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Parliament refurbishment: Plan to house MPs in underground car park described as 'bonkers' due to 1979 INLA car bomb

Published 28/12/2015

Repairing the Palace of Westminster could cost up to £7bn, a report earlier this year found
Repairing the Palace of Westminster could cost up to £7bn, a report earlier this year found

A proposal to house MPs in an underground car park while the Palace of Westminster undergoes crucial repairs has caused outrage among MPs because it was the spot where Conservative MP Airey Neave was killed by a car bomb.

The Palace - riddled with asbestos, rodents and moths - is in desperate need of a refurbishment and earlier this year a Government-led report found it would cost more than £7bn and take 32 years to complete if politicians did not move out of the building temporarily, compared to £3.5bn and six years if they did.

The most likely outcome is for MPs and peers to take turns to relocate for at least five years each, but a source close to Westminster’s Restoration and Renewal team told the Mail on Sunday that the safest place to temporarily house MPs would be underground and “well away” from the street.

The source said: “They said the safest place would be underground, so they suggested the Commons car park under New Palace Yard for [MPs] and that car park under College Green just across from the Palace for the Lords.”

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This suggestion caused uproar with some MPs because it would mean MPs meeting at the spot where Mr Neave was killed by a car bomb planted by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1979. The INLA claimed they carried out the killing because Mr Neave was engaged in "rabid militarist calls for more repression against the Irish people".

Tory MP Stuart Andrew said the plan was “bonkers”.

“The very idea of us holding debates in an underground car park – especially that location – will be anathema to most of us,” he said.

“I know Churchill’s War Rooms were underground, but let’s face it, the precedent of certain other national leaders meeting in a bunker is, to say the least, a most unfortunate one.”


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