UUP veto Maze peace centre at Haass talks

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It has been revealed that plans to resurrect the shelved Peace and Reconciliation Centre at the former Maze Prison site formed part of the recent Haass negotiations.

It has also come to light this week that the Ulster Unionist Party vetoed any talk of the centre during the talks, which were held before Christmas.

The talks centred on three main topics - parading, flags and emblems, and dealing with the past.

In the paper entitled ‘Dealing with the Past’ proposals were included by Dr Richard Haass to resurrect the Maze Prison Peace and Reconciliation Centre. However, from the start, this subject was off the table, according to Ulster Unionist Party Officer Alexander Redpath.

“The Ulster Unionist Party vetoed the very mention of a Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre at the Maze during the Haass talks,” said Mr Redpath, who is running for election in the upcoming Lisburn City and Castlereagh Borough Council elections.

“As a Party Officer I was briefed of developments during the Haass negotiations alongside the MLA team and other elected representatives.

“During our briefings at the Assembly I was shocked to hear that the Maze Shrine had been on the table,” continued Mr Redpath.

“I made it exceptionally clear that the Maze Shrine was a red line for people in Lagan Valley.

“This site is wholly inappropriate for a centre focussed on reconciliation as it is steeped in Republican propaganda.

“We will not allow republicans to glorify terror and rewrite history with a shrine at the Maze Prison site.

“The entire Ulster Unionist Party team were of the opinion that the Maze Shrine was absolutely out of bounds. We didn’t fight a campaign for months against this shrine to U-turn at the last moment unlike other unionists,” he added.

On Monday night (January 6) the 100 strong Ulster Unionist Party Executive rejected the Haass proposals.

“The Ulster Unionist Party seeks a positive resolution to the issues of flags, parading and dealing with the past.

“The Ulster Unionist Party will examine any measures brought forward by the First Minister and deputy First Minister and report again to the Northern Ireland Executive at its next scheduled meeting in February,” concluded Mr Redpath.