National Stadium

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:30 am on 11th June 2007.

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Photo of David Burnside David Burnside UUP 3:30 am, 11th June 2007

2.   asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what steps he is taking to distance himself from all decisions relating to the location of a national stadium on the Maze site.        (AQO 2/07)

Photo of David Burnside David Burnside UUP

I thank the Minister for a short answer. That is excellent. The Minister will have learned by now that the location of the Maze stadium is contentious, not least because of the proposal by some to have a commemoration of terrorism and criminality enshrined in the stadium. Does the Minister agree that, with the different views from the GAA and the football associations, soccer and rugby union, there is a need for a truly independent financial feasibility study before it is finally decided, once and for all, where the national stadium should be? Because the Minister has a vested interest in his own constituency, will he not be seen to be partially involved in the decision-making process if he does not set up an independent inquiry?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I am not sure where the Member has been. The independent feasibility study took place and was completed in March 2005, when Angela Smith announced that the stadium would be sited at the Maze. After the independent feasibility study — I understand that the Member perhaps had other things happening in 2005 that may have clouded his knowledge of current issues — the decision was made by others, and we will examine the issue as a full business case. If the figures stack up, the matter will proceed.

Photo of Pat Ramsey Pat Ramsey Social Democratic and Labour Party

The Minister is clearly aware of the current level of interest in the Maze project and that the project was discussed at the previous three meetings of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee. Will he give a commitment to retain the Maze consultation panel to enable it to give a presentation and an appraisal of its findings and to answer questions on how the decision on the site was reached?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The panel is not the responsibility of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure; it is the responsibility of the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister. I understand that that office has stood down the panel.