Former Stormont Sports minister Edwin Poots has launched a stinging attack on government officials who worked on plans for a multi sports stadium and has said the civil service should now be stripped of responsibility.
The Democratic Unionist Assembly member accused senior officials of inflating the estimated cost of an arena at the former Maze prison, just to undermine it.
He described a claim from the chief accounting officer in his ex-department that the development and conflict resolution centre could cost £719 million over 30 years as "cloud cuckoo talk".
Now a backbencher, Mr Poots will today table two questions on the Maze to DUP colleagues First Minister Peter Robinson and Finance Minister Nigel Dodds, but has denied this is evidence of party rift. While still a minister, he told MLAs that some civil servants were opposed to the Maze from the outset.
Mr Poots, who lost his position to Gregory Campbell in the recent DUP reshuffle, expanded on those claims and said the civil service wields too much power in the Assembly. In a frank assessment of his year in office, Mr Poots said he spent much of his time battling over-cautious officials.
"I found the degree of risk aversion as being a problem in general," he said. "There are a range of civil servants who don't want it (the stadium) to happen, and who never did, and don't want to handle such a big commitment.
"Because of this risk aversion that's why we ended up with silly figures like £719 million which wouldn't be borne out in reality.
"In many respects I think the civil service lack the capacity to deal with a project of this scale."
The MLA said the Maze stadium could become a reality if responsibility was handed to the government-funded Strategic Investment Board or private sector.
The most senior civil servants in the Sports and Finance department have said the business case for the Maze doesn't stack up and Executive ministers, who are facing pressure for an alternative venue in Belfast, have yet to make a final decision on whether to pull the plug on the undertaking.
SDLP representative on the Sport Department's scrutiny committee Declan O'Loan said Mr Poots' decision to tackle his colleagues indicated there was real unrest within the DUP and claimed senior members wanted to see the project fail as there would be a conflict transformation centre in old prison buildings.
"It has now become an open secret that many senior figures at the heart of the Executive and within the DUP want to see the Maze development dropped. "