Long Kesh demolition underway
The former Long Kesh prison is being demolished today, with the process
starting with the demolishion of the former internment compound (Nissen
The prison was the centre of republican resistance despite brutal
British suppresion for over two decades, including the Blanket protest,
two hunger strikes, and several prison escapes. Long Kesh will also
be remembered for the wealth of writings by its prisoners, the
'University of Freedom' in which prisoners educated themeselves to PhD
level, and the 'Jailtacht' Irish language centre.
Speaking from the site, the British Minister responsible for the
action, David Hanson said: "The demolition of the Maze/Long Kesh,
leaving only those former prison buildings which have been given
statutory protection, marks a further step towards achieving the goal
of a new future for the site, a future that can be shared by the whole
"The Maze/Long Kesh has long been associated with conflict. Clearing
the site will be part of the mission to transform it into a symbol of
economic and social regeneration, renewal and growth.
"I believe it is very important to get the private sector involved
the vast potential for developing the site. I therefore particularly
want developers and investors to see and experience the vast size of
this site, and the opportunities it offers."
The demolition of the site follows on from the
'masterplan' proposals announced by Mr Hanson in May this year.
Cross-party agreement was reached on the development plan, with the
agreed retention of the prison hospital, where ten hunger strikers
died, and one block of cells.
Apart from a sports stadium where major soccer, rugby, Gaelic football
and hurling matches will be played, there are also plans to develop an
industrial zone as well as arts and equestrian centres.
Demolition of the entire site will take over a year. The second phase
of the demolition will begin early 2007 and will involve the clearance
of all but one of the H-Blocks of the former prison.
Sinn Fein's Paul Butler said: "There is a great symbolic importance
what we are doing today. The listed prison buildings can play a huge
role in the transformation from conflict to peace, and the cleared area
of the site can in addition provide for the substantial economic and
social regeneration set out in the Masterplan vision and agreed by the
main political parties."