STALLING development of a peace centre at the former paramilitary prison is a mistake that could jeopardise jobs and the peace process, former Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness has claimed.
Speaking publicly about the issue for the first time, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister launched a stinging attack on the Democratic Unionists’ decision to halt the conflict resolution centre at the Maze in Co Antrim.
He said: “It is a mistake not just because it jeopardises much needed investment and jobs, but also for the message it sends to the vast majority of people - nationalist and unionist - who are rock solid behind the peace process.
“Some in the extremes of political unionism believe that they can unpick the Good Friday Agreement. Moves like this give them succour.”
Victims’ groups, the Orange Order and DUP political rivals had opposed development of the peace centre over fears it could “glorify terrorism”.
Peter Robinson’s dramatic U-turn on support for the centre, announced in a letter to DUP representatives, has engulfed the mandatory power-sharing executive at Stormont in a fresh crisis.
He blamed Sinn Fein “insensitivity” on issues such as parading and flags, and cited a contentious IRA commemoration parade in County Tyrone among the reasons for the policy change.