A POLITICAL row has erupted between the DUP and UUP over siting of the Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre at the former Maze jail.
DUP Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has slammed the UUP’s “hypocrisy and crocodile tears” on the development of the Maze and Balmoral Park site.
Mr Donaldson said the UUP had previously supported a Peace Building Centre being located within the listed prison buildings while at the same time opposing a purpose built centre entirely separate from the listed buildings.
And he also queried the UUP’s commitment to victims issue when their leader admitted he was not even aware of the existence of illegal IRA monuments on roadsides across the Province.
Speaking today Mr Donaldson said, ‘The actions and words of the Ulster Unionist Party in recent days about the development of the Maze and Balmoral Park site are nothing more than a shallow display of political opportunism and hypocrisy.
“The Ulster Unionist Party sat back in silence to allow the listing of the H-block and other buildings at the site at the Maze site.
“It was only the DUP who opposed the listing of those buildings.
“Now the UUP tell us they have some magic solution to get around the clear legal protection preventing their demolition.
“The Ulster Unionist Party in the past was more than happy to support a Peace Building Centre positioned inside the listed H-block and retained buildings but now tell us they oppose an entirely separate, purpose built centre.”
He added that the UUP now want the centre to be built at the Crumlin Road site.
“However, there appears to be no public evidence of this policy existing until after planning permission was granted for the Maze development; again something not opposed by the UUP,” said the MP.
“Unlike the Ulster Unionist Party, the DUP’s policy is absolutely consistent.
“We will not countenance anything which glorifies terrorism, whether that is at the Maze or on the UUP’s chosen site where Tom Williams was hanged and where others such as Joe Cahill who formed the Provisional IRA was imprisoned.
“No one should be fooled by the crocodile tears of the Ulster Unionist Party, who are happy to spread misinformation and manipulate deep pain for their own cynical ends.
“The shallowness of their commitment to victims was demonstrated clearly when the UUP leader has stated during a radio interview that he was not even aware of the existence of illegal IRA monuments on roadsides across the Province.
“As the leader of a party which pretends to care about victims’ needs Mike Nesbitt should be well aware of these memorials but his ignorance also calls into question how much attention Mr Nesbitt paid during his time as a Victims Commissioner.’
Last week, Environment Minister Alex Attwood gave planning permission for the new peace centre.
Reacting to the decision, Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “There will be no story telling in the retained buildings whatsoever.
“There will be no tour guides, there will be simply a factual account of what the prison building was.
“There will be no narrative that is about glorifying terrorism, that is about the deaths of individual prisoners.”
And he added that there would be no mention of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands on the audio tour.