Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has hit back at those criticising the development at the Maze as scaremongering in the same way they attempted to prior to the devolution of Policing and Justice powers to the Province. Mr Donaldson said the blunt message was that “there would be no shrine at the Maze.”
Commenting, the DUP MP said, “Those individuals offering predictions of doom about the development at the Maze Long Kesh site are notable by the fact that they are exactly the same people who were saying that the devolution of Policing and Justice powers would see Gerry Kelly as Justice Minister. The idea that DUP representatives like myself who put on a uniform to fight IRA terrorism and who walked behind the coffins of comrades and family members murdered by the IRA would now countenance a shrine to the IRA is such a nonsense that it says more about the motivation of those who allege it than it does about us.
“The blunt message is: there will be no shrine at the Maze. The Democratic Unionist Party can absolutely guarantee that fact. It is unfortunate however that there are some unionists who seem to believe that unfounded scaremongering can be a substitute for facts and arguments.
“The Maze site represents one of the biggest development sites anywhere in Northern Ireland, with 350 acres in total. The listed and retained buildings make up only a tiny fraction of the total development site. The Conflict Transformation Centre will also be an entirely new build, separate from the retained and listed buildings.
“We already have seen a successful commencement to the constructon of Balmoral Park within the site by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society and we are working with groups like the RUAS who want to take forward a positive future for the site.
“There is a panel overseeing the entire development however, including the listed buidlings, which everyone should have confidence in. The panel includes representation from not just the business community but also a former RUC officer and others of standing within our community. All the content within the Conflict Transformation Centre, access to the listed and retained buildings as well as marketing of the centre also has a unionist veto over it. This ensures that nothing can go ahead which would be inappropriate.
“There will be no shrine to republican terrorists at the Maze, but what it can be a symbol of is the futility of terrorism. It can also serve not only as a reminder to us in Northern Ireland of how far we have come, but a lesson to others about how they can move beyond terrorism and violence and into a more peaceful future,” added Mr Donaldson.