Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Stadium is not vital to development of Maze insists Donaldson



Lagan Valley MP and Junior Minister Jeffrey DonaldsonTHERE 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 developed."

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.

Ulster Star