A Rathfriland victims’ group have attended a rally to voice their opposition to proposed development plans at the Maze prison, fearing the site could be turned into a ‘shrine’ for terrorism.
The Together, Encouraging and Remembering Victims of the Troubles (TEAR) group was established to provide help and support to direct and immediate victims of terrorist violence.
TEAR members are against the construction of a Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre along with the retention of the listed prison buildings at the site.
A spokesperson for TEAR said, “Like so many other innocent victims’ groups, TEAR would like to express its total opposition, disgust and hurt felt by its members to the proposed plans at the site of the former Maze Prison.
“It is becoming increasingly clear to many that the plans will inevitably lead to the glorification of terrorism and will give further opportunities for those who wish to rewrite the history of The Troubles in such a way where the terrorist continues to be equated with the innocent victims they created.”
The spokesperson continued, “There is evidence that republican groups are already visiting the site. The west Belfast group Coiste already offers ‘Irish political tours’ of the Maze from the “unique perspective of republican ex-prisoners”.
“They already go to the Maze to glorify the hunger strikers. They are already telling the stories of their heroic martyrs who won, in their warped mind, a monumental victory both at the time and also in terms of ongoing republican propaganda.
“TEAR are totally mystified as to how the DUP can now support this project. We are not interested in scaremongering.
“We have not been misguided by others nor do we misunderstand plans having visited the site for ourselves.
“As was stated at the outset of the rally in Lisburn; ‘In 1998 prisoners walked out of the Maze as terrorists - now will they return as ‘victims’.
“The DUP were not responsible for letting them out, but are they going to allow themselves to be responsible for allowing them the opportunity to return as ‘victims’?
“To prevent this TEAR’s message is clear. De-list the retained buildings and then have them demolished. If a Peace and Conflict Resolution Centre is actually needed, then build it elsewhere and not on one of the most divisive sites in Northern Ireland.”