Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Maze of problems worth resolving

The DUP may attempt to dress up the siting of a new peace centre at the Maze as part of an overall development and a welcome boost to the construction industry, but many others will view it simply as a victory for Sinn Fein.

Already there is talk of a legal objection to the proposed centre from a unionist-focused victims coalition fearing that the development will include a shrine to republican hunger strikers. We believe this could be the first of many such objections and the whole process, as so often happens here, will become mired in a welter of accusations and counter-claims. What is beyond argument is that such a centre is much needed. Attempts at finding a formula for dealing with the past and its legacy have moved with glacial slowness and the only authentic proposals, put forward in the Eames Bradley report, have been shelved. This newspaper believes that the siting of the proposed centre is flawed. It should have been on a neutral site far from the emotive remnants of H Blocks and the prison hospital where the hunger strikers died.

Of course shrines are not built, but rather created in the minds of people, and that is the problem which will dog this development. The almost veneration of the site by republicans will be matched by a polar opposite reaction from those who suffered at the hands of the IRA during the three decades of conflict, making even tentative attempts to find truth and reconciliation slower and more difficult.

Hopefully our fears will be unfounded and wiser counsel will prevail. We certainly believe the board running the development is suitably diverse to allay concerns about partisanship or lack of independent rigour. And it should always be the uppermost duty of everyone to bring some resolution to the horrors that were inflicted on so many in all sections here. Those bereaved or injured in the Troubles deserve to know the truth about the incidents which changed their lives for ever, but it could be a long time coming.

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