Belfast Telegraph

Maze group chairman to be appointed

A chairman for the group redeveloping the former Maze prison site is to be appointed soon, the First Minister said.

Adverts will be placed for the key figure after European funding of £18 million was approved for a peace building on the grounds of the former H-blocks.

The prison was the focus of global attention during the republican hunger strikes in which 10 men died.

Peter Robinson said: "It is an extremely important development, it is close to the city of Belfast but it is within the city of Lisburn. It has massive potential to bring jobs on a long-term basis to the region and it has the size and status to be a regional centre so it is important to the whole of the province."

The choice of the Maze site for a conflict resolution centre has been strongly criticised by some unionists. They believe it is too much part of the fabric of republican history.

Mr Robinson said the chairman of the corporation charged with developing the Maze would be sought soon to ensure they have the person with the requisite skills.

The peace building project is set to be confirmed in the coming weeks as part of a £300 million redevelopment of the 350-acre site near Lisburn.

The conflict resolution centre will provide a place for visitors from around the world to exchange views on conflict transformation, a focus for education and research about the Troubles together with exhibition space and an archive.

It is envisaged there will be input from ex-prisoners, prison officers and victims.

Ten members of the IRA and INLA died on hunger strike in the Maze in 1981 and it was also the scene of their "dirty protest". Thirty-eight IRA prisoners also took part in the largest prison escape in British history in 1983.

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