Waringstown residents have ‘overwhelmingly’ given their support to a Ulster Unionist petition calling for the prison buildings at the Maze to be demolished say party members.
Upper Bann MLAs Jo-Anne Dobson and Sam Gardiner were accompanied by Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Tom Elliott, councillors, party officers and members from the Waringstown branch, as they knocked on the doors in the village requesting signatures.
Mrs Dobson said local people had been left “incensed” by current plans for the Maze site. “We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the innocent victims of the troubles, especially the members of our security services who have given so much in serving this community. Why, then, create a shrine to the past for those murderers who inflicted such suffering and pain?” she said.
The petition states: ‘We, the undersigned, register our opposition to the building of the Conflict Resolution Centre on the Maze site, believing that the proximity of the politically toxic prison buildings will aid the glorification of terrorism. Moreover, we call for the prison buildings to be de-listed and demolished.’
Mrs Dobson continued: “It really is a slap in the face to victims of terrorism – and that is how they feel. It is our duty to look after the most vulnerable in society, and the money that it is proposed to spent on building this ‘Conflict Resolution Centre’ would be better utilised to retain children’s heart surgery in Belfast and keep our local residential care homes open and free from future threat.
“We in the Ulster Unionist Party remain implacably opposed to a ‘shrine’ to terrorism being created at the site of the former Maze Prison. It is for others to search their consciences, listen to the public and join us in this opposition.”
Mr Elliott commented: “We got a fantastic reception from the people of Waringstown and as a Party we are fully focused on doing what is right for Northern Ireland. We need to be looking to the future, not looking back at the past to glorify murderers. People are really struggling to understand where the logic is in these proposals.
“There is a very real fear within a large section of the community that the prison buildings will become a shrine to deceased paramilitaries thus making the site totally unsuitable for a peace centre.”
Anyone wishing to add their name to the petition can do so by calling into Mrs Dobson and Mr Gardiners Constituency Offices in Banbridge and Lurgan respectively. The petition is also available online.