Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


`No decisions' taken on future of Maze insists Donaldson



No decision made on new stadium insists Donaldson

No decision made on new stadium insists Donaldson

JUNIOR Minister Jeffrey Donaldson has rubbished reports that a deal has been struck between the DUP and Sinn Fein which would spell the end of a National Stadium at the Maze and the go ahead for a conflict resolution centre.

Speculation was mounting this week that a deal had been agreed between the two parties which would suspend a decision on the National Stadium for four years, whilst a refurbishment of Windsor Park with the building of a new 4,000 seat capacity stand would see International football remain at its current home.

However, Mr Donaldson said that he could "state categorically that no decisions have been made'.

"As a Minister working on this I can state categorically that no decisions have been made either in relation to the National Stadium or any Conflict Resolution Centre" he said.

"Discussions are continuing on both these projects and we hope to have a decision soon."

Mr Donaldson continued: "What is clear is that the Maze site will develop into one of the major investment sites in Northern Ireland. We have a number of expressions of interest in the site and we are looking at these as well as talking about the stadium. "Let me make it absolutely clear there is no question of any kind of shrine, either to the hunger strikers or anything else, being located on the site."

Despite his assurances members of the Ulster Unionist Party in Lisburn reacted angrily to the reports, with Mayor Councillor Ronnie Crawford saying he believed the National Stadium would "never go ahead".

"If this report is true then it will not strr-prise the people of Lisburn that Sinn Fein and DUP has reached agreement which will give Sinn Fein their shrine and the four Belfast City Councillors on the Executive an extension to their beloved Windsor Park. "The National Stadium will never go ahead because there was never the will for it amongst the Belfast-dominated parties in the first place and the Executive has no intention whatsoever of re-visiting the project. With the increasing levels of unemployment and the fall in commodity prices, now is most propitious time to proceed with the Stadium and boost the failing economy. Costs will be even more expensive in four years time and the Executive should stop taking the people of Northern Ireland for fools.

Alderman Ivan Davis added: "The news would be no surprise. It's been dragging on for seven years and it has always been obvious that a deal would be done by the two largest parties. I have always felt that the former Sports Minister (Edwin Poots) support for the stadium cost him his Ministerial role and I believe that has now been vindicated. I would also have to question what role the other parties are playing, it seems the DUP and Sinn Fein can do what they like."

Councillor David Archer, Vice Chairman of the Council's Leisure Services Committee stated: "If today's reports are to be believed then these developments are well and truly breathtaking.

"The alleged deal in question represents a fair deal for Belfast and a kick in the teeth for Lisburn," he added.

"I hope all those people who whinged and whined about not wanting a multi-sports stadium at the Maze because a conflict transformation centre was central to the proposal are happy with themselves today. Their schoolboy-like negotiations have resulted in no stadium and the one thing they were opposed to happening, a conflict transformation centre is proceeding."

Ulster Star