Sinn Fein Vow to Veto Proposals to Ditch Maze
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
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
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
"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
'A Belfast parliament for a Belfast people'
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
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."