Party claims site in Northern Ireland will be turned into shrine to IRA hunger strikers
Ukip has joined a unionist campaign against what it claims are moves to build a “shrine” to Irish republican hunger strikers on the site of the old Maze prison in Northern Ireland.
The party led by Nigel Farage has joined the Ulster Unionists and the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice in organising an online petition in opposition to the plans for the former jail.
Northern Ireland’s main parties, the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin, have agreed on the creation of a “peace centre” at the site. However, other unionists claim Sinn Féin will turn the centre into a shrine in honour of the seven IRA and three INLA prisoners who died in the 1981 hunger strike.
David McNarry, who defected from the Ulster Unionists to Ukip last year and is now the latter party’s sole assembly member in the Stormont devolved parliament, called on the DUP to reverse its support for the project.
Urging the public to support the online petition, McNarry said: “No one has even attempted to put forward an argument demonstrating that it is right.”
McNarry said he was convinced republicans would turn the conflict study centre into a shrine honouring IRA and other prisoners.
The petition campaign, Raze the Maze, will go online this week with the aim of garnering enough signatures to convince the DUP to withdraw support for the centre.
Long after the last paramilitary prisoner walked free from the Maze thanks to the amnesty under the Good Friday agreement, the prison has continued to be a source of controversy in Northern Ireland. Plans to turn the site into a national stadium for sports including football and rugby were scuppered because of objections from the unionist population.