Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Maze stadium plan will not grow weeds, insists McGuinness

No decision has been taken on the Maze stadium project, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said.

And while the bill for the Maze refurbishment have been put at between £86-£95m — excluding infrastructure costs — no costings of upgrading existing stadiums for the three main sports involved, football, rugby and GAA, have been completed.

"Under no circumstances," Mr McGuinness told MLAs at Assembly question time, "are we going to allow (the Maze site) to grow weeds."

Mr McGuinness faced questions over the Maze including from former Sports Minister Edwin Poots who sought assurances that a contingency plan is put in place for the Maze before 'Plan A' is dropped.

But Mr McGuinness urged the ex-DUP minister to show the evidence for his claims that senior civil servants have attempted to thwart plans for the stadium.

The exchanges came after Mr Poots challenged claims by officials in his former department that the cost of the stadium and associated centre for conflict resolution could reach £719m over 30 years.

Mr McGuinness said: "If there are allegations to be made then that's essentially a matter for those people who want to make the allegations."

Mr Poots said: "The First Minister (Peter Robinson) has already indicated that given the value of the site that it would be wrong to allow it to grow weeds (and) I assume that Deputy First Minister would be in agreement."

Mr McGuinness said alternative proposals would only be examined if the stadium was not given the go-ahead. "It's a very valuable site and under no circumstances are we going to allow it to grow weeds but consideration for a Plan B will not arise unless and until the present proposals have been brought to a conclusion," he said.

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