Northern Ireland

Angry exchanges in assembly during Maze debate

Maze prison
Image caption MLAs argued over plans for the former Maze site

There have been angry exchanges in the NI assembly during a debate on plans for the site of the former Maze prison.

The First Minister Peter Robinson likened TUV leader Jim Allister to a Japanese solider who remained in the jungle even though the Second World War was over.

Mr Allister accused the DUP of "rolling over" to Sinn Fein over proposals for a peace centre at the site.

The debate was called by the Ulster Unionist Party.

The UUP have concerns over plans to develop a peace-building and conflict transformation centre at the Maze.

Mr Robinson said Mr Allister was content to mire himself in the past. He said he was the opposition to the assembly, not the opposition in the assembly.

"He takes on the role of wrecker in this assembly," he said.

The first minister added that the site would bring economic and social regeneration.

Shrine

The DUP has attacked the Ulster Unionist Party for its motion, led by Tom Elliott and Mike Nesbitt.

The DUP's Peter Weir said the UUP position "beggars belief" claiming this concern was "synthetic" as the UUP had its fingerprints on the plan.

The DUP is backing an SDLP amendment to the motion which calls for the building to be developing in a way that is sensitive to victims and survivors.

The TUV leader Jim Allister said the DUP was "rolling over" to Sinn Fein, and claimed that the hospital wing and other areas would become a shrine and that this was not acceptable to the unionist people.

Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney, himself a former prisoner of the Maze, accused the Ulster Unionists of shifting their position on the Maze because they had lost power to the DUP.

He said the Maze must be developed taking account of its political and historic significance.

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