PRISON warders who guarded over some of Europe’s most dangerous terrorist say the Maze jail should knocked to the ground.
They say nothing should be left on the land that either republicans or loyalists could use to glorify terrorism.
The prison officers made the call after DUP leader Peter Robinson made a dramatic U-turn on Thursday when he revealed he was no longer backing a peace centre on the site of the former top security Maze/Long Kesh (MLK) prison.
The First Minister’s sudden volte face came after a ‘Raze The Maze’ petition was lauched over victims’ concerns that the centre would become a shrine to terrorism.
All that remains of the once infamous Co Antrim jail is a watch tower, the prison hospital where IRA hunger strikers died and a single H-Block.
The jail compound closed in 2000 following the signing of the Good Friday agreement when republican and loyalist killers and bombers were freed early from their sentences on licence.
Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association, said on Friday: “From the day the Maze closed in 2000, the POA’s view was that it should be bulldozed, the whole site, and turned over to public use,” he said.
“H2 is not an historic building, the administration block is not an historic building.”
Mr Spratt, who represents more than 1,000 officers, said his difficulty was not with a peace centre itself.
“It is the difficulty about why was it established there and why keep the old hospital? That is the nub of the matter, that is where the hunger strikers died.”
“Our view from the outset was that the Maze has such a bad history that we would be better to bulldoze. There should be no glorification of terrorism from whatever side it comes from,” he added.
Sinn Fein are furious at the DUP decision to back out of the peace and reconciliation centre.
Raymond McCartney MLA accused the DUP leader of “political cowardice” over his decision.
Mr Robinson announced his move in a 12 page letter sent from his holiday home in America to the party’s MLAs, MPs and its MEP Diane Dodds.