Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Saturday, 7 July 2007 09:15 UK

Maze must keep status: McGuinness

Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness said de-listing the Maze would be ludicrous

Removing the historic status of the Maze prison and hospital wing where hunger-strikers died would be ludicrous, Martin McGuinness has said.

Unionist politicians objected to the creation of "a shrine to the IRA" at the Maze while MEP Jim Allister wants the buildings to lose listed status.

Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness has called for the creation of a conflict transformation centre on the site.

He said the former jail was a "project of international importance".

"I would be shocked if any minister in the executive thought it was a good idea to de-list the buildings," the Sinn Fein minister said.

Plans for the Maze site include retaining one of the H-blocks
One H-Block and the hospital wing would be kept

"It would run totally contrary to everything that we are trying to do in terms of attracting people to our country to learn from what is clearly a whole new experience for us."

Mr McGuinness said many people had "looked at this place as a place where there was no future and there was just perpetual conflict".

"Now we have come out of all of that, we have a lot to offer the world."

A 35,000-seater stadium for soccer, GAA and rugby is planned for the Maze/Long Kesh site, but opponents argue the stadium should be built in Belfast instead.

DUP leader Ian Paisley has already ruled out rival plans to locate the stadium at Belfast's Ormeau Park.

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