10/03/2003

Maze regeneration panel meets

NIO Economic Policy Minister Ian Pearson has welcomed the creation of the consultative panel to deal with the regeneration of the Maze and Long Kesh security site.

The inaugural meeting of the Maze Consultation Panel was held at the offices of Lisburn City Council this morning.

Mr Pearson said that panel was another step forward in "regenerating a site which has the potential to play a hugely important part in the whole Reform and Reinvestment Initiative".

He added: “The transfer of the site, involving 360 acres close to the main motorway system must be seen in a regional context. Such a large and strategically situated site has great potential and needs careful consideration.

“The panel’s work will involve spearheading a wide ranging consultation programme and bringing forward a report on the potential use of the site. The panel hope to provide a report within the next six months which will outline the way ahead for further regeneration of the site.”

The panel is made up of nominees from the four main political parties, representatives from a number of key government departments and the Chief Executive of Lisburn City Council. It will be chaired by David Campbell with vice chair, Michael McKernan, who have been nominated by the former First Minister and Deputy First Minister respectively. The group also includes Mr Edwin Poots MLA, Mr Mairtin OMuilleoir, Mrs Gerry Cosgrove and Mr Roy Bailie CBE.

This week saw the official handover from the Ministry of Defence of the former military base element of the site which incorporates 90 acres. The remaining 270 acres, which houses the Maze prison, is expected to be handed over in 2004.

Former MoD bases at Magherafelt and the Malone Road in Belfast were also officially handed over this week. A fourth base, Ebrington Barracks in Londonderry is due to be handed over later this year.

(GMcG)

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