Fresh Maze fears for victims

Security watchtowers inside the Maze prison.
Security watchtowers inside the Maze prison.

A victims umbrella group has renewed its call for a peace centre to be taken “permanently off the table” for the Maze while there is a chance it may incorporate prison buildings revered by republicans.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United was speaking after the UUP forced the Office of First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) to release a marketing strategy for the centre under the Freedom of Information Act.

The report, from consultants Colliers International, recommended that prison buildings where IRA hunger strikers were held and died should be incorporated into a visitor experience which could accommodate school curriculum visits for children as young as six.

“This report shows the gravity of the plans that were intended; a new build centre integrated with the old prison buildings, despite repeated assurances that no shrine to terrorism would ever be permitted,” Mr Donaldson said.

The site as it stands, he said, is “politically loaded and retains at its heart the idolatry of terrorism”.

It was victims, he added, who predicted that for republicans the peace centre was about “decriminalising terrorism and enforcing a single narrative that what occurred was a ‘conflict’ or ‘war’ rather than a terrorist campaign”.

They also predicted, he said, that republicans would involve children in the centre through school curricula.

The Colliers Report vindicates all three predictions, he said; all three of which were also outlined by a republican ex-prisoner network in the June 13 2003 edition of An Phoblacht.

In yesterday’s News Letter DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said that his party did not request, commission or set the terms for the report.

Peter Robinson had blocked the centre and the DUP had laid down conditions that it could not proceed without broad support from both communities, he added.