Time Haass Come for Real Change ... Turn Maze into Museum

John Coulter with an Irish Daily Star column. It initially featured In News Hound on 6 January 2014.

Don't become a Haass-Been in 2014; instead, follow the Hungarian model and convert the Maze Shrine into a Museum of Terror.

Forget the blame game and the political spin. Every dog in the street knew that if the Executive parties could not reach an agreement on flags, parades and the past by last Halloween, the Ricky Haass talks were doomed.

What party in its right mind a matter of months before two major elections is going to agree to a series of concessions and compromises?

May's European and new super council polls will be the most crucial since the 1998 Assembly election which gave the fledgling Stormont a distinctively pro-Agreement flavour.

The Shinners will go into the poll in a clearly better position than Robbo's Dupes. Anyone who believes Big Al's Stoops can overhaul Sinn Féin's lead in the nationalist community is living in cloud cuckoo land.

Reality pill number one for the Stoops. Their Euro candidate wee Alex Attwood hasn't a snowball's chance in Hell of snatching back the current seat held by Shinner convicted ex-terrorist Martina Anderson.

To remain a party of significance, the SDLP should adopt the policy of popular Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone and focus on the rural middle class Catholic vote.

In the Unionist camp, Robbo needs to box clever to see off the range of assorted fringe parties all claiming to defend the Union.

Robbo certainly will not want to lead his party into the same electoral meltdown as befell former First Minister David Trimble in the 2003 Stormont and 2005 Westminster polls when the DUP under Big Paisley overthrew more than 70 years of Ulster Unionist domination.

Leaks coming out of the Haass talks confirm that present UUP boss Mikey Nesbitt was spot on when he said the Executive parties were at 80 to 90% at hammering out a workable Haass deal.

The final 10% which proved to be the ultimate stumbling block was how the overall package could be sold by the parties to their respective electorates. Which party would own up to blinking first and agreeing concessions?

Given the dramatic Maze jail U-turn, Robbo clearly does not want to hear the jibe that he leads the Doubtful Unionist Party because no one in Unionism knows where it stands.

So, bin the seven Haass documents and here's the Coulter One document to consider. Let's start with the Maze Shrine. It should be developed along the lines of the impressive Museum of Terror which has a prime location in the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

The Hungarians have the dubious honour of having lost every war they participated in during the 20th century, costing tens of thousands of lives.

Yet they have no fear of showing off a multi-storey building dedicated to the various conflicts which ravaged the country. Candles and photos of dead loved ones surround the building.

Having visited the Museum of Terror as part of a journalistic trip, I was taken on a highly emotional journey detailing the horrors of the Nazis, the slaughter of Stalin, and the turmoil of the failed 1956 Uprising.

Any visitor, of whatever nationality, is left in no doubt about the suffering of the Hungarian people. Such a Museum of Terror pulled no punches about the depth of that suffering and the real meaning of the word 'victims'.

Budapest's Museum of Terror even had cells where people were tortured, died or were executed during the nation's bloody history, so a restored H Block or prison hospital wing at the Maze Shrine for Ireland is a Sunday School picnic project.

Just as the MLAs were shipped off to Nelson Mandela's South Africa to kick-start the peace process, my Coulter One document recommends all Assembly members go to the Museum of Terror and let's once again kick-start the Maze Shrine initiative.


  1. From Michaelhenry

    Real Sinn Fein have registered Republican Sinn Fein as their buisiness name this week-the person who registered this name is a one Sean Mac An Ghirr-lol-i see trouble ahead-

  2. youd know all about trouble michael

  3. Coulter must have been looking in the unionist mirror and come up with the Nazi comparison, I think it's a shrine to unionist dominance he's talking about. Go light a candle at the foot of Carson's statue!

  4. Johnny me lad, you have now officially defied gravity and flew over. Take er handy ya mooncat, lest you find urself in no.10, sorry that should read flat 10.lol

  5. Dr. Coulter I agree it should be a shrine to terror after all it was a British terror camp notorious for its inhumane treatment of POWs along with its dark legacy of denial of basic human rights.
    A place designed to break the will of republican prisoners with sadistic screws who enjoyed every beating they delivered those same screws took pleasure in every chance at degrading, humiliating and being above the law will never face charges for their criminal antics.

    At a too high of a price republicans broke the back of fortress HMP Maze one victory the Unionist and the Brits would prefer to level and burry in their shame that the might of the Brits was defeated by the resolve of those they tortured and attempted to break.

    How about a shrine to basic human rights challenging the brutality inflicted by a corrupt prison regime on defenseless prisoners who were forced to use their minds and bodies as a weapon to defend themselves.

    It still is a bitter pill for unionists that the prisoners broke the myth and eventually broke the H Blocks a shrine to human endurance and perseverance.

  6. Feel te love,

    That was a sketch the flat number ten had me in stitches.

  7. Tain Bo

    John does put together some funny articles. Glad you had a chuckle at my comment. Mr Coulter does seem like the humorous type, so hopefully he wont take offence.
    I have heard he has started his own line in, tinfoil hats.

  8. Feel te love,

    He has a sense of humour so I doubt offense would be taken though I think the tinfoil hats will rake in the cash as they seem to make people immune to common sense.
    You will know Dr. Coulter approves of you if you make his award list at years end.