Pete has mentioned this below but there are now a few more details available: The BBC are reporting that an agreement has been reached on the Maze site (as trailed by Martin McGuinness when the Newry bypass was closed to allow for its official opening).
According to the BBC:
a board will be appointed to oversee the facility. It will comprise of ex military personnel, former prison officers, and police officers along with victims, politicians and former republican and loyalist prisoners.
The facility will be housed in the former prison hospital where the IRA hunger strikers died and in one H block, H6.
If approved by the Assembly, a development corporation for the site could be operational within six months.
The corporation will oversee the opening and redevelopment of the site including the construction of the Peace Building and Conflict Resolution facility.
The news was welcomed by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson.
“The constitution of a development corporation for this strategically important Maze/Long Kesh site will enable us to realise the full economic potential of the site.
“The site represents a unique opportunity to help revive our economic output in these difficult times.”
“The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister will shortly submit an EU funding application for a Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Facility on the site.
“It is anticipated that the centre will be a world-class facility of international importance designed to strengthen our peace-building expertise and to share our experiences with others throughout the world.”
Thus far the only partially dissenting voice has been Sir Reg Empey who said:
“I have been calling for the creation of a Maze Development Corporation for the past 2 years. It is a tried and tested model of delivering development and regeneration. It is a pity that it has taken the First and deputy First Ministers so long to reach this point – 3 1/2 years have been wasted before this point has been reached. That said, I welcome the fact that the First and deputy First Ministers have now eventually come to a decision.
“The issue of the Conflict Resolution Facility is, however, somewhat different. I would be worried that the work of the Development Corporation will be overshadowed by the sensitivities surrounding locating the Facility in a former prison which symbolises much of the pain and division Northern Ireland experienced during the Troubles. The prison is regarded very differently by different political traditions – it would be a shame for the Facility itself to become a symbol of division.
“Considering that recent months have demonstrated how deeply divided Northern Ireland is over the past, I would have preferred the issue of the Conflict Resolution Facility to have been parked for the time being.
“Progress on the Development Corporation is welcome – but long overdue. It is now up to First and deputy First Ministers to ensure that the dithering and delays of the past 3 1/2 years are not repeated”.
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