A REPORT in the Guardian newspaper claims
Finance Minister Peter Robinson is set to ditch plans for a
£140m national sports stadium on the site of the Maze prison in
one of his last acts before taking over as First Minister.
The report says the plan for the shared
stadium for football, rugby, and gaelic will be abandoned and
the site will be used instead for a leisure and retail complex.
Speaking after the publication of the story,
Mr Robinson confirmed a decision should be taken by the end of
And he confirmed that if the stadium did not
go ahead, something would be built on the site.
"I don't think it is sufficient to say that
if the Maze was not to proceed that we would walk away and do
nothing with it," he said. "No more is it sensible to say that
if the Maze was not to go ahead that we would do nothing with
football, rugby and GAA facilities elsewhere."
The Maze is the only site on which the three
sports bodies here have all agreed on and the GAA have made it
clear they will not support any alternative scheme.
Opposition has come from some unionists who
are opposed to the planned conflict resolution centre in a
former H block on the site. Some soccer supporters' clubs have
also campaigned against it but the bulk of the opposition has
come from Belfast based politicians.
Belfast City Council have claimed there has
been interest in building a 25,000 capacity football-only ground
to replace Windsor Park as the home of the national team, but so
far they have not revealed any concrete proposals.
If Mr Robinson scraps the Maze plan they will
be under immediate pressure to deliver on their claims that a
number of developers are anxious to build the stadium in
Rugby will almost certainly be happy to
remain at a refurbished, larger capacity Ravenhill, while the
GAA will receive millions to improve facilities at Casement Park
in West Belfast.