12 June 2008 Edition

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Resistance to Long Kesh project exposed

COMMENTS by former Six County Culture Minister Edwin Poots, highlighting resistance to the Long Kesh/Maze project from within the North’s civil service confirm what republicans have been saying for some time according to a Sinn Féin MLA. West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff who is the Chairperson of the Assembly Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee said:
“If Edwin Poots has these concerns about civil service attempts to undermine the innovative Long Kesh/Maze project then he should have brought them forward to the committee at a much earlier stage. He should have also come forward with his departmental decision at an earlier stage.
“This project, bringing together all of the main sporting organisations and creating an international centre for the study of conflict transformation is not just innovative but has the potential to leverage in £1 billion in investment and create 6,000 jobs.
“This should not be undermined as an exciting opportunity not least for the multi-use sports stadium
“Sinn Féin believe that resistance from both within the senior levels of the civil service and some unionists has attempted to undermine this project and particularly tried to demonise the International Centre for Conflict Transformation (ICCT) for some time.
“Any resistance from within the civil service should be faced down. Local politicians are in charge of the decision making process not civil servants. The prevarication and indecision of some unionists has of course helped to create a vacuum. We now need a decision. And it should not be one clouded by narrow political short-sightedness.”

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