Peter Robinson launches attack on ‘scaremongering’ Maze critics
Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have launched a scathing rebuke to opponents of the Maze redevelopment project.
First Minister Mr Robinson hit out at “scaremongering rubbish” over the building of a peace and reconciliation centre, saying those against it should be “taken away by men in white coats”.
Mr McGuinness said the project would create “a shrine to peace”.
In yesterday's Belfast Telegraph, DUP leader Mr Robinson said he would have the final say over the content of any exhibition in the peace centre.
His comments came on the back of fears within unionism of the glorification of former republican prisoners within the new project, notably the hunger strikers of 1981.
But yesterday, Deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness appeared to be stressing that its content will be decided very much on joint agreement.
At yesterday’s launch of the plans for the entire site, Mr Robinson said: “I can give an absolute assurance there will be no shrine to terrorism, there will be no glorification to terrorism at Maze/Long Kesh.”
He added: “There are some crazies out there making all sorts of predictions as to what's going to happen on the site.
“I can tell people that anything they have heard has no truth to it because we have not yet agreed what a script will be. It will be for us to work out if that is a suitable script to be used.
“We will do it with all sensitivity for the victims of terrorism.
“When people talk about a shrine to terrorism, who has actually asked for a shrine to terrorism to be constructed at the Maze? Nobody. Martin hasn’t. Martin has made it very clear he wants a shrine to peace.”
Mr McGuinness responded: “I am sad how they (opponents) go about using victims, which raises all sorts of questions about their motivations.
“Nobody is wanting to airbrush anything.
“What has happened, and Peter has said it, we have not agreed the content of the peace centre or (how) management of listed buildings will be handled.
“Will we agree it? Yes we will.”
Mr McGuinness said his message to dissenters was that there was “no going back” on the scheme. “From this day on we are moving forward and we are going to build something people can be proud of.”
Mr McGuinness said it was important the centre was relocated to the site of the former prison so visitors could learn from mistakes of the past.
He said those who suggested the stories of those embroiled in the Troubles be told at a neutral venue “obviously didn’t know anything about conflict resolution”.
The UUP, TUV and Ukip are calling on the DUP and Sinn Fein to put an immediate end to the project and have launched a public petition.
“The Maze site is the wrong location for a peace centre where the whole focus will be on the prison and what happened within its walls,” said Mike Nesbitt, Tom Elliott, Jim Allister and David Mc Narry in a joint statement issued yesterday. “The DUP and Sinn Fein should move the centre to another site so that the Maze redevelopment can go ahead unhindered by the toxic legacy of our past.”
Mr Robinson replied: “I’m a bit worried about their sanity.
“The Ulster Unionist Party are the ones who determined the location of the peace centre and now say we shouldn't have it here.
“As soon as they have locked us into these arrangements they say ‘this is terrible’.
“You can’t behave that way in politics, you’ve got to stand over the decisions you take.
“We have committed ourselves to a project which is in the overwhelming interest of the people of Northern Ireland.”