Sinn Fein Reaffirm Maze 'Veto'

The DUP can expect a Sinn Fein to block any plans to axe a Northern Ireland national stadium at the site of the former Maze prison.

The party's announcement, earlier this week, was met with SDLP fears of a lost opportunity for reconciliation.

Sinn Fein questioned the figures detailed in the economic appraisal for the site, on which the final decision will be based. The party has insisted the stadium will not be located anywhere else.

MLA Paul Butler said he believed there was a notion that the DUP are "running things", but suggested Executive agreement must be met before any plans are put through.

Mr Bulter said: "It has been clear for some time that Peter Robinson is against the [Maze] project and he is now just finding figures and arguments to justify that."

The Lagan Valley Assembly member will challenge claims that a stadium, at the Maze, could only be filled twice a year.

The SDLP's Declan O'Loan said he expected a "considerable row" around the Executive table on the issue, which he predicts will split along unionist and nationalist lines.

Mr O'Loan told the Belfast Telegraph: "This is what everything has been building up to. It will be a major lost opportunity, not least in the area of investment, but in terms of the loss of a stadium shared by the three main sports and the symbol that could be for reconciliation."

Chief Executive of the IFA, Howard Wells, said the Government needs to recognise the needs for a Plan B, as a new stadium will be required within two years.

Sir Reg Empey, leader of the UUP, said a proposed conflict transformation centre at the Maze needed to be "separated out" from the plans.

Last week, Finance Minister Peter Robinson received the official assessment of the Maze as a viable site; sources say costs detailed in the proposal are now much greater that originally expected.

See: Robinson Presented With 'Inflated' Maze Assessment


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