Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Battle to save stadium goes into extra time
Donaldson and Poots join forces in fight for Maze

Jeffrey DonaldsonEdwin PootsLAGAN 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.

Mr 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 been taken.

"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

Jim AllisterTRADITIONAL 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."


Ulster Star