Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Troubles museum should be at Crumlin Road

I fully support the twin ideas that (a) we should have a museum of the Troubles and (b) that Northern Ireland has something to offer the world in relation to conflict-resolution and peace-building.

However, I am totally opposed to the use of the hospital wing of the former Maze Prison for either purpose.

The Maze site is historically important, but only as one narrative of the Troubles – the republican narrative.

It does not adequately, or appropriately, represent the victims. Likewise, the hospital wing bears little relevance to loyalism.

The current edifice at the Maze should be preserved like former regimental colours: kept, but allowed to disintegrate with time.

The outer walls and main gates should remain intact and access to the inner buildings should be prohibited; a virtual time capsule representing an era that should remain forever closed.

If, in any way, the Maze were to become part of a memorial to the Troubles, then all the victims should be listed, with their age and their status, on the outer walls, by date of death under the groupings that killed them.

So if the Maze is unacceptable for a Troubles museum, where is acceptable? To me the answer is obvious: Crumlin Road courthouse and gaol.

These buildings more accurately reflect not only the history of our immediate past, but give us historic links to previous campaigns and events.

MARK NEALE

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