SOUTH East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) remains consistent in its opposition to the preservation of the old hospital wing of the Maze and the proposed capital build of a ‘Conflict Transformation Centre’.
The Lisnaskea-based victims group is deeply frustrated and disappointed at learning that the First and Deputy First Ministers have signed off on those to be appointed to a Board charged with overseeing the Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation.
It appears that against the expressed wishes of those who would be most affected by this proposed development, a ‘political deal’ has been done to push ahead.
We are saddened but not entirely surprised that the views of innocent victims have been cast aside. The policy of maintaining the current political status quo and preserving a policy of carve up-carve out appears to take precedence over everything else.
Let us be 100% clear, the preservation of buildings which housed hardened criminals and the proposed development of a newbuild CTF is not about an investment in peace building. Rather it is about giving cover to a republican movement which must be seen to be delivering for its constituency.
Those who were incarcerated within the Maze and other prisons, due to their terrorist and criminal activities, have always been held up as ‘heroes and martyrs’ and it is that falsehood and misguided romanticism which is being invested in by a Government more adept at appeasing wrong than recognising and rewarding what is right.
Our members within SEFF are adamant that no CTF should be developed at the former Maze prison site, nor should the former hospital wing be preserved.
This project is a betrayal of those innocent victims whose lives were taken by the actions of terrorists.
None of us can turn back time and prevent evil things from taking place but what we all have control and responsibility over is how those events are remembered and how the youth of today and tomorrow are educated in regards to those events. This is the issue at the heart of this debate.
Our organisation, along with others who represent the innocent victims of terrorism, are however willing to engage in a debate with others as to a more fitting location for a Peace Centre which, if developed for the right reasons, could act as a useful tool in educating today’s and tomorrow’s generation about the past and the importance of never allowing such events to grip Northern Ireland ever again.
On the issue of OFMDFM agreement being reached on the appointment of a single Victims Commissioner, SEFF believes that it is critically important that the individual appointed is afforded the opportunity to champion the needs of the victims’ sector and to challenge Government policy - not perform the role of a puppet for pre-determined policy outcomes.
This individual must command the confidence of innocent victims from across the community.
Director of Services