TWO senior DUP MLAs have rowed in behind party leader Peter Robinson over his decision to put the brakes on a plan to build a peace centre on the site of the former Maze prison.
Health Minister Edwin Poots tweeted at lunchtime on Thursday: “Sinn Fein were warned not to proceed with Catlederg parade.
“Gerry Kelly eulogised the terrorists who killed themselves. Now live with the consequences.”
Former Stormont Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said Sinn Fein’s response to the letter from DUP Leader Peter Robinson demonstrates why he was right to bring a halt to the Maze development.
Mr Wilson, who is widely tipped to be the new DUP leader, criticised Sinn Fein’s commitment to a shared future.
And the East Antrim MP also called on republicans to stop blaming unionists but to instead examine their commitment to a shared future in light of terrorist playparks and commemoration of criminals in Castlederg.
Said Mr Wilson: “Sinn Fein’s response to the First Minister’s letter continues to show just how out of touch they are with the feelings of anyone outside of their own republican clique.
“It also demonstrates clearly why the First Minister was absolutely right to outline the DUP’s stance on this issue.
“Sinn Fein have shown a complete disregard not just for the feelings of innocent victims in recent weeks and months, but for community relations right across Northern Ireland.
“Following a deliberately provocative strategy may be Sinn Fein’s way of relieving political pressure put upon them by dissidents, but it does nothing to help build a shared future.
“Unionists have witnessed Sinn Fein’s commitment to a shared future which does not include the ability to share a road.
“Sinn Fein’s commitment to a shared future, however, has included naming a playpark in honour of a dead terrorist and the lauding of criminals in Castlederg whilst victims are left seeking medical support to deal with the fresh trauma heaped upon them.
“It’s not only that the words of Sinn Fein don’t match their actions, but the words of Declan Kearney on reconciliation don’t match the words of Gerry Kelly.
“Sinn Fein have created a situation where consensus does not exist within the community for such a centre to be built.
“Rather than blame unionists it’s time instead they stepped back from their recent actions and demonstrated a real commitment to peace and reconciliation,” added Sammy Wilson.
Those proposals for a peace centre only took up a tiny fraction of the overall Maze site. There is absolutely no reason, except republican petulance, for the economic development of the Maze site not to continue. The potential still exists for the 5,000 jobs which would make a huge impact on issues such as youth unemployment and the continuing battle to rebuild Northern Ireland’s economy.’