Maze/Long Kesh: Peace-building and Conflict Resolution Centre

Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 26th September 2011.

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Photo of David McNarry David McNarry UUP 2:30 pm, 26th September 2011

4. asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister to outline any research which has been carried out by their office to assess public opinion in relation to the construction of the proposed peace-building and conflict resolution centre.              (AQO 370/11-15)

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

In September 2010, independent consultants were commissioned to develop a business plan and to access and quantify the market demand for the proposed peace-building and conflict resolution centre. In August 2011, that was further enhanced by the employment of Colliers International to undertake hard market research, which included a survey to test local demand and research to estimate demand from out-of-state visitors. That work is under way, and the results will be known by mid-October.

Photo of David McNarry David McNarry UUP

I thank the Minister for his answer. Will he provide an update on the current funding application to the Special EU Programmes Body for the conflict resolution centre at the Maze and confirm that the application will be made available to MLAs?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

I understand that, on completion of consideration of the economic appraisal, it is hoped that the outcome of the Peace III funding application to the SEUPB will be known by mid-November. On 14 January, a €20 million Peace III funding application was submitted to the SEUPB. As I said, it should be available in November. As regards whether it will be made available to MLAs, I do not have that specific information in front of me. I will ask that my officials forward that information to the Member. I am not aware of the legalities of the issue, so I do not want to make any further comment at this stage.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow Minister (International Development), Shadow Minister (Transport)

In trying to determine the public mood towards such a centre, does the Minister agree that, although it is important that particular groups — prison officers, police officers, UDR officers or others who have suffered as a result of terror — approve of that centre, the wider community in whose area it would be based also needs to give it its overall approval?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin 2:45 pm, 26th September 2011

Surely the purpose of a peace-building and conflict resolution centre is to ensure that members of our wider community are comfortable with the project. Clearly, there are challenges for us all in recognising the past and in determining how we move beyond the past. However, this project is as much about the future as the past; it is about us building our way out of conflict.

The benefit to us will not only be local; there will be benefits internationally, which will not only be financial but will come from our input in the global peace process and many societies where there is conflict. This centre allows us to share our experiences with other societies.

It is clear that the wider community will have to be comfortable on the way forward.

Photo of Raymond McCartney Raymond McCartney Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as an fhreagra sin.

I thank the Minister for his answers. I welcome the fact that the application has been made and hope that it is successful. The Minister gave some outline of the proposed development. Can he give some indication that this will be something that everyone in Ireland and beyond will want to use?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

Yes, and the interest of the EU in this matter indicates that it has a international impact as well as a local one. The centre, which has EU support, will have a clear and distinct remit and will focus on promoting and encouraging peace-building both here in Ireland and across the globe. The peace-building and conflict resolution centre will be a unique facility in promoting international exchange. It will house research study on economic activities, develop a modern archiving facility and be a place for reflection as well as being a shared space for visitors across performance events and exhibitions.

Photo of Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

Has the Department sought the advice and expertise of those involved in peace and conflict studies, such as INCORE in Derry, on this matter?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

There has been widespread consultation, both locally and internationally, on how best to develop this facility. If the Member has any suggestions or believes that there is information or practice in his locality and wants to share that with OFMDFM or the consultants, that would be worthwhile.