Belfast Telegraph

Ebrington move ‘could solve Maze peace centre squabble’

BY DONNA DEENEY

Moving the Maze prison Peace and Reconciliation Centre to Ebrington Square in Londonderry has been suggested as a solution to the ongoing rows between the two main political parties.

Terrance Wright, who quit as deputy chair of the Ulster Unionists to join the NI Conservatives earlier this year, said taking the centre away from the Maze completely would prevent it from being exploited for political purposes and that Derry is perfect.

He said this would end the stalemate between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Mr Wright explained: “If little else has emerged from the summer tension over victims, parades and the Robinson U-turn on the Maze there is the realisation that in spite of the progress that may have been made regarding levels of violence we are still capable of carving a path to old quarrels, crisis and impasse.

“With elections not far away, the Haas talks and a potential leadership change within the DUP there is the potential for stalemate and this seems to be a strong possibility over the future of the Maze.

“It is not surprising for we still work within a process that was part negotiated and part choreographed with important issues left for resolution.

“They were difficult at the time and remain so.

“Even before the change of policy by Peter Robinson the project was not without its problems.

“Now, following pressure from a coalition of groups and the alarm that this caused within the DUP, the situation has altered.

“The point has also to be made that the Castederg commemorative parade and the insensitive and unnecessarily robust words of Gerry Kelly MLA has placed serious doubts in the minds of those who were prepared to go along with the Maze project.

“There is now a strong feeling that in spite of claims to the contrary, the centre proposed for the Maze will be exploited for political purposes.”

Despite these difficulties Mr Wright believes there is still support for the construction of a Peace and Reconciliation Centre, just not at the current site and argues that there is historic reason why Derry is suitable.

He continues: “Without consensus you cannot legislate for reconciliation any more than we in Northern Ireland can build for the future by repeating what we did in the past.

“Admission and recognition of this can be a starting-point for change but in all probability not at the Maze.

“There is a viable alternative on the Ebrington site.

“Much of the site remains undeveloped.

“Derry has shown in this year of the UK City of Culture with the successes of community and big ticket events that sustainable change is possible and will be embraced by people who yearn for peace.

“The reconciliation that must be facilitated can begin from the same base if the various parties move from entrenched positions.

“The economic investment that it is claimed the Maze project will bring, can be protected and a world-class facility provided for the development of scholarship and expertise.

“Is it too much to hope that such history will not be repeated?”

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