“in the event of a grave or catastrophic event..”

As Mark Devenport has noted on his blog, despite the BBC reporting in September 2007 that a spokesman for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister was able to state “There is no list of people who would be admitted into it”, the deputy First Minister told the Assembly yesterday – “I know absolutely nothing about a bunker in Ballymena..” However, now that the emergency bunker – built between 1987-89 at an apparent cost of £300-400million and with room for 235 people – has been brought to their attention again the Northern Ireland Executive are reportedly trying to sell it..From the Assembly’s Official Report

Mr Attwood: I have a serous question in relation to emergency planning. Will the Minister confirm whether a bunker has been constructed, allegedly in or around Ballymena, so that, in the event of a grave or catastrophic event, there would be a place of refuge?

A Member: For Junior? [Laughter.]

Mr Attwood: I suspect that more people than Junior might go to that place of refuge. [Laughter.]

In the event of a grave or catastrophic event, there would be a place of refuge for up to 300 people. Is the Minister aware that a bunker has been constructed? Did it cost between £300 million and £400 million? Is he prepared to lodge in the Assembly Library a list of the titles of the 300 people who may avail of that place of refuge? If that is true, does the Minister agree that it is preposterous, and that there are far better projects in the North on which public money could be spent?

The deputy First Minister: That sounds preposterous to me, and I hope that I am not one of those 300 people. I know absolutely nothing about a bunker in Ballymena or a list of 300 names. However, if it is a serious question — and I presume that it is — we will all be interested in hearing the answer from whoever constructed the bunker.

Mr Deputy Speaker: If there is a bunker, places in it will be allocated purely on a points system. [Laughter.]

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  • There were many Cold War bunkers built in that period in the UK. One in the east of Scotland serving the great & good of Edinburgh was completed the week that the Berlin wall came down and the Cold war ended…………….
    It has, to my knowledge never been used,but is still maintained.

  • gewurztraminer

    Allegedly, beneath the University of Ulster at Coleraine, lies another bunker. I suppose that gives an answer to the age old question, “what is the point of UUC?”

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    One you may not have seen, but may have seen the signage for is the bunker at Kelvedon Hatch in Essex, between Brentwood and Ongar on the A128.

    I doubt you’d get £6 off people to nosey around the one in Ballymena, but if it’s not “active” anymore, they may as well try to get some use out of it…

    Didn’t there used to be a privately owned non-governmental bunker in Bangor? A couple of hundred quid a year and you could reserve your space in the horror of the aftermath, with an annual disco thrown in if armageddon failed to materialise…

  • Doomsday

    I remember that a notice appeared in the weekly press in the Lurgan/Portadown area around the same time (1987-89)seeking planning permission for a bunker in Craigavon. It was included in the weekly list of planning application which are published by the Planning Service. When Planning Service were contacted, they said that because the “proposed development” received Crown immunity, planning permission was not needed and no details could be given to the public.

    Indeed, if I recall correctly, Planning service also said that the inclusion of the item amongst the applications was a clerical oversight and that it should not have been made public at all. Also if I’m right the location was lands at the rear of BT at the Carn Industrial estate. Don’t know if it was ever built or not.

  • One is reminded of the efficacy of the Maginot line…….

    there was certainly a programe of bunker building by HMG in the late 80s.
    It was,after all, the age of Thatcher/Reagan/Cruise/Pershing.

    Thankfully they were never needed.

  • Peter Brown

    I thought this one was well known – it can be found at the back of the Woodside Road Industrial Estate near the Seven FM office actually where the above ground portion can be clearly seen from the public road – has the Beeb not toured it when it was marketed before and I remember certain Ballymena councillors touting it as a new bomb proof site for NIFSL after the Belvoir bomb….

  • DC

    Well if there is a bunker likely that Sweeney built it.

  • joeCanuck

    Well, Junior is pretty good at digging holes too.

  • Danny O’Connor

    about one cubic foot of concrete for junior to bury his head in would be good enough for me.

  • Ahem

    Phil: “there was certainly a programe of bunker building by HMG in the late 80s. It was,after all, the age of Thatcher/Reagan/Cruise/Pershing”. Yeah, they were the bad guys, and they made such a bad job of ending the Cold War too. If only we had had more Carters and Callaghans, and Brezhnewvs too. JesusChristgivemefuckingstrength.