Hundreds gather for peace centre rally

Hundreds of people turned out at Lisburn Orange Hall last Thursday (June 20) for a rally organised by the TUV, UUP and UKIP, opposing the construction of a Peace and Reconciliation Centre at the site of the former Maze prison.

The rally was addressed by Stephen Gault, a survivor of the Enniskillen bombing whose father was killed, Ann Travers, who spoke about the murder of her sister Mary, Rev Alistair Smith (Deputy Grand Master of the Orange Order), as well as political representatives Jim Allister, Tom Elliott and David McNarry.

Speaking after the rally, Lagan Valley TUV press officer Samuel Morrison said: “The well-attended rally in Lisburn last Thursday night graphically demonstrated the strong and growing opposition within the wider Unionist community and beyond to the DUP/Sinn Fein plan for a so-called ‘Conflict Transformation Centre’ to be built in the vicinity of the buildings which imprisoned those who created so many innocent victims in our Province.

“As Ann Travers observed during her speech, why on earth would any victim want to visit the site of a prison in order to tell their story?

“The rally on Thursday night heard from innocent victims like Ann Travers and Stephen Gault, who lost his father in the Enniskillen Poppy Day bombing and was himself seriously injured in the explosion, and the Deputy Grand Master of the Orange Order Alistair Smyth, as well as representatives of the UUP, TUV and UKIP,” he continued.

“At the meeting we learned that the RUC Widows Association had joined the ranks of the 13 other innocent victims groups which oppose the plan.

“The DUP are extremely isolated in relation to this issue. While the protest rally could muster many more people than there was space for in the hall the DUP couldn’t fill a telephone box in Lisburn or any other unionist area of Northern Ireland with people who support this project who do not have a vested political or personal interests in doing so.

“I would appeal to the DUP even at this late stage to do the right thing and get onside with the innocent victims of Republicans.”