This morning, I took part in a group visit to Long Kesh.

We had an official tour guide - a pleasant civil servant from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister's Department - but it was the ex-prisoners in the group who really provided the flavour. It was an awesome experience, visiting the H-blocks, the cages, going up into a watchtower...and most of all, standing in the hospital room where Bobby Sands died. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to feel a chill down my spine.

Most of the compound is in an advanced state of dereliction, overrun by weeds and rabbits. As most readers will know there has been a debate over what should be done with it. That is still to be fully determined, but it is agreed that parts of it - including the hospital and at least one of the H-blocks and cages - will be preserved and a conflict transformation zone established on the premises. I think this is an appropriate use of the land, and I'm very thankful that those who wished to see the prison buildings torn down did not prevail. Like it or not, this place is a part of Irish history - in terms of recent history in particular, an important part - and it would be a disgrace to deny future generations the right to experience what I did today.


Chris Gaskin said...

I agree

It should be kept as a living history musemn.

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's have our noses rubbed in it, eh?

Wednesday said...

Your nose isn't "rubbed into" something by its very existence. If you're not interested in such a museum, it's very simple, don't go.

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