The DUP has said it is mystified following a plea by the Orange Order to halt a planned peace and reconciliation centre.
The party hit back, after the Orange Order called on DUP politicians not to proceed with the £18.1m Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre centre on the site of the former Maze prison.
The strongly-worded statement by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland — which described the project as “deeply flawed and ill conceived” — was addressed to all unionist politicians.
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and hardline Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) have also both voiced their opposition to the centre.
The Order warned that the project could deepen the trauma of Troubles victims, while “further the efforts of those who... wish to rewrite history”.
In April, DUP MLA Edwin Poots — who is understood to be a member of the Orange Order — said his party had made a “corporate decision” to get behind the redevelopment of the former Maze prison site.
Yesterday’s statement by the Orange Order is a blow for the DUP, which is closely linked to the institution.
“The party is mystified by the Orange Order statement,” the DUP said.
In a statement, the DUP claimed that a proposal in 2005 to build a peace centre at the Maze site was made by a panel led by unionist politicians and the Orange Order.
The party accused groups of falling victim to “scaremongering”.
In April, victims’ group coalition Innocent Victims United said it was considering launching a judicial review against the project.
The group threw its weight behind the Orange Order’s move yesterday.
THE DUP has insisted that there will be no narrative telling the stories of hunger strikers such as Bobby Sands at the planned Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre. The centre will be based on the site of the former Maze Prison, near Lisburn. World-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, has designed the £18.1m centre.