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Maze/Long Kesh decision raises question over DUP commitment to peace & reconciliation

15 August, 2013 - by Raymond McCartney

Responding to a statement from the DUP leader Peter Robinson this evening indicating that he is to renege on a deal which would have seen significant investment on the Maze/Long Kesh site including a Peace Building Centre, Sinn Féin Assembly member for Foyle Raymond McCartney said:

“We have been involved in ongoing discussions with the DUP on this issue for some time. They entered an agreement with us. We were informed of this letter from Peter Robinson by the media.

“This is an hysterical reaction by Peter Robinson to the unionist paranoia whipped up by rejectionists like Willie Frazer and Jim Allister. They are leading the DUP on this issue. It is also cowardly, Peter Robinson is issuing this statement here but has long since departed on his holidays.

“He pens a letter telling how he is standing up to the TUV and UUP, yet what he is actually doing is following the agenda they have set for him. It is further evidence of weak political leadership.

“He talks about building a consensus at the same time as he talks up a veto. It is a nonsensical position.

“Peter Robinson, who has himself of course been totally absent over recent weeks, talks about difficulties around issues like parades and emblems. Surely then this should be all more reason why a Centre for Peace and Reconciliation should be built. Peter Robinson has not issued one word of condemnation about the violent attacks on the police in Belfast on Friday night. He has been silent on the attack on the Belfast Mayor. Yet he now claims to be exercised about a peaceful parade in Castlederg and can find the time to pen this lengthy letter, but time couldn’t be found to deal with much more serious and immediate issues on our streets.

“People will find it strange that the DUP are now turning their back on such a project and does raise very serious questions about the commitment of elements of the DUP to conflict resolution and peace building. That is a question which the DUP now need to address.

“It is up to the DUP to explain to people why at a time of significant economic challenges they are prepared to squander this opportunity for investment and job creation on the pretext that anti peace unionism has mobilised against it.

“But for us the job of building peace and securing jobs and investment goes on. We are not scared of hard work or to lead from the front. That means breaking down barriers and division not letting those forces who thrive on conflict set the agenda.” ENDS

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