Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Open letter from UUP leader Mike Nesbitt to First Minister Peter Robinson

As I have tried to make clear, I support the broad thrust of the Maze development (the £300m investment and projected 5,000 jobs); support the principle of a new build centre where we deal with issues regarding our troubled past and its legacy (although I remain unclear about the purpose and functions envisaged for your proposed Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre (PbCRC); oppose the location of the proposed PbCRC at the Maze.

My first question to you is this: why does this centre need to be built at the Maze?

As you now know, the proposal is opposed by innocent victims, including Innocent Victims United (IVU) who represent some 8,000 individual innocent victims; by the RUC George Cross Foundation; by the RUC GC Widows Association; by the Prison Officers' Association; by the UDR Regimental Association; by the Orange Order; and by many, many right-thinking people, including all the elected parties of unionism, bar the DUP. Jeffrey Donaldson says that he can offer a "personal guarantee" regarding what will and will not be permitted by the DUP in relation to the retained buildings of the former HMP Maze and the PbCRC. Respectfully, my second question is this: does this extend to actions by the other NI Executive Ministers with responsibilities outwith OFMDFM?

Finally, regarding the location of the PbCRC, I note the response to a Freedom of Information request that engagement with ex-prisoner groups far exceeded consultation with victims and survivors, eg ex-prisoner groups had been consulted no fewer than nine times before any engagement with the Commission for Victims and Survivors NI.

As ever the question is simply, why?

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