LAGAN Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has welcomed the announcement of the new Maze/ Long Kesh Development Corporation Development Corporation and has assured his constituents that the planned Peace Centre at the former prison will not be a shrine to terrorism.
"I am delighted the new development corporation has now been appointed and I have already had an initial meeting with the new Chairman, Terence Brannigan, and am planning further more substantive discussions in the near future," said Mr Donaldson.
"I am also pleased we have three local people appointed onto the committee, including my colleague Councillor Paul Stewart, local businessman Ken Cleland and former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland.
"I think Duncan's appointment is particularly significant because of all the propaganda that has been spread about there being a shrine at the Maze.
"The very idea that someone like Duncan, who served throughout the Troubles and lost many comrades as a result, would countenance an IRA shrine is just a nonsense and I am confident that, together with the veto we have at Stormont and the make up of the Corporation, the development of the Maze will be a positive one in terms of moving forward.
"It will generate a lot of employment for the local community," continued Mr Donaldson. We will have the RUAS on site with a show planned for next year and there has been significant interest in terms of commercial investment on the site, which will lead to further job creation.
"I believe the Corporation will be looking at providing sporting and entertainment at the Maze and of course there is the new Peace Centre.
As the local MP I want to make it absolutely clear that the Peace Centre is going to be located in a purpose built new building and not in the retained buildings," said Mr Donaldson. "The purpose of the centre will be to promote reconciliation and it most certainly will not be about in anyway glorifying terrorism.
It will be about learning from mistakes made in the past so that we don't repeat those mistakes in the future.
"I will be very closely involved in the development of the site as it moves forward and I give this commitment to the people I represent - I will do everything I can, along with the Corporation, to ensure the community gets maximum benefit from this major infrastructure project and there is no question of an IRA shrine being created on the site," he concluded.
The new Chairman of the Maze/Long Kesh Development Terence Brannigan with architect Daniel Libeskind
THE newly appointed Chairman of the Maze/ Long Kesh Development Corporation, Mr Terence Brannigan, is passionate about the redevelopment of the former prison site.
Speaking following his appointment this week, Mr Brannigan said there was great opportunity at the site for the whole community.
"I did passionately want to be involved and I was thrilled to be given this opportunity," he said. 'At first I had the same preconceptions about the site that most people have and all I thought about was the prison. However, when I came to visit the site I suddenly remembered having been here as a child to go gliding. It has a long history, as an airfield during the war, as a meteorological centre and much more that we want to remember. It has a rich and varied history and there are some great stories to be told."
Mr Brannigan pointed out that the new Peace Centre, which has caused controversy, will only comprise 8% of the total 347 acre site and he is keen to hear from the local community about how the rest of the site should be utilised.
"There is such an opportunity to deliver a range of very positive things for this site," he said. We have to deliver prosperity and jobs for the whole of this region but we must do that in conjunction with the people of this community.
"We need to ensure we develop strong partnerships with Lisburn City Council and with the community in order that what is developed here fits and the people get value from it. As we progress we have got to keep talking, and more importantly listening, to the city council and the community"
Mr Brannigan said there were a range of options for the site,
including the development of an agri-foods sector, as well as the
provision of significant community space at the front of the site.
He added that a series of events would be held at the site in the coming months and years to encourage the wider community to make use of the area.
"We are looking at a number of events to bring life and vibrancy to the site and to change peoples perception of what the site does," he concluded.
First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Chairman of the Maze/Long Kesh Development Committee Terence Brannigan
FOLLOWING the appointment of Terence Brannigan as the new Chairman of the Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation, the First Minister, Peter Robinson said the former prison site will be transformed.
He said: "The Development Corporation, under the leadership of Mr Brannigan, will be tasked to maximise the economic development potential of this valuable regeneration site. Challenges lie ahead particularly given the economic climate we now find ourselves in, but it is imperative we grasp rare opportunities such as the regeneration of Maze/ Long Kesh to aid growth and promote prosperity.
"I am confident that the experience and skills mix of the Board members will help transform the site," he added.
The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said everyone was committed to the redevelopment of the site.
"We are committed to maximising the economic, historical and reconciliation potential of the site for the benefit of all sections of our community 'here and further afield," he said.
"In recent months it was pleasing to see the relocation of the RUAS to the site and the award of EU funding to help build a Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre on the site.
"As plans progress, the regeneration of the former prison site will send out a powerful, physical signal highlighting how society here has been transformed and regenerated is moving beyond conflict," concluded Mr McGuinness.
LISBURN City Councillor Paul Stewart has been appointed to the newly formed Maze/ Long Kesh Development Corporation.
Mr Stewart, who also serves as the Vice Chairman of Lisburn City Council's Planning Committee, is one of three local men to be appointed to the Board, which will oversee the regeneration of the former prison site.
Local businessman Ken Cleland, who is behind a plan to bring a luxury hotel to Lisburn, and former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland have also been appointed to the Board.
Mr Stewart said he was pleased to have been appointed.
"I am pleased to have been appointed by the First Minister Peter
Robinson and Deputy
First Minister Martin McGuinness to the Maze/ Long Kesh Development Corporation," said Mr
"There is an excellent opportunity to create am maximise the full economic potential of this regeneration site. There will be challenges, for the Corporation in this current economic time, however we all must grasp the opportunities such a the regeneration of the sit and therefore aid growth am prosperity within our city" and indeed for the whole o Northern Ireland.
"I have no doubt that this regeneration of the site will create thousands of jobs an bring much need economic growth to Northern Ireland.
I want to clearly point out that there will be no shrine at the Maze and indeed the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have clearly said there would be no shrine at this site," he concluded.