Northern Ireland

Daniel Libeskind: Maze centre 'can showcase Northern Ireland'

The architect designing a conflict transformation centre on the former Maze prison site has said it is an opportunity for Northern Ireland to show how far it has come recently.

Daniel Libeskind oversaw the building of the 9/11 Ground Zero memorial in New York and the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

He spent Tuesday morning looking at the site and said it had huge significance.

He is also meeting with the chairman of the new Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation, Terence Brannigan.

"It's a very interesting site and I think to give life to this site, to bring something really positive, (we can) say we are here Northern Ireland," Mr Libeskind said.

"The peace process resonates around the world, whether it's in New York, Europe, it's a very important thing and something that really moves the world forward."

The architect was brought into the project by McAdam Design.

The company's Martin Hare said it was a coup to get him.

"The challenge was the thing that made us bring Libeskind in," he said.

"There's maybe 10 architects in the world who are recognised instantly by reputation - Daniel's one of them

"But even within that small group his reputation within conflict resolution is par excellence and we recognised that by bringing him in here we could deliver something truly memorable for Northern Ireland."

'World first'

Earlier, Mr Brannigan said the conflict transformation centre would be "iconic" and "a world first".

He said neither the first nor deputy first minister wanted it to be a shrine to terrorists.

"It's about the future, it's not about us being stuck in the past," he said.

"We must remember our past, but nonetheless we must look toward the future and the peace building and conflict resolution centre will be doing exactly that.

"This is going to be something that is iconic, that will be a world first. We have an opportunity here to do something great and special on that site that will take us to the future."

Image caption Daniel Libeskind said the Maze was a very interesting site

He also paid tribute to Mr Libeskind.

"Daniel would be one of the world's great architects and he will be designing the peace building and conflict resolution centre," Mr Brannigan said.

"I'm meeting with Daniel at lunchtime and I'm hoping to have some understanding then of what Daniel's ideas are."

The Maze prison housed paramilitary prisoners during the Troubles in Northern Ireland from 1971.

The prison, where 10 men died in the 1981 republican hunger strikes, closed in 2000.

A conflict resolution centre is due to be built on the grounds of the former H-blocks.

Mr Brannigan said it would make up less than 8% of the 347-acre site.

"This is about giving something to Northern Ireland, most importantly economic growth in what are very difficult times," he said.

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