Former RUC officers unhappy Maze plans shelved not scrapped

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A body of former RUC officers has expressed its “dismay” that plans for the Maze peace centre have been shelved rather than scrapped.

Responding to Peter Robinson’s announcement on Wednesday – that he has decided to block any further progress on the proposals – the Armagh branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Association said it amounted to no more than a “lukewarm moratorium”.

Branch chairman Tom Gorringe said it “was with some dismay “they heard of the DUP’s decision to withdraw its support.

“The dismay was in the manner of the withdrawal. Far from being unequivocal, it was merely a lukewarm moratorium.

“At some stage the realisation must dawn that militant republicanism is not about to become the sweet voice of reason and undertake to take into consideration the views of innocent victims.

“Perhaps we could give a lead in being unequivocal.

“The buildings at the Maze should be delisted and demolished.

“The Maze regeneration project should become a solely commercial venture without any sort of shrine, either intended or otherwise.”

Mr Gorringe said he believed such a move would allow the focus of attention to switch to how we define a victim.

“The legal draughtsmen could concentrate their minds on specific exclusions, such as members of criminal terrorist organisations who should be afforded the same respect their victims received.

“It is long past the time when victims should be given the principal say on projects of this nature.

“How would a peace and reconciliation centre benefit innocent victims of terrorist atrocities? Had they been asked in the first place, good sense would have prevailed and this whole sorry mess could have been avoided.

“True peace and reconciliation is built on mutual trust and respect beginning with political institutions and filtering down to wider society.

“Evidence of this is sadly lacking ... are we content to condemn another generation to make the same mistakes all over again?” Mr Gorringe added.