Maze revamp will be 'shrine to peace'

Published Wednesday, 24 April 2013
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First Minister Peter Robinson has dismissed claims the Maze redevelopment will become a terrorist shrine as "scaremongering garbage".

Maze revamp will be 'shrine to peace'
The First and deputy First Minister with Terence Brannigan. (© Pacemaker)

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.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
30 Comments
men in moon wrote (582 days ago):
if its going ahead can we put the plans for the stadium back on
Ryan in Belfast wrote (582 days ago):
Its clear that what is annoying loyalists about this Maze project is the fact that TENS OF THOUSANDS of tourists from all over the world will flock to the Maze site, to see and hear about Bobby Sands and the Hunger strikers. Whether loyalists like it or not, the hunger strikers are apart of our history and can not and will not be editted out. The story of the hunger strikers will be told and let people make their own decisions on who was right and who was wrong. Theres statues of the hunger strikers all around the world, in Australia, Republic of Ireland, Cuba, USA, Canada, etc theres streets named after Bobby sands in France, Italy, Iran, Cuba, USA, etc. When Bobby sands died, the Indian parliament held a minute of silence because of his death out of respect. Loyalists have got to realize that people hold a different opinion to them and dont see the world or people in the "loyalist/Unionist" way.
Tommy in Co Antrim wrote (582 days ago):
Marty in Singapore - I have a teenage daughter who has grown up in the relative peace of the last 15-20 years in N. Ireland. She and her friends know little of "the troubles", probably won't have heard of "the hunger strikers" and could care less about it all anyway. The last thing I would want her going to visit is the site of the former Maze prison that housed some of the sickest blood thirsty individuals of the last 30 years, and most decent parents probably feel the same. It's pretty clear from reading these posts that only a small minority of republican supporters want to see this "conflict resolution centre" built at this sit, and are virtually in a frenzy about it already. If it has to be bulit it should be built on neutral ground in Belfast away from any site that could become a "terrorist shrine" where young people could actually learn about our tragic past.
danny hunter in antrim wrote (582 days ago):
if it had been 10 loyalists that died on hunger strike there would be no talk of a peace reconciliation centre the maze would of be flattened years ago
Vee in Belfast wrote (583 days ago):
Mike Lurgan in Lurgan - And if no-one wants to visit it as a museum, what makes you think people would want to shop or even live in the area? Get Real!!
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