28/05/2013 Spotlight


Investigating stories affecting life in Northern Ireland. Simon Boazman reports on the controversial plans to develop the former Maze Prison site.

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Who has actually asked for a shrine to terrorism to be constructed at


the Maze? Nobody! Martin hasn't. Martin has made it very clear that


he doesn't want a shrine to terrorism, he wants a shrine to


for the Maze prison site, designed to show the world how far we've


come, so why can't we agree what to put in it? Here history is live and


contested and can often be used as a stick to beat your opponents with.


The First Minister says he will have the final say on what goes


inside the buildings, but can that stop the old prison, where Bobby


Sands the hunger striker died over 30 years ago, becoming a shrine to


Republican terrorism? As Jeffrey Donaldson said that the name of


Bobby Sands will not even be mentioned, that's so farcical that


no one should believe it. Many victims remain unconvinced that it


would become a shrine. It will become a shrine. They should have


This year, the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society moved its show


to its new home outside Lisburn and it proved a hit, with record


numbers attending the three-day event. You could almost forget what


this place used to be. Bringing the show here to the site of the former


Maze Prison is the first move in one of the biggest redevelopments


in Europe, with the potential to provide a major economic boost.


You've got 347 acres here, so you're talking about something


that's twice the size of the Titanic Quarter and four times the


We're talking about a target of over 5,000 jobs. We're talking


about an investment of about �300 million so pretty significant stuff.


The success of the new Balmoral Show here at its new site and this


is exactly what those in Stormont have in mind for this place, But


perhaps the success of this whole project lies with the decision of


what to do with the old prison buildings behind me, and the


divisions that this is causing not just in government but amongst


victims. There will be industrial areas and office complexes, but at


the the heart of the project are plans for an �18 million building


dedicated to peace, with plans to utilise what remains of the prison,


just 30 metres away. The go-ahead was given last month, and that re-


ignited a bitter row over the project. I set off to find out if


one of the most divisive sites in Northern Ireland is the right place


to put a building dedicicated to reconcilliation. And, given the


site's history, will it inevitably become a shrine to terrorism?


The Maze began life as an internment camp called Long Kesh


with Nissen huts initially housing the prisoners in 1971. For the next


29 years, it was the scene of some of the Troubles' most defining


moments. Protest and murder took place wtihin its walls. But it will


always be strongly associated with the hunger strikes of the 1980s, in


which 10 Republican prisoners died. Raymond McCartney was 17 when he


was first imprisoned in the Maze. In 1979 he joined the dirty protest,


demanding the right to be treated as a political prisoner. He


remembers the call going out two years later for volunteers to


escalate the protest to a hunger strike. It was spelt out in


explicit terms what hunger strike could and would mean, and I


remember making the decision, doing a lot of soul searching, asking


questions of myself, I volunteered my name that I felt that I felt


that the decision was the right one to make, and also it was a personal


one which I wanted to make, as well. We are prepared to die to prove


that we are special prisoners. spent 53 days on hunger strike.


Without food, his body began to shut down. You found that your


ability to focus your eyes, it wasn't so much that your eye sight


failed, but your ability to hold your eyes and focus was


deteriorating because the muscles around your eyes were obviously


wasting. That meant then that your eyes weren't in full control.


Wanting to get up out of bed became... You know, you were


comfortable lying in bed, whereas your instinct would have been


normally up to do a bit of walking about. By the end of the hunger


strikes, 10 men had starved themselves to death. The first to


die was 27-year-old Bobby Sands. The story of the hunger strikes


reverberated around the world. For Raymond McCartney, this makes it


the ideal spot to build a peace center. Many of us see it as part


of our lives. You take into consideration the impact that the


hunger strike had on the wider political situation in Ireland and


abroad, therefore, to us, it's just something that's a historical site


and should be preserved. But what about the victims of the


Troubles? I wanted to find out what they thought about the Maze as a


location to build peace. On the 5th January, 1976, Bea Worton's son


Kenneth was one of 12 men travelling home from work when


their minibus was ambushed in Kingsmills in County Armagh by


Republican paramilitaries. I was cooking the dinner in the kitchen.


Then some lady came in from a nearby house. She had heard more in


the news than us. She said, "Bea, will you not get up and go up the


road, for your son is lying dead?". That is her exact words she said.


That's the exact words she said to me. He was 24 and he had two wee


girls. One of them was only three and the other one was six. The wee


one at three had his table set for him coming home from his work -


knife, fork and spoon. In the paper the next day there was: "Daddy


Didn't Come Home". Colin Worton was only 15 when his


brother Kenneth was killed. He was great and I think you always want


to end up like your older brother. I was robbed of actually seeing,


because I was still a child myself The pain and sense of loss has


never left them It made me, at 15 years of age, hate somebody I


didn't know. What did it achieve? Nothing. It only achieved that we


have an empty seat and this... It is eating away at us like cancer.


No-one has ever been convicted for the Kingsmills Massacre, but hunger


striker Raymond McCreesh was later caught with a weapon linked to the


attack Colin believes putting the peace site at the Maze would become


a shrine to those involved in his brother's murder. We are totally


opposed to anything to be left. The H-Block, Hospital Wing or whatever


else they have. Totally opposed. They should have flattened the


whole lot of it. I do feel it will During the decades the prison was


open, it was often seen as a microcosom of the Troubles -


marking moments of turmoil and the move towards peace. Its doors


finally closed in 2000 and they have remained so ever since. For


some Unionist critics of the planned peace building, the site


will be a permanent insult to those bereaved in the Troubles. It will


be a place where people gather to exalt in and to glorify in what


those who were rightfully in that prison did and to totally ignore


why they were in prison and the crimes they committed and the


stream of victims they left behind them. I don't think any of us want


to glorify anything. No Republican wants that to happen, all we want


to happen on that site is that people are allowed to tell the


history of the site, no glory. Because when we look back, in


conflict there is no glory. What we should do is reflect on the pain,


the suffering, the sacrifice and allow people then to reflect on


that. Jim Allister has organised a petition to try and overturn the


plans to locate the peace centre at the Maze and argues what's left of


the prison buildings, which are listed, should be flattened. Well,


if we need a Peace and Reconciliation Centre - and that's


maybe a debate on its own. But, if we do - let me accept that we do


for a moment - why would you ever build on the most divisive site you


can find in Northern Ireland? By choosing to site it cheek-by-jowl


with the prison buildings, you're guaranteeing to tarnish the


building, to blight it and to taint it with the history of the site.


who decided on the current plan? Unionists blame each other,


particularly over the listed status over the retained prison buildings.


The UUP go so far as suggesting a DUP - Sinn Fein deal. It does


appear that the DUP's stance on the Maze changed in 2007, the very year


that Ian Paisley sat down with Gerry Adams and did a deal. Now we


know that they sat down publicly together. They obviously must of


sat down privately together or a least on behalf of the two parties.


What I would like to know is what they agreed behind the scenes with


regard to the development of the Maze. Well, that simply isn't true.


I have been involved in this issue right throughout and I can assure


you that at no stage did the DUP withdraw their opposition to the


listed building. Well, in 2007, the proposal from Sinn Fein, UUP and


SDLP was to put the peace centre into the retained buildings. We


vetoed that. When we took control of OFMDFM, we said that isn't going


to happen and we held the line until the other parties changed


Deal or no deal, one commentator says, for Republicans, the legacy


of the hunger strikes is non- negotiable. This is something which


had to be done to give the rank and file of the Republican movement,


and particularly and specifically the rank and file of the IRA who


fought the war, they had to be given a stake in what has come out


of their struggle. Academic Kris Brown says all those with vested


interests in the Maze development are mindful of the sensitivities in


their own heartlands. Here, as in common with other divided societies,


history is live and contested and can often be used as a stick to


beat your opponents with. It can used as a valuable resource in the


peace process, not simply to wield over the other community, but also


within your own community. For example, mainstream Republicans


would be very concerned about dissident groups hijacking the


memory of the hunger strikers, if you like. They would be fearful if


they were to abandon the memory of Irish Republican armed struggle


that it won't simply be forgotten about - it will be picked up by


spoiler groups, dissident groups, project have been hard to get hold


of and for some this has increased speculation of a secret deal.


the last few months, Unionists opposing the Maze development say


they've asked for information about the site including details of what


consultation took place and what other locations were considered for


the peace building. They say, they've had no satisfactory answers


as yet. Over the last couple of weeks we have also requested


information on the site - we received no detailed response - but


the office of the First and Deputy First Minister told us they have


consulted with the victims sector. They said the process has been


transparent but that some detail is commercially confidential. I put in


a request to go on to the site, to see where the new peace building is


going to be and take a look at what's left of the prison buildings.


But the fact that this publicly owned land - and funded by Europe


-we still haven't got a response to our request. So, at the moment, this


is as close as I can get to the site of a building that is meant to bring


us closer together. It is over there somewhere. There it is. For some,


the reason we struggle to bring communities closer together is at


the very heart of what's wrong with the peace agreement itself. There is


still a huge job that needs to be done to assist Northern Ireland to


come to terms with its past. Where is the debate about what forgiveness


means? About tolerance? About how we can learn to live together with


former enemies in peace. It is quite clearly an us and them Government.


Every single thing needs to be scheme. The unstated strategy of


some of those involved in these negotiations has been fudged your


way to freedom. But the fudging doesn't settle anything, fudging by


its nature doesn't clarify anything, i think that what we have got up


here is a settlement which is based on permanent negotiations, permanent


disagreement. Its never going to reach an end point. There is never


going to be a point where both the DUP and Sinn Fein are going to say,


there, there is the finished article. Inside this apparent


fudge, and agreements to disagree. A process that at its worst just opens


hierarchy of victims I don't agree with it but there is actually a


hierarchy?. Once you make this moral point and say the man who pulls the


trigger is exactly the same as the man who's brain the bullet went


through, you've debased all of politics, you've debased morality,


you've undermined democracy. There is a hierarchy of victims in


northern ireland that there have been people who have died in the war


or conflict here that nobody particularly wants to remember?..


You know, sometimes when we are debating the hunger strikers who


died?.or the Bloody Sunday people. , people who died in the Shankill


bomb, or Enniskillen. You have to wonder sometimes what the thoughts


are of somebody who lost one person, who lost a brother or a son, are


they supposed just to stand at their door and listen to all this and then


go in quietly and nurse their grief on their own. Some people do, a lot


of people do, but its not fair, its their family's story has been


embarrassment, any innocent victim out there that have suffered like we


have suffered, catholic and protestant, is an embarrassment they


have got their minds made up. will stick to it. They don't care.


Full. As long as they don't suffer, building will elevate some dead - at


from planet Mars and you landed and you spent a week listening to radio


and watching TV reading the newspapers you would be forgiven for


concluding that only about twenty people died during the troubles.


Thirteen of them on a particular day in Londonderry in the early


seventies and those were the victims of Bloody Sunday. And a few others


high profile cases. But three and a half thousand plus people died. Tens


of thousands have been affected with physical and mental health issues


and they are largely forgotten. it would be wrong to think that all


victims' families oppose the redevelopment at the Maze. Alan


McBride's wife was killed in 1993 in the Shankill Road bomb. Their


feelings have to be taken on board. But they have mixed feelings. There


are victims out there who undoubtedly would never go near the


Maze Prison. There are others who have said they would gladly go


there. I think we have to find an accommodation. But we'll all stories


be told? The first and deputy First Minister effectively have a veto


body says there is more autonomy than something. When I first met


with them, they talked about the independence of the development


corporation, it is an arm's-length body. The corporation owned the


land, so it is our sponsored ability to develop it. But against those


parameters that were set down by the first and Deputy first and were


enshrined at the beginning. It does not sound very independent? You have


to accept that when you are independent, it does not mean you


are completely independent of life. There will always be people you


report to. For some, it's inevitable that the first and Deputy First


Minister decided to have control over the development. I think it is


arguably the last thing you should ask to run this place. Out of the


nominees. On the other hand, being realistic, given what is happening


in Northern Ireland, I don't doubt that that was the first and only


idea that the powers that be had. Let's have them run this place,


let's have Sinn Fein and the DUP share this out, after all, they're


sharing everything else out, why shouldn't they share out the maze


Long Kesh. The Alex Kane, having control over


the project is key. He knows that for a core part of his audience,


they will see this as a shrine and them to what he says, they will see


it as a shrine. It almost like a sane, trust me, trust me with this.


I think the problem they both face is that they are key constituencies


that are disconnecting with them. It is remarkable they've managed to


keep the whole process stumbling along. Chris Brown believes that


providing a yes or no option or an on or off switch could threaten the


success of the site. Everyone realises how difficult these


histories can be to tell within an put in place to try and deal with


that. It does not generally involve giving a switch to a political


leadership from a party whether it is Unionist or Republican. Jeffrey


Donaldson was clear about invoking that yes or no option in a radio


interview. There would be someone they're saying this is where Bobby


that world eulogise their hunger strikers, whoever they may be, no


matter how notorious they are. We have listened to the victims, unlike


others. That is why the new peace Centre will not be in the listed


buildings. Jeffrey Donaldson said that the name of Bobby Sands will


not be even mention. That's so farcical that no one should believe


it. It would be like telling the history of Manchester United without


George Best. Sands and the hunger strikers will obviously feature. The


important thing is to ensure that other voices are there. Alan McBride


says we must respect each other's stories and that is something that


is not always apparent. If there is a debate around some issue, whether


its flags, whether it is the prison, they are very quickly go back into


their own camps and where they are coming from and so I sometimes


wonder is it all at face value, is there any depth to the sort of


pursuit for priests. But its not just families of victims who have


opposing views. Former prisoners from both sides do too. Anthony


McIntyre, aFormer Republican prisoner, now a critic of Sinn Fein,


is fearful of what he see's as the legacy of the hunger strikers Being


Sinn Fein halal Bobby Sands to be airbrushed out. I think it would


confirm the staters of Martin McGuinness, because he would have


meant a little more than Deputy dog. I mean have things gone so bad that


be Sands will be next described as some sort of mistake and criminal?


Former loyalist prisoner Billy Hutchison believes the prison will


become a shrine. I think it would be madness to open that site as some


sort of museum or anything else, because they are not going to stop


it being a shrine, no matter what agreement you get, it will happen.


don't mean to sound twee or you know cliche about this but the shrine


that I want to see to the guys who died there is the new agreed Ireland


that they died for basically. It's not some building outside Lisburn


you know that's not what they died for. Billy Hutchinson's is also


worried the role that Loyalist played in the prison will be totally


oveshadowed. Not only has the history being rewritten and we have


had this revisionism and we are going to have it in the is and you


know it's bad enough having to listen to people who tell me how


they won the peace and revised all of this. Like many of his


counterparts, he feels any attempt to ban the mention of the hunger


strikes will fail. How do you hold back on answering questions to


tourists or anybody else who knows about the Sands? -- Bobby Sands.


when any story about what happened at the maze is finally agreed for


tourists to hear, will anyone want to go? To find out, I hit the


tourist trail. I think it would be an interesting tour. What would be


the kind of thing you would want to see? Again, trying better to


understand what went on and why. be honest, I think most non-Irish


people with close roots in the United States know very little about


time... I think it will bring back animosity. I think I would go and


see it. I guess, insofar as we saw a jail when we were in Dublin and it


was fascinating so to be able to see that in Belfast, I guess the


conflict is a bit later and closer to now but it would be interesting.


I typically don't go to places of torture or incarceration. It makes


me feel uncomfortable and I just don't put myself through it. So what


27 years in the prison service. I want to see the maze levels. Let's


bury all of that. He had be in charge when Billy Wright was killed


by republicans inside the maze. murder of Billy Wright... I could


not have anticipate how it would affect my life. The loyalist


paramilitary footy may have colluded in the killing. The death threats


came thick and fast and the house moves followed. Then the climax of


that was retirement with poster Matic to stress disorder. It got the


point where could not cope any more. He says his time in the prison


service cost him his health and career. But his objection has


recently changed. What society has been doing is running away from it.


It may be the thing that makes us actually confront it, confront our


past and deal with it through this new centre and hopefully then,


provided a glimpse of what is possible here, but the shadow of the


past hangs heavy over the site. Just as it does over Northern Ireland.


There is no attempt made to deal with the legacy of the conflict. The


prisons were simply a part and parcel of that legacy and until you


have a process that in place to look at all of that, you are going to


have... You're going to have disagreement. If you forget the


past, history will repeat itself. We should get it sorted out now, before


my generation goes and the next generation comes along, because


Terrorist shrine or iconic peace centre? Simon Boazman goes in search of the truth about the controversial plans to develop the former Maze Prison site.

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