Stadium splits DUP…

THERE is disagreement in the DUP about where the sports stadium should be. First Minister Ian Paisley and Sports Minister Edwin Poots have said ‘no’ to a Belfast stadium, but a third, Nigel Dodds, has said a stadium at the former Maze Prison site would not be acceptable if the complex also contained “a shrine to IRA terrorism”. He said: “However it is dressed up, whatever spin is deployed, the preservation of a section of the H-Blocks – including the hospital wing – would become a shrine to the terrorists who committed suicide in the Maze in the 1980s (the republican hunger strikes). That would be obnoxious to the vast majority of people and is something unionist people cannot accept. But that appears to be the prerequisite as far as Sinn Fein is concerned if a stadium is to be built at the Maze.” Tomorrow on Inside Politics, Poots will argue that the preservation order already placed on an H block and the medical wing where Bobby Sands died invalidates his party colleague’s argument.

  • GavBelfast

    Do chummy-sounding blogs from political editors help dispel the view that people have been expressing on the Let’s Talk thread?

  • Time Will Tell

    According to Bob McCartney Stormont is a shrine to IRA terrorism

  • Belfast Gonzo


    That’s unfair, as Devenport has nothing to do with Let’s Talk.

  • GavBelfast

    I know he hasn’t, but it occurred to me as I read the blog and read the Let’s Talk thread. Maybe it is unfair, maybe it isn’t.

    And it does seem too chummy / whimsical, but it’s not alone in that.

  • Doctor Who

    This is a far too important decision to be left in the hands of Mr.Poots.

    He has shown himself to be uncompromising both with his one week deadline and all major study plans stating that the Maze site is completely wrong.

    It is also worth noting that Poots himself is not a sporting man, he has never watched a Northern Ireland match, he has been to a few Ulster Rugby matches and I persume he has never been at a GAA ground in his life.

    His only argument for the Maze is that it will be able to accomodate more car drivers than Belfast. This argument doesn´t stand up when you consider that Belfast has 100,000 cars arriving in the city on a daily basis. He ignores the fact that in an age when we should be encouraging more people to use public transport, the Maze has no infrastructure to accomodate this, one could also expect no rail line to be built beside the new proposed white elephant.

    What he should do is come clean and state he is towing the govt. line, it is a political decision and if an investor came in tomorrow and proposed a cost effective plan for a stadium in Belfast at no cost to the tax payer, it still wouldn´t matter.

    What this proposal needs is clear transparency. Public debate and accountability. The DUP are seriously underestimating just how emotive this matter is.

    One has to wonder wether Poots has bothered to take a look at Cardiff´s splendid Millenium stadium and see exactly how this spectacle has rejuvenated the centre of Cardiff. He talks of the lifeless Reebok stadium now being acceptable to the fans of Bolton Wanderers after heavy initial criticism, although you would be hard pushed to find a single Bolton fan who wouldn´t perfer their stadium actually in Bolton.

    As usual the sentiments from Papa Doc are as expected from this dinosaur of the past, and little did I know of the plans to include a dog track for that matter.

    Personally I couldn´t give a chicken supper if there was a memorial to the Hunger Strikers in a Maze museum. That matter has little bearing on the fact that any credible veasibility study on the new stadium project, have all stated that Belfast is the only reasonable option.

    Could this be a deliberate ploy by the DUP to divert the opposoition to the Maze into a sectarian argument.

  • Nationalist

    Lets face it Dodds would argue against anything that has a hint of green on it.

    No doubt Dodds will be red with rage and demanding the parades commission refuse the soon to be requested parade from Ligoneil down the Crumlin Road to Ardoyne by Nationalists.

    It will be interesting to see how the Parades Commission deal with the equality issue when thios lands on their desk. I am wondering if the (Ex) Orange members and supporters on the commission support the right of Nationalists to walk shared Roads and put on show the Nationalist culture for the world to see or will they demand it be blocked in it’s entirity?

    Will the MP (Doods) and Unionist MLA’s for the North Belfast area support the right of the Nationalist people in Ligoneil to walk the only road into Belfast, Crumlin Road, which means them having to pass along a 500 metre stretch of road through a Unionist area – a similar distance which Loyalists need to go through past Ardoyne.

    Does anyone think that Dodds will stand up for equal rights so that Nationalists can put their culture on show for the world?

  • nick p.

    Yah boo sucks !!! Poots confirms bangor getting 50m swiming pool.

  • Plum Duff

    Has anyone considered the possibility of a ‘Battle of the Two Cities’ in this, surprising!, dividing of the waters within the DUP ?

    Dodds is a Belfast MLA. Poots is a Lisburn MLA. The Maze is where…? Conflict of interest? Naaaah, no way. DUP are Christians – Mammon, camel, eye of needle, etc. Couldn’t possibly happen.

    So, rather than attack a colleague, Dodds goes for the easiest target in the DUP’s hate list. Guess who?

    Motivation? Belfast gets the dosh; Lisburn gets the push.


  • páid

    Belfast Gonzo you write,

    the preservation of a section of the H-Blocks – including the hospital wing…. would be obnoxious to the vast majority of people”

    Erm, don’t you mean the vast majority of the “chosen people” or have you evidence to back up your claim?

  • curious

    Anyone notice the absence of Jeffrey Donaldson’s support for Edwin Poots in this issue?

  • sammaguire

    Slightly off the stadium issue but do northerners seriously really take Lisburn to be a city. Surely it’s just a suburb of Belfast. Tallaght, 10 miles from Dublin City Centre has a population of 100,000 a good bit bigger than Lisburn. Nobody wants to make it a city; it’s a suburb just like Lisburn.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    It’s a quote from Dodds.

  • Crataegus


    Slightly off the stadium issue but do northerners seriously really take Lisburn to be a city. Surely it’s just a suburb of Belfast.

    Exactly, as is Bangor, Castlereagh, Newtownabbey, and Carrick. Someone politicians should take a good look at the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan. They were suburbs some with low rates because they didn’t suffer the same problems as Belfast central. The development and service provision of all need to be coordinated.

    With regards stadium & the proposed shrine at the maze (God how you Irish love to wallow in oppression and martyrdom) this should have absolutely nothing to do with the site of the stadium. It is a separate issue. The stadium site should be chosen on other grounds. A colleague by chance is looking at a project involving let us say sports activities, large hotel etc and the land would certainly accommodate a stadium and is near transport node, ideal really. I mentioned the stadium and the opinion was why waste one’s time in such a political minefield better to steer well clear. The political playing around may well have already undermined private sector confidence.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    As one unfortunate enough to be a citizen of Lisburn, I can confirm that the notion of it being a city is a rather sad joke.

    On the (dubious) plus side, it has a big cineplex and two large shopping centres, including Sprucefield.
    On the minus side, it has a huge population of spides and pensioners (some in both categories), no hotel, no decent restaurants, no decent home grown shops and absolutely nothing to attract anyone.

    Having said that, Newry was given city status at the same time. One sectarian hole traded off for another one suspects.

    As regards the Maze white elephant, none of the three sporting organisations seem particularly keen on the idea. Why not just throw a wad of cash at Casement, Windsor & Ravenhill to update their grounds and zone the Maze site for affordable housing? Too sensible?

    There’s more than enough ‘conflict resolution’ (ha ha ha) sites dotted round NI in the form of illegal billboards and memorials without one everybody is expected to pay for.

  • DisgustedVoter

    Its a joke that Poots is a Lisburn councillor as well as minister for sport – how can he possible be neutral in the argument. He needs to resign one or other.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Gerry Lvs Castro

    it is one thing to slag off Lisburn but to dis Newry with “one sectarian hole traded off for another one suspects” is not justified. With the canal, the arhiticeture and the immediate rural area sorrounding it make it a fairly attractive location.

    Just because you dis a mainly prod gaffe do you find the need for balance to dis a mainly Fenian one?

  • oh dear, oh dear

    More and more, I’m thinking that Poots & Paisley are stitching something up between themselves. It got Dodds spooked into delivering interviews outside his N Belfast constituency office, and a bemused Peter Robinson pouring cold water on the whole idea saying he hasn’t seen any figures.

    I thought the question from Sammy Wilson on June 11 ( was a clever piece of stage management. PA gave the DUP a dream headline on the back of it – ‘NO `SHRINE’ TO HUNGER STRIKERS AT MAZE, VOWS MINISTER’.

    What the question was supposed to do was separate a DUP Minister from Maze stadium/shrine question. Poots decides national stadia – OFMDFM decide on terror shrines/conflict resolution centres. That’s it – Poots is away in the smoke.

    Maybe the Paisleys hope that when the shrine question gets booted into OFMDFM they can either block or transform it into a proposal less ‘obnoxious'(?).

    And Paisley is going with Poots ( The ‘powers that be’ have decided it. The Big Man is cosseted by decisions made by mere squatters after all.

    But I can see real problems with this. If the Wilson/Poots setup on June 11 was designed to deflect criticism from a DUP Minister, then it wasn’t successful. Sammy’s question was on the Maze prison. Poots’s answer was on the Maze stadium. In most people’s minds they’re one in the same. It’s not the kind of technicality that gets people off Scot-free – especially when you’re the face of the Maze project.

    Poots needs to make a stadium announcement – he may yet get kudos if he does it soon. He simply doesn’t need to stick it beside a hunger strike museum. The Maze is costing time and considerable political capital.

    The deadline demand was also a step too far. Poots is trying to regain control but he’s causing more problems than he’s curing. How can the DUP look like sensible and responsible public servants if they push the Maze past an unnecessary deadline without knowing what the finances are? That kind of lax financial control could lead to weeks of testimony in the Public Accounts Committee/NI Affairs Committee and negative PA stories – plus David Gordon doing his Investigations Reporter bit in the Bel Tel. And if Robinson okays this project the media will come gunning for him . Robinson will not want that if Paisley retires & the DUP want to elect a successor.

    Dodds and Robinson may be mindful of leadership succession but it’s genuinely very uncomfortable stuff. Too many people are against/dubious of the project. No matter how Poots manoeuvres he’s costing the DUP.

    Also on June 11, David Burnside asked Poots what steps he is taking to distance himself from all decisions relating to the location of a national stadium on the Maze site. Poots’s reply? ‘None.’ I think this is the problem. Poots is off on a personal crusade. It’s doing no favours for the DUP and Dodds and Robinson simply have to act because the Big Man won’t. i can’t see how Paisley Snr failed identified this as a major problem. Why has he allowed this to go on for so long? The DUP must abandon the Maze project – if for no other reason than the selfish desire to avoid more blue-on-blue interviews and enduring political damage.

  • Interesting to hear Jarlath Burns take on the stadium debate from a GAA perspective on the Politics Show yesterday. He said that there was no desire for the Maze stadium from the GAA, but that an agreement had been made with SF to support it, in return for their acquiesence in the debates about the despicable rules they had regarding the security forces etc.

  • Crataegus

    If I am putting together a proposal to develop a site I have to assess the market and produce a business plan, costs, benefits cash flow and all the rest of it. On large building projects you cannot afford to be sentimental, get it wrong and it will be an economic liability. Every instinct I have as a developer says the Maze is the wrong location, but would make an excellent housing site.

    There are three unrelated strands in this debate, what do you do with the Maze Prison; what development would give the best economic return for the Maze site and where in NI is the best location for the stadium.

    The political symbolism attached to the stadium should be about making it an economic success. We cannot afford to spend large sums on a white elephant. If we can’t come up with a sound proposal then we should not build it. The money should instead be spent on other services.