Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Fury over leak against Maze stadium plan

Sinn Fein Vow to Veto Proposals to Ditch Maze

How the proposed National Stadium at the Maze would have looked.

How the proposed National Stadium at the Maze would have looked.

OPPONENTS of the Maze stadium claim a leaked document has blown the full-time whistle on the plan.

What was supposed to be a confidential report was leaked earlier this week and said that building National Stadium would cost more than three times the original estimate.

However, Sinn Fein have questioned the figures in the document and warned that they will veto any plans to scrap the project.

The document says the cost of the arena, hosting Football, Rugby and GAA, would top 379m over the next seven years.

In the report, Finance Minister and soon-tobe First Minister, Peter Robinson. apparently says the proposed expenditure does not justify the benefits to community cohesion.

And the memo, sent to ministers by Mr Robinson, added: The case is unusual in that both accounting officers have concluded that a value for money case has not been demonstrated."

However local Sinn Fein MLA Paul Butler accused the Department of Finance and Personnel of being involved in a 'misinformation campaign' to undermine the stadium. He said, "In recent weeks off the record briefings to journalists by the DFP has resulted in the public being misled about the likely costs of locating a new stadium at the Maze-Long Kesh site.

"Several articles have appeared in the press and news outlets suggesting that the cost of the new stadium has dramatically increased.

"The fact is that Price WaterhouseCooper, a reputable financial consultancy firm, investigated the entire site and the projects being planned for it including the stadium and the Conflict Transformation Centre and described them as 'value fon money'. "There is only one credible location for a multi-sports stadium and that is the Maze-Long Kesh. It is the only site which has all-party support and the support of the three sporting organisations: GAA, rugby and soccer."

Mr Paul Butler continued, "There is a perception that the DUP are running things, but they will not be putting this through the Executive without our agreement.

"Our view is that if there is not a stadium on the Long Kesh site, there won't be a stadium anywhere. It has been clear for some time that Peter Robinson is against the project and he is now just finding figures and arguments to justify that."

'A Belfast parliament for a Belfast people' says Crawford

LISBURN Councillors have reacted angrily to the leak suggesting the Maze proposals are to be rejected.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Ronnie Crawford said such a decision would simply be based on a 'pro-Belfast agenda'.

Mr Crawford said: "If, as widely leaked by the DUP, Peter Robinson is about to announce there will be no National Stadium at the Maze or anywhere else for that matter, he will confirm what we all suspect - that the Northern Ireland Assembly is a Belfast parliament for a Belfast people.

"Presumably the failure to proceed with the National Stadium will be accompanied by regrets that the business case "does not stack up" etc., etc. Lisburn Council will require a detailed anyalsis of any such statement and we expect that the wider economic benefits, not just to Lisburn, will have been taken into account.

"We will also demand to know how, if the National Stadium used by all three sports is not economically viable, a 25,000 spectator football only stadium, to be built on a site as yet unknown and used on far fewer occasions than a National Stadium, can be viable?

"Lisburn City Council has been denied any information whatsoever on the progress of the debate within the Executive, but we will insist on any decision being made on the right and proper grounds and not as a part of a strategy to counter the threat to existing parties from the TUV at the European elections next year."

Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn added: "The recent claim from the Finance Minister that the cost of Maze Stadium project are 'soaring' is just the latest of a series of blatant Unionist attempts to shirk responsibility to provide a world-class stadium and leisure facility for Northern Ireland.

"The outcome, almost inevitably, will be the maintenance of three shoddy stadiums in the Belfast area, with a 'Republican Shrine' put in place at the Maze site anyway.

"If Unionists were prepared to show any vision it could be vastly better. There is potential for a Centre which pays full regard, and full tribute, not to those who caused the conflict but' to those who suffered it. Next to it, we could have a world-class multi-sports stadium of use not just for sporting fixtures but for events such as concerts, agricultural shows or conferences.

"At the same time, we could upgrade transport position in the entire Belfast-Lisburn-Dublin corridor, and from Lisburn to the Airport. All of this would be provided on a valuable site which comes at no cost to the taxpayer.

"This Executive has already run away from its responsibilities on the Victims Commission, on strong local government, and on city centre regeneration. Now we are going to see another golden opportunity passed up, because people will not take responsibility for genuinely shared government."

Ulster Star