Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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Maze Development Disgrace

The recent announcement by Edwin Poots that signals his intent to proceed with the Maze development plans have caused shock amongst victims. It would appear that this project is the first joint Sinn Fein/IRA-DUP initiative and one supported by civil servants as the type of co-operation that is needed to underpin the new devolved institutions. The Maze Project aims to placate Republicans by enshrining a central aspect of their history in what will be a flagship development. It is set to allow the PROVOs to rewrite history showing their illegal and criminal terrorism as a just cause a war of liberation on a par with the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. The maze will become a Robbin Island type memorial to the men of violence convicted criminals who continued to kill and abuse rights even when incarcerated.

The DUP have an equally strong interest perhaps not so idealistic more materialistic with the minister in charge having vested interests in the Maze site. As a Lisburn based MLA Mr Poots has a clear interest in ensuring that the new national stadium is based there. In the first interest this clear interest should be declared and Poots debarred from a role in the deliberations. Secondly as a unionist he should realise the danger of affording Republicans such a propaganda coup. If they are allowed to preserve a shrine glorifying their cause at the heart of a new national sports and leisure facility.

The Maze prison has an iconic status in their terrorist struggle, as a place for the incarceration of so many of them, it also set the scene for ten of them to commit suicide by starving themselves to death. We consider such a project to be a gross insult to terrorist victims, and discriminatory due to the retraumatising effect the presence of such a terror-sympathetic venue would have. It would therefore exclude victims from being able to make use of this location and support national sporting events. We demand it is demolished totally and a stadium built that is open to all and does not include a grossly offensive political message. We are still committed to bulldozing this temple of terrorism.

Already others have made contact with us to support Belfast as an alternative location and to discuss plans for an organized coalition of opposition. We have looked at the arguments and in practical terms such as existing infrastructure, location of a natural market and support base Belfast would appear the sensible choice. We intend to challenge the Republican aspect of the Maze site irrespective of whether the national stadium is built there or not. The Maze site is a remarkable development opportunity and we are already aware of efforts to attract international investors.

As victims we now state that if the Maze site is developed to include a shrine to terrorism we will commit ourselves to opposing it. Both physically to ensure it the shrine is erased and psychologically to ensure that it is a site of contention and controversy. How many investors would be willing to commit money to a site if they thought victims would be opposed to it. How many multi-national corporations would welcome the adverse publicity of victims on their doors. We warn Minister Poots and the NIO civil servants that we will picket and protest every step of the way and ensure that victims will not be ignored or sidelined.

We will identify key investors and take our message directly to them to their homes and social occasions in a bid to show them that as victims terrorism was taken to our doors and impacted on our lives. We already have groups in the USA and Europe willing to take this message to foreign investors.


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