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Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
Empey opposes jail museums
Maze prison
Sir Reg wants Maze prison to be regenerated
The Maze and Crumlin Road prisons should be regenerated rather than turned into museums of the Troubles, Sir Reg Empey has said.

Northern Ireland's Enterprise Minister was speaking on Saturday after a call from Sinn Fein for the H-blocks to be preserved as a reminder of the conflict.

Sir Reg said the matter would be discussed by the executive but he believed the focus should now be on the future rather than the past.

"I personally would want to see a living practising facility in those areas that would bring new life back into those communities.

Sir Reg Empey
Sir Reg Empey: Focus should be on future

"I would like to see community economic development represented - I would like to see mixed use developments," he said.

"While a museum could play a part I want to have something living and contributing to the new generation," the minister said.

On Thursday, the prime minister and the chancellor, Gordon Brown, said the two prisons and a number of army bases would be handed back to the Northern Ireland Executive.

Scar on landscape

These would be symbols of new progress and hope, said Mr Brown who joined Tony Blair on a short visit to Belfast to announce a package of financial measures to fund improvements to public services

He said former military bases were a "scar" on the landscape.

These would be symbols of new progress and hope, said Mr Brown.

A new strategic investment body will be set up to manage the resources and liaise with the private sector to achieve best value for public services.

See also:

30 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Army to hand over land to NI executive
23 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Army barracks to close
02 May 02 | Northern Ireland
Cash boost for NI
24 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
NI security cuts to begin
14 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Demilitarisation - the war of words
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