A PROMINENT business figure who is a member of the DUP has been appointed to lead the body which will take forward controversial plans to redevelop the Maze prison site.
Terence Brannigan, chairman of Glentoran Football Club and a former Northern Ireland chairman of the CBI, has been appointed by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Ten other board members of the Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation were also announced yesterday – among them former PSNI assistant chief constable Duncan McCausland, Queen’s University pro-vice chancellor Tony Gallagher and East Belfast Partnership chief executive Maurice Kinkead.
Mr Brannigan said that it was “a huge honour” to be appointed and said that, at twice the size of the Titanic Quarter and four times the size of Canary Wharf, there was “enormous” potential for the 20-year project to create something significant for Northern Ireland.
He said that its location “on key transport corridors with 750,000 people within a 30-minute drive” meant that it was “very attractive to potential investors”.
Mr Robinson said he was “confident” that the board members would help transform the site and Mr McGuinness said they were committed to “maximising the economic, historical and reconciliation potential of the site”.
Current plans to redevelop the site near Lisburn will see one of the notorious H-Blocks preserved and a “conflict transformation centre” built, something which unionists have long opposed.
Despite the DUP’s confirmation yesterday that Mr Brannigan is a member, the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) statement announcing his appointment said under the heading “political activity”: “None declared.”
Unusually, the statement also did not say which party other members of the board belonged to, even though one, Joe O’Donnell, is a former Sinn Fein councillor. The statement simply said that his political involvement was: “Donations to a [unnamed] political party”.
Another board member is Lisburn DUP councillor Paul Stewart, but no reference was made to his party.
Normally, Executive statements about public appointments make clear where an individual has a declared political activity.
For instance, a Department of Health press release in February about the appointment of two non-executive directors to the Public Health Agency board stated clearly that both appointees were DUP councillors, and just two months ago a Department of Justice press release about the appointment of a trustee of the RUC GC Foundation even noted that he was a former member of the DUP.
When asked why OFMDFM had departed from this practice, a spokesman said that he would find out but had not responded at the time of going to press.
The other board members are Ciaran Mackel, Kenneth Cleland, Dr Conor Patterson, John (Jack) Gallagher and Prof Terri Scott.