MAZE. McGUINNESS: “NIENTE RIQUALIFICAZIONE SENZA IL PEACE CENTRE”
No development can go ahead at the former site of the Maze prison without agreement on the peace centre, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said.
‘Peace centre or no Maze progress’
The exterior wall of the Maze Prison being flattened. (© Pacemaker)
Plans for the controversial project were stalled last month after the DUP withdrew support.
Speaking in the Assembly on Monday afternoon, Sinn Féin’s Mr McGuinness claimed the decision related to violence on the streets of Northern Ireland.
“That deeply saddens me,” he said.
“The combined efforts by the unionist parties supported by extreme loyalists in maintaining a campaign against the peace building and conflict resolution centre were deplorable.
“The inability to deliver a programme for government commitment has created very significant difficulties for me as deputy First Minister. The peace building and conflict resolution centre always wanted to be a shrine to peace and a symbol of a new future where space is opened up for dialogue and true reconciliation between people.”
DUP leader Peter Robinson said the peace centre could not go ahead without consensus.
Some unionists had raised concerns that it could lead to the creation of a shrine to terrorism at the jail where 10 republican hunger strikers died in the early 1980s.
Mr Robinson said the appearance of senior republican Gerry Kelly at a recent IRA commemoration parade had contributed to his change of stance.
In a letter to party colleagues, he continued: “For the centre to be successful in promoting peace and reconciliation, there must be a broad consensus about how it will operate. It is my view that it would be wrong to proceed in the absence of a much broader consensus.”