Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Aviation Society caught in puerile crossfire

Editor's Viewpoint

The Ulster Aviation Society holds a unique collection of vintage aircraft and artefacts housed in a historic hangar on the site of the former Maze Prison. The charity had been hoping to allow the public access to its collection on two designated European Heritage Open Days later this month. It would have been an interesting couple of days out for visitors and a bit of a money spinner for the charity – but now its hopes have been dashed.

Incredibly, for the second time in two months, the charity finds itself the victim of childish squabbling at Stormont.

The spat between the DUP and Sinn Fein means that the Maze site will not be open to the public on the European Heritage days although some 400 events will be taking place throughout the province.

Because the DUP has scuppered plans for a peace centre project at the site, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has vetoed public access to the Maze.

Do these two parties, the biggest in the province, really think this is a proper way to run government?

Once again the public are left shaking their heads in bewilderment at the juvenile level of politics here.

Allowing the Ulster Aviation Society to go ahead with one of its major fundraising events of the year would not have established any principle, but denying access has left a very sour taste in the mouth.

This is an example of government without responsibility. A totally innocent charity suffers collateral damage because of the poisonous relationship between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

The charity is simply a group of aviation enthusiasts who want to share their love of aircraft of a certain age with the public. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the past, including a replica of one of the Spitfires bought by Belfast Telegraph readers to fight the Battle of Britain.

It is a treasured part of our heritage, just like Stormont, which will be open to the public during the European Heritage Open Days. That really is rubbing salt into a festering wound as far as the charity is concerned.

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