HAS MP BLOWN THE FINAL WHISTLE ON AMBITIOUS
PLANS FOR NATIONAL STADIUM?
by JULIE ANN SPENCE
will be significant development at the site of the former Maze
Prison, regardless of whether or not the National Stadium gets
the go-ahead, Lagan Valley MP and Junior Minister Jeffrey
Donaldson has said.
With a decision due in a few weeks and
speculation rife that Sports Minister Gregory Campbell will turn
down the plan to build a national multi-sports stadium, Mr
Donaldson insisted the stadium was not the 'be all and end all'
for the development and said the opportunity presented at the
Maze would not be lost.
"It would be entirely wrong and a huge wasted
opportunity if the Maze site was designated for housing," he
said. "There is scope for doing many other things and we are
currently in discussions with other potential investors who are
looking carefully at relocating to the Maze site.
"There is no way we are going to let this
prime opportunity go without getting something that will provide
real benefits, not only for the local community but for the
whole of Northern Ireland.
"Let us be clear about this. Whether Northern
Ireland gets a national stadium or not, the Maze site will be
However, the Vice Chairman of Lisburn City
Council's Leisure Services Committee, Councillor David Archer,
urged Mr Campbell to give the stadium the go-ahead.
"I was struck when watching the official
handover to the UK as the new Olympic host city at Sunday's
ceremony of the special role Northern Ireland and in particular
a national stadium at the Maze could play in the 2012 Olympics,"
said Mr Archer.
"Likewise it signals what an absolute tragedy it would be if
this once in a lifetime opportunity was lost due to the ongoing
political impasse at Stormont. "It is imperative we get an
immediate positive decision to deliver a National Stadium at the
Maze if we are to exploit this once in a lifetime Olympic
opportunity. Failure to do so will have far reaching
consequences," he concluded.