demolished and for the peace building to be relocated.

A victims' group, including relatives of some killed by the 1998 Omagh bombing, has also called for the centre to be relocated.

But Mr Robinson dismissed concerns at the launch, saying: "There will be no shrine to terrorism, no glorification of terrorism, at Maze Long Kesh."

He said that any proposed script telling the story of the Troubles at the centre would be told with "sensitivity to victims of terrorism".

Mr Robinson added: "It will be, I hope, a beacon of hope to the rest of the world that people can climb out of conflict and move towards a peaceful and stable society."

I am acutely conscious of the sensitivity of this site, but Maze Long Kesh is already changing.

Terence Brannigan, Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation Chair

At the launch, the chair of the Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation focused on the future business potential for the project, which is being labelled 'Northern Ireland's largest development site'.

Terence Brannigan said: "We have already had significant international interest shown in developing the site and we anticipate that global investors will be excited about what is an unprecedented development opportunity."

The space - which has also been used as a World War II airfield, a motor racing circuit and a military camp - is twice as large as the Titanic Quarter and four times the size of Canary Wharf, at 347 acres.

The new Peace building and Conflict Resolution Centre, together with the conserved buildings, equal less than 30 acres of the total landmass.

The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society's Balmoral Show, which will relocate there in May, will occupy up to 65 acres.

Mr Brannigan concluded: "I am confident that, out of a troubled past, we can find a way to create a legacy of work, prosperity and peace for generations to come.

"The Maze Long Kesh site has changed and will continue to change and, in doing so, will create a better future for all of our citizens as an attractive and vibrant place to live, work and learn."

Work is expected to begin on the PbCRC before the end of the year.


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