Another go at transformation at the Maze

I waited in vain to read the response of those closer to the action than I to the idea of a “conflict transformation centre” at the Maze,  this time mixed in with the Balmoral show. It would surely have been easier to bracket the idea with a cross community stadium but that has gone. While I’m the last to encourage another bout  of easy cynicism, I really do wonder how it’ll play, to bracket the stout yeomen of Dervock with the aristocracy of  paramilitary remembrance on each side of the divide. Do the Show (memorably addressed by Tony Blair in 1997) and the RUAS really need to move from  their own rather magnificent set of buildings? And what will “conflict transformation” look like? If it’s as neutral as a chapel of rest at airports or some kitsch bits of statuary, it might be tolerable if redundant, but I doubt if any of the lobbies would stand for that.

If the recast Ulster Museum offers any guide , more likely are separate virtual montages  for each set of paramilitaries and prison officers along with appropriate clothing and artefacts (batons and smuggled-in guns), and an online repository of information on the Troubles you don’t have to go to the outer reaches of Co Antrim to access.  The imagination races ahead to dirty protest and escape “experiences” for the kids, the movie Hunger on a long loop and a commentary by Gerry Kelly. 

I suppose the best argument is that the land is going free (isn’t it?).   I fearfully wait for elucidation from FMDFM. Perhaps they’ll surprise us with a raft of orginal ideas that neither wallows in mawkish remembrance nor anaesthetises the horrors and somehow serves both sides and none.

Why not commemeorate the New Age with an International Ploughing Match to clear away the entire site? (There. I just knew somebody would be cynical).

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  • Chris Donnelly

    Why not commemeorate the New Age with an International Ploughing Match to clear way the entire site? (There. I just knew somebody would be cynical).

    While we’re at it, can we flatten the statues to Carson at Stormont, the UDR in Lisburn and the hundreds of other memorials across the north erected to remember dead British soldiers or individuals of note within unionism?

    Is that really a better idea than finding a means of ensuring that the contrasting narratives are provided with space in a new society based, unlike the old one, on mutual respect and equality?

  • Mary Anna

    PIRA sin/f let 6 of the hunger strikers die Why? – put that question up on the wall was it all for political advantage -gain political power over the dead for a vote! Put that up on the wall of fame the maze- 3,700 murdered why? 47,000 injured why? And what for – jobs for the boys. A lost caused. Futile war.

  • iluvni

    Instead of rebuilding Casement Park, wouldnt it have made more sense to build a gaelic stadium alongside the IRA shrine at the Maze?

  • Brian Walker

    No no Chris. This is knee jerk stuff. There is a difference between living with existing symbols and creating new ones. I wouldn’t tear up the republican plots either or destroy hunger strike or IRA iconography.I’d welcome some all- Ireland and nationalist symbolism at Stormont- there’ll probably the odd statue some time in the future. At least three sides have to be commemorated at the Maze. How? And to do so cheek by jowl with the farmers is a tall order. Apart from “peace “ art which tends to anaemic, have we got the artistic vision to pull it off? You tell me.

  • cynic2


    Its a pity about the stadium. We could have had a cross community match to open it with a football team playing a Gaelic football team – probably both playing to their own rules at the same time.

    Is that cynical enough for you? 🙂

  • MrPMartin

    The IRA really haven’t gone away you know (to coin a phrase), well, they have actually, gone away that is and now they are living peacefully on Little Diomede island on the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia.

    They even have an email address.

  • Mary Anna

    War is big Business! Boy they know how to build empires out of the dead. Power greed and egos – hope they tell the truth just for once-and not re write history! As they have not gone away but full there pockets with self interests.

  • between the bridges

    Well if it’s to be a true conflict transformation centre it shouldn’t be dived up into separate areas for each grouping they should all be mixed in the one (otherwise what transformation is there?) so you would have Bobby Sands alongside Billy Wright alongside a prison officer alongside a BA soldier etc!

    As I am sure this won’t happen I would demolish the dump (never thought I would join the smash the h-blocks campaign) and plant 3000+ tree’s, one for each death and formed into a huge ‘Y’…

  • michael-mcivor

    The H- blocks will now be a world peace centre- to try and help those lost in conflict- A little bit of Ireland can reach out to the conflict zones around earth- and hopefully allow talk and debate to be the only way to go-

  • Chris Donnelly

    A number of points on your thoughts, Brian.

    There is a notable imbalance regarding the ‘existing symbols’ which reflects where the balance of power lay in the past in this part of Ireland (or still lays, as in the case of the UDR statue recently erected in the ‘shared’ city of Lisburn.)

    I think you’re acknowledging the need to address that in your reply.

    I can’t see why the location of the RUAS near to this proposed development should be an issue at all.

    Regarding artistic vision or the ability to ensure that all sides have their stories told, I think the jury may be out on that one, but it’s at least worth a try.

    Incidentally, it’s not as if many existing locations with great symbolism have been particularly successful with ensuring that every story is told.

    After all, the Apprentice Boys seem capable of telling their story of the walled city without ever managing to find a place for the native Irish who really didn’t have the greatest of times in that area. If they can do that in the middle of a city which is overwhelmingly nationalist, then why can’t unionists facilitate a conflict resolution centre and museum recognising the historically significant events that occurred in Long Kesh?

  • between the bridges

    chris, do you think this centre will be mainly about the RM surely loyalists, prison officers and BA all played apart in the prison and conflict?
    also you have highlighted what will be the first of an endless series of rows over this blight on our society.. what do we call it? long kesh conflict transformation centre? maze conflict transformation centre? n.i conflict transformation centre? new hope conflict transformation centre…oh and how many languages do we translate the sign into?

  • iluvni

    There’ll be more bullshit at the CTC than the RUAS show

  • New Yorker

    To spend 18million on this in a time of economic hardship is unwise. Surely medical, educational, infrastructure projects should come before commemorating the divisive past.

  • Mary Anna

    you know what- dup and psin/f will make it up as they go along .New Yorker – the only way to get things done in this country is to direct terrorism. Then your elected. Sectarian flags get them in – we are so dysfunctional that you have to be a thug to get on in this life power greed ego the bigger the bully the more power and respect you seem to get you gain. lol its a laugh here.

  • weidm7

    How about a giant de-segregated school and community centre since the most effective way of building a future together is to.. build a future, together.

  • Chris Donnelly

    chris, do you think this centre will be mainly about the RM surely loyalists, prison officers and BA all played apart in the prison and conflict?

    Between Bridges
    Where did I intimate that the aforementioned organisations did not play a part in the prison and conflict?

    Your suggestion that there’ll be an argument regarding the name of the site may prove accurate, but that’s hardly an insurmountable problem.

    Indeed, having listened to the Belfast City Council meeting earlier this week, I note that nationalists have not stood in the way of those seeking to rename a local park in Orangefield after the British Queen. That’s a sign of maturity which, if reciprocated, points to the possibility of what were once seemingly intractable minor squabbles being ironed out.

  • ayeYerMa

    Pity that this topic had to be raised in Brian Walker’s typical do-gooding style that you would expect from BBC types – a style which masks the sheer amount of emotional despair among many ordinary people in Northern Ireland just to appease the 2sensitivities” of a few extremists. A despair caused by not only by flushing £18 million down the drain, but by using such money to also throw the sewage in the drain all over the Northern Irish people.

    I don’t think pages upon pages of swear words could possibly express my absolute disgust as this project. Not only is the decent law-abiding person in Northern Ireland insulted enough by the thugs who caused all the murder and mayhem being released from prison in the first place and then shoved into power, but the further insult of giving these bastards a fucking shrine?

    “Conflict transformation” yer arse. If the paramilitary shits, “Loyalist” and “Republican”, who caused all the fucking mayhem want to show that their “conflict” truly has been transformed, then no greater signal of this could be sent out than them jointly demanding that what is left of the Maze Prison is razed to the ground. This lot are already experts in demolition, and I’m sure could use such specialist knowledge for something that would be of benefit to the normal person for a change. Then again, these people have never been interested in anything other than themselves, their own extortion rackets and feathering their own nests.

    If that weren’t bad enough, many of our other politicians are not much better. Seems to me that the MP for Lagan Valley has no problem selling out Northern Ireland as long as it is perceived that a fast buck can be made for local residents. If that MP had any gumption at all, he’d realise that there are many many possible long-term uses for the site that can bring much better benefit to the area with this sell-out. SHAME ON YOU JEFFREY DONALDSON.

    The con-men that we have in Stormont are are certainly, however, good at their trade – this EU £18 million being a perfect example of their mastery in duping the Eurocrats. The sad thing is that a nobody can really trust a con-man – they’ve also conned the local population out of £18 million worth of industrial investment, infrastructure, health, and education budget…

  • Mary Anna

    How can how transform
    Between 1969 and 2001, 3,526 people were killed as a result of the Troubles.[126]
    Approximately 60% of the dead were killed by republicans, 30% by loyalists and 10% by British security forces.
    Responsibility for killing[127]
    Responsible party No.
    Republican paramilitary groups 2057
    Loyalist paramilitary groups 1019
    British security forces 363
    Persons unknown 82
    Irish security forces 5
    Total 3526the dead-

  • Brian Walker

    For me, Long Kesh ( let’s not forget the old aerodrome!) is a particularly intractible “shared space” as the stories of the dirty protest and the hunger strike are more complicated than a simple State v paramilitary or oppressor v victim topic. And surely the site is no more credible simply as a nationalist memorial to offset all the British/ unionist ones, than it is as a centre of reconciliation or “transformation”. Might I actually be wrong about that? Is the poltical class up to the effort of finding what all sides, apart from both sets of paramiliitaries can “share” there? I’d like to see the evidence but I fear another futile cycle of whataboutery.

  • 241934 john brennan

    In Northern Ireland we supposedly have inclusive devolved government. Throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe we definitely have economic depression and financial austerity measures.

    The logic of this is that our inclusive devolved government should be agreeing how best to prioritise and allocate scarce resources. So why on earth does a ‘conflict resolution centre’ at the Maze even get considered on any list of priorities?

  • John Ó Néill

    Here is some reading for anyone interested in other perspectives on this: two pieces by Laura McAtackney on Identity at Shared Sites (specifically the Long Kesh complex) and Experiencing the ‘Maze’. A read of both might widen the discussion out a bit.

  • galloglaigh

    It’s OK folks. The IRA shrine will go ahead, and Willie Frazer fully intends to “bulldoze it no matter what the consequences may be”.

    So everyone’s happy!

  • Mary Anna

    Richard O,Rawe has challenged gerry adams.. danny morrison ..bik mc farland to take a lie detector test to prove who was telling the truth in regards the deal/or no deal which could have saved the lifes of some of the brave hunger strikers. danny morrison attacks Richard O,Rawe on a weekly basis calling him a liar. So here it is adams .. farland your chance to put the record straight. I doubt they will take the test but i hope Richard will go ahead and show them bastards for what they are adams mc farland morrison thatcher all quilty of murder… this should help the maze awareness that the godfathers all let the hunger strikers die for British jobs.

  • galloglaigh

    How Mary Anna gets away with comments like that is beyond belief? Others have been given Black Spots for less!

  • Mary Anna

    Additional statistics More for the maze – I am putting up the facts gallogaigh – take your oil because i take my oil every day.
    Ps galloglaigh – watch you might learn something -we go to school every day .

    Additional estimated statistics on the conflict.[132]
    Incident No.
    Injury 47,541
    Shooting 36,923
    Armed robbery 22,539
    People charged with paramilitary offences 19,605
    Bombing and attempted bombing 16,209
    Arson 2,225[citation needed]
    [edit]See also