Donaldson and Poots join forces in fight for
Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and and his DUP colleague Edwin
Poots have revealed they are holding lastminute talks aimed at
securing the National Stadium for the Maze.
Mr Donaldson said he and his colleagues had
not given up on the stadium issue and that 'lengthy discussions'
were being held in an attempt to 'break the impasse'.
"Despite our best efforts, we have met with
stiff opposition to the proposed stadium on the Maze site,
including from Belfast interests and some elements of the
Northern Ireland Football Supporters Group," said Mr Donaldson.
"At a political level, despite initial support for the Maze
master plan, there has been deep disagreement over the Stadium
and the proposed Conflict Transformation Centre.
Donaldson, who last week said he was confident there would be a
substantial development at the Maze even if the stadium plan is
kicked into touch, went on to say: "Neither I nor my Lagan
Valley colleagues have given up on the stadium issue. This week
Edwin Poots and I have been involved in further lengthy
discussions at Stormont about the Maze and the stadium project
and we have explored in detail a number of proposals aimed at
trying to break the current impasse.
"I appreciate that time is running out, but
we are determined to keep trying to see if political agreement
can be achieved on this important issue. Further talks are
planned for later this week and next week at political
leadership level and we have ensured that the Maze issue is high
up the agenda for those discussions.
"Our priority remains achieving a resolution
to the stadium issue and moving the redevelopment of the Maze
site forward as quickly as possible," he concluded.
However, Ulster Unionist MLA Basil McCrea
said he believed a decision on the National Stadium had already
"I believe we need the National Stadium and
the only place for it is Lisburn," he said. "I feel the decision
has been taken but I think it will be put on the long finger and
I think that is a dangerous mistake because then we won't be
ready for the Olympics in 2012.
"The only thing that can change the decision
is overwhelming public opinion from outside Lisburn and I don't
think that is there."
Allister warns over EU funding for Maze centre
Unionist MEP Jim Allister has called on the EU to resist any
funding for a conflict resolution centre at the site of the
former Maze Prison.
Raising the issue at the start of the first
sitting of the new term of the European Parliament in Brussels,
Mr Allister said: "The EU, often with good intentions, shows
interest in Northern Ireland. However, today I warn it against
funding a project of immense divisive
potential. I refer to the foolish embracing
in the EU Task Force Report, at the behest of the DUP/Sinn Fein
leaders of the Northern Ireland Executive, of possible support
for a so called 'conflict resolution centre' at the site of the
former prison at the Maze.
"However it is dressed up, whatever spin is
deployed, the preservation of a section of the H-Blocks �
including the hospital wing � would
become a shrine to the terrorists who
committed suicide in the Maze in the 1980s. That would be
obnoxious to the vast majority of people and is something
unionist people cannot accept.
"Thus I caution the Commission against itself
meddling with such an explosive issue and being used by those
anxious to hide behind the EU in delivering something which
shall severely set back relations in Northern Ireland."