EU parliament leader hails Northern Ireland ‘centre for conflict’
24 November 2008
A centre for conflict transformation in Northern Ireland would be welcome, the president of the European parliament said today.
Hans-Gert Pottering will discuss with colleagues from Brussels what financial support could be provided for the controversial development, which has polarised nationalists and unionists.
The project at the site of the former Maze prison near Belfast would highlight the history of the conflict, which saw ten republican hunger strikers die at the Maze in a protest over demands for political status.
Mr Pottering met Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont this morning.
“It is very useful to have a centre where you study the development of the reconciliation process,” he said.
“We should learn from history, from the good developments, from the bad development.
“We should give the lessons we take from history to future generations and I would welcome the building of such a centre.”
He said he would consider with colleagues in the European parliament what financial support could be provided.
One of the H-block group of cells and the prison hospital where the first hunger striker Bobby Sands died in 1981 are among artefacts mooted for preservation in the interpretative centre.
Unionists want to avoid a “shrine to terrorism” but republicans believe it would help boost tourism and have denied any plans to glorify violence.
It is one of the issues which have dogged a ministerial Executive which met for the first time in five months last week following a row about power-sharing
Extract of comments by Hans-Gert Pottering, provided by European Commission Audiovisual Services: