“an abuse of the democratic process..”

The BBC are/were reporting this morning that members of the Assembly’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee were due to be shown plans for a sports stadium at the site of the former Maze prison by the Culture Minister, the DUP’s Edwin Poots – also here. And the report claimed, “the BBC understands both the business cases for the stadium and the entire Maze site should be with Finance Minister Peter Robinson by the end of this week.” However, according to another (later) report, all is not well..

Members claimed they had been left in the dark without sight of any business plan and accused the department of using them in a public relations exercise.

The meeting was adjourned for one hour, jeopardising the minister`s planned evidence session on the 37,000-seater venue. DUP committee member Nelson McCausland said: “Until the process is complete this is an absolute waste of time having any sort of presentation.

“It seems to me that this committee is being used this morning as a platform to justify a PR exercise outside this room and to use the committee this way is an abuse of the democratic process.”

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  • willowfield

    Totally agree with Mr McCausland. This whole Maze thing stinks.

  • URQUHART

    We’re in strange days when I find myself saying this, but Nelson McCausland is absolutely right.

  • I’m just surprised to see a DUP MLA criticising a minister from his own party. Maybe all is not lost after all.

  • Nevin
  • [i]We’re in strange days when I find myself saying this, but Nelson McCausland is absolutely right.

    Posted by URQUHART on Dec 13, 2007 @ 12:03 PM[/i]

    Need I repeat the often heard quip regarding stopped clocks?

  • rubin

    The artist impressions of the Maze stadium

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7141497.stm

    look remarkably like the new Lansdowne

    http://www.lrsdc.ie/_fileupload/INT_RUGB%201200%20x%20872.jpg

    You would almost think the same guys were designing both 🙂

  • PeaceandJustice

    While Belfast is the best location for the stadium (for the atmosphere, general economy, transport links etc), the bottom line is that if Poots wants to go ahead with the Maze development then the terrorist shrine must go. If he allows it to go ahead with the shrine to the SF IRA death squads then he’ll have an interesting time at the next election along with some of his DUP colleagues. I can see the headlines “DUP Minister Approves Shrine to Sinn Fein IRA murderers”.

    On a practical note, given the amount of rain in Northern Ireland, can we have a roof like Cardiff?

  • The purpose of the architects visit was to discuss the design of the eventual stadium, which the sporting associations have agreed to use and support, not the placement of the stadium nor what other features would be in place in the area. Keeping them at the door and organising a mass walkout was rank rudness on the part of the unionists and shame on the nationalist side of the room for letting that happen by turning up in such small numbers. On the same day we have Holywood stars visit the place they act like spoilt children, way to go Unionist MLA’s.

  • willowfield

    Nonsense. The purpose was to create a PR event (note how the meeting was trailed on the Radio Ulster news this morning).

    The Committee hasn’t been properly consulted (no-one has), but Poots and his advisers thought it would be clever to show off to the members with a flashy presentation, before putting their plans on general display.

    It’s a pity that people seem to be more worried about irking a few over-paid consultants than they are about the murky process that has resulted in this Maze project being pushed at us.

  • Doctor Who

    Well done to the MLA´s. This whole fiasco has been a PR exercise from the off set. Anyone opposing the Maze has been labelled a “dinosaur”, even though the only visible feasibility studies have been forthcoming for stadiums on alternative sites.

    I for one can´t really give a toss if the provos get their terror shrine, although why it has to be associated with a proposal for a National Stadium for Northern Ireland is beyond me.

  • Godfrey

    “The purpose of the architects visit was to discuss the design of the eventual stadium, which the sporting associations have agreed to use and support, not the placement of the stadium nor what other features would be in place in the area. ”

    How can you study an achitectal design of something before agreeing first where it is going to be placed.

    This committee meeting was designed as part of PR campaign aiming to push the assembly into rubber stamping the Maze project.

  • Possibly so, I disagree, but as per usual with unionists they walk away like spoilt little children in a huff instead of taking the opportunity to use the committee meeting as intended to make their views and opinios heard. Farce isn’t strong enough a word for it.

  • iluvni

    Anything which shows up the Maze proposal as the farce it is, is a good move in my book. Well done to the MLAs today.
    Pity the Belfast Telegraph didnt have the courage to dig the dirt as they’ve tried to do with Paisley Jr and Sweeney recently.
    Instead we get bollocks from the likes of Ed Curran about building the stadium and naming it ‘the Stadium of Peace’ etc.
    barf!

  • Pounder, what would be the point in them being there?

    Would any of the media report on the questions they asked that inevitably wouldn’t be answered (like, “what makes you think this is remotely feasible?”). Of course not. Would the media even have reported that there was no feasibility study or business case available yet? Probably not. They’d just report what the executive wants them to, like the good little lapdogs they are and like they’ve been doing for the NIO all along. “Ooh look at all those pictures of the pretty stadium we could get, aren’t we lucky?”

    Why should the committee play along with the minister’s plan to use them to get a PR boost for his own pet project?

  • DM

    Media outlets running with the standard ‘Unionists anti-H-block’ reports and ignoring the various other reasons for binning the Maze and supporting a stadium in Belfast. Still, easier to paint objectors as politically motivated dinosaurs (as said above) rather than deal with their arguments. Nice to see that some DUPers aren’t all falling into line on this.

    Any chance now of seeing some figures for this site, a concrete study of the type that has been put forward for other locations, as opposed to some shiny pictures and a powerpoint?

  • mark

    “Still, easier to paint objectors as politically motivated dinosaurs (as said above) rather than deal with their arguments”

    dm

    some of the unionist/loyalist objectors here seem happy using political reasons for their arguements against the maze. Not surprising that the are ardent followers of the n.i soccer team as well, the two seem to go hand in hand.

    dr who – “I for one can´t really give a toss if the provos get their terror shrine.”

    p&j;- “if Poots wants to go ahead with the Maze development then the terrorist shrine must go. If he allows it to go ahead with the shrine to the SF IRA death squads then he’ll have an interesting tim”

  • DM

    Mark – I was referring to the unionist walkout today at Stormont, not individuals posting on here.

  • gram

    P&J;:While Belfast is the best location for the stadium (for the atmosphere, general economy, transport links etc), the bottom line is that if Poots wants to go ahead with the Maze development then the terrorist shrine must go. << Totally agree. They need a H-Block museum there instead.

  • wild turkey

    On a practical note, given the amount of rain in Northern Ireland, can we have a roof like Cardiff?

    P&J;The stadium should be constructed in an underground tunnel.

    Problems solved come rain or shrine

  • Great performance once again Edwin, the anti-Maze lobby couldn’t have asked for a better minister really.

    Wouldn’t it have made more sense (if the figures stacked up, of course) to wait until the publication of the two months late business-plan before presenting the artwork?

    If the figures stacked up, of course.

  • gram

    What’s all this nonsence about the figures. Do they actually think the think will get built without a huge cash injection from the government? Does someone actually think it’ll be cheaper to build in Belfast?

    The numbers are irrelevant. The govt has said they’ll provide the cash to build it at the maze and no where else.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Regardless of the arguments for and against a stadium at the maze-somebody put this on the agenda for todays meeting.How much is this going to cost the people of N Ireland?how much of our money has been spent on this to date?.Is this a ministerial decision or is Mr Poots acting in his capacity as an MLA for the area-its just not clear to me as we have already seen other dup ministers getting involved in other areas in their capacity as the local MLA.there needs to be some clear demarkation lines drawn.

  • gram,
    What’s all this nonsence about the figures.

    I’m not sure if that was a genuine or rhetorical question.
    From the BBC, July this year:

    Speaking on BBC’s Inside Politics, Mr Robinson said the executive would make the decision based on affordability and value for money.

    And you can obviously only make such a decision after being presented with “the figures”.

  • PeaceandJustice

    gram – “They need a H-Block museum there …”

    I’ve no desire to have a shrine to Sinn Fein IRA murdering terrorists. Obviously you do. But who would have thought a DUP minister would be the one behind it.

    Also, there is no reason to have a stadium which includes the GAA given their different requirements in terms of pitch size.

  • Doctor Who

    Mark

    Can you tell me why the shrine to terrorists should be linked to a new stadium.

    What I was saying and you know it is there should be no link. The costs of any new stadium, infrastructures in existing facilities, transport links etc not to mention centres of population are more important than a white elephant beside a shrine to murderers.

  • willowfield

    Does someone actually think it’ll be cheaper to build in Belfast?

    It would be much cheaper.

    1. No need for a huge new motorway junction, nor a new motorway lane.

    2. Private sector will pay for much of it as they can make money from it, unlike at an isolated location.

  • willowfield

    Disgraceful treatment of this story by the BBC on Evening Extra last night.

    Since when was it the role of BBC staff to express opinions on the news? The female presenter kept talking of how it was a “farce” and had some “events” person on for an interview which was simply the two of them agreeing about how “farcical” it was, how embarrassing, and what a terrible waste of money it was to fly consultants over from London.

    Why are BBC journalists more concerned about a superficial row and about two wasted air fares than they are about the substantial issue at the heart of this? Why are they not interested in the millions already spent on this project? On the secrecy that has surrounded it? On the fact that it took an 18-month effort by football supporters, using the FOI Act, to force the Government to release original site selection studies?

    The same applies to David Dunseath on Talkback with his condescending opinions and refusal to engage seriously with the real arguments about this project.

    And the Belfast Telegraph – why was David Gordon never unleashed on this project? Why do we get asinine and fawning editorials instead?

    Do journalists in NI not understand that it is their job to do more than simply present Government PR?

  • bo shank

    more on this story this morning: have to say McNarry is on the money. My sense is that the Media had been nicely teed up for this story by poots and the Executive Information Service (splitters!)and had trailed the story at lenghth, hence the need to cover their tracks with farce etc to spare their blushes at having been sucked into it and used. anyways McNarry’s statement:

    Commenting on the continued fallout over the Maze Stadium plans this morning, UUP DCAL spokesman and DCAL Deputy Chairman David McNarry said in a statement,

    “Much has been made about the architects for the site being snubbed after flying in from London. Before everybody weeps for them it should be remembered that they have currently been paid to date in the region of £3 Million for their plans. The Committee chose not to meet them yesterday because the process was, as some commentators have noted, a farce. We would be happy to welcome them again when we have all the information surrounding the project at our fingertips.

    Here are the facts:

    The Committee does not have the full picture, a business plan, the final costs or costed alternatives to the Maze stadium at present. This is like being asked to give an opinion on a car you are buying for someone without having seen anything other than how it looks.

    The Committee felt it was being bounced. A News Conference was planned for the same time as the Committee meeting by the Minister and Architects, presumably designed to unduly influence the media and attempt to railroad the Committee into accepting a Maze or nothing outcome. This is no way to treat a Committee. Our role is to scrutinise and ensure that the public in Northern Ireland get value for Money. We are not a plaything to be used in a political game of chess by the Minister. Treating a Committee in this way is corrosive to the democratic process and makes a mockery of DUP claims of accountable Ministers.

    The Committee is not in favour nor against a National Stadium at the Maze but we will not and can not make a final decision on this matter until we are properly armed with the facts, costings and a proper business plan. This is a common sense approach. We do not seek to be obstructive for obstruction’s sake but we do seek to be afforded basic courtesies and be given adequate information. The root causes of the difficulty surrounding the Maze project do not lie with the Committee. The Committee did not walk out, it was adjourned by consent and at the first opportunity apologised to the designers for circumstances which were beyond its control to which the designers replied with full understanding.”

  • Bo – do you have a link for that story?

  • gram

    oneill:What’s all this nonsence about the figures.

    I’m not sure if that was a genuine or rhetorical question. << It was a genuine question. If the stadium had to have a viable business case then it would never be built, at the Maze or in Belfast. It will only be built with a hugh injection of public money. This is a red herring. The politicians are only pretending that they are being thorough by asking for a business case.

  • gram,
    Robinson didn’t state that there would be a new stadium, merely that all the figures would have to be looked at before a decision was made.

    That decision could be to dump both the Maze and Belfast options and possibly instead to update the present facilities.

  • gram

    oneill>>gram,
    Robinson didn’t state that there would be a new stadium, merely that all the figures would have to be looked at before a decision was made.

    That decision could be to dump both the Maze and Belfast options and possibly instead to update the present facilities.<< So were will Norn Iron play their matches when Windsor falls down? They need a new stadium and they'll only get one if it can be shared with all sports. This is all just grandstanding by our wonderful politicians.

  • willowfield

    They need a new stadium and they’ll only get one if it can be shared with all sports.

    Not true: the upgrading of existing stadia has been mooted as an option.

    This is all just grandstanding by our wonderful politicians.

    And the biggest grandstanders are Poots and the other pro-Mazers.

  • iluvni

    “So were will Norn Iron play their matches when Windsor falls down? They need a new stadium and they’ll only get one if it can be shared with all sports.”

    Oh my, dont tell me nothing came of the suggestion for the GAA to offer us Croke Park in the meantime?

  • tom

    ‘Oh my, dont tell me nothing came of the suggestion for the GAA to offer us Croke Park in the meantime?’

    I doubt if the sectarian chants of ‘no surrender’ would very welcome at any ground.

  • Billy

    P&J;”Also, there is no reason to have a stadium which includes the GAA given their different requirements in terms of pitch size”

    Another classic! So, this stadium will be financed by taxpayers money. I’m not a GAA member or supporter myself but are you claiming that the GAA and it’s members don’t pay taxes?

    So, you think that the govt should pay millions to build a new stadium but tell the GAA (or if you say what you really mean – Catholics) that they can’t use it. Somehow, I think that govt are neither as prejudiced or as stupid as you so I really can’t see this happening.

    The real truth is that the GAA could easily double the amount of fans that NI soccer can bring – a fact that many Unionists don’t like to be publicised.

    It must be terrible for you that we don’t live in a pre 1968 world and we taigs will no longer sit at the back of the bus.

    If this stadium is built (irrespective of location), the GAA (i.e. Catholics) will have as much right to use it as anyone else.

    If you don’t like it, tough shit!

  • willowfield

    Billy Liar

    1. The possessive “its” doesn’t take an apostrophe. That’s schoolboy stuff.

    2. A stadium in Belfast wouldn’t neccessarily need to be financed by taxpayers’ money.

    3. If it were, and it were not to include the GAA (who are scared to play in Belfast), the GAA could be given the equivalent money in the form of grant to develop its own stadia.

  • Paul

    So Willowfield,

    so you’re advocating that the the UK treasury pay for two stadiums?
    Say one 25k capacity stadium for IFA/IRFU, and another 40k capacity stadium for the GAA?

    On a scale of one to ten, how likely do you think it is that the UK govt will happily duplicate resources just because NI soccer fans don’t want to share with the GAA?

  • willowfield

    so you’re advocating that the the UK treasury pay for two stadiums?

    No.

    I’m advocating the building of one stadium in Belfast, primarily funded by the private sector. If the GAA were to opt not to be part of it, then they should be compensated by the granting of an equivalent amount of any money being put forward by the Government to subsidise the private development in Belfast.

    This would (a) save the Treasury millions; and (b) satisfy all three sports.

    Say one 25k capacity stadium for IFA/IRFU, and another 40k capacity stadium for the GAA?

    No.

    On a scale of one to ten, how likely do you think it is that the UK govt will happily duplicate resources just because NI soccer fans don’t want to share with the GAA?

    In the scenario above it would be the GAA not wanting to share with football and rugby. But I’m not advocating “duplicating resources” anyway so the question is irrelevant.