Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Lost in the moral Maze on new stadium

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In taking issue with Fair Play (Write Back, July 24) I want to say well done to those who have brought some realism and rigour to the new stadium debate.

Direct Rule ministers were completely sold on the Maze project and for a while it appeared the new Executive was being steamrollered into following suit by the likes of Edwin Poots and Barry McElduff.

The courageous intervention of Nigel Dodds in particular was critical in forcing a thorough review of the policy on the stadium by highlighting both the costs issue and the inextricably linked project of the so-called conflict centre, which many people fear will be nothing more than a permanent apologia for terrorism.

Fair Play stated the conflict centre would proceed come what may. Why should it?

Who decides? Surely in the new developed set-up it is up for grabs just as the stadium is.

Defeatists who fool themselves into thinking such a centre would be a big tourist draw are clearly not aware of the massive downside of pouring public money into something that will involve telling the terrorists' story. As for the possibility of developing Windsor Park, it surely makes sense to seriously consider what must be the cheapest option, allowing other sports at all levels to benefit as well.

Those like Fair Play with their clearly anti-Linfield bias must not be allowed to pervert logic to advance their pro-Maze argument. Other countries also have their national stadium at the home of a local club. Windsor has been the home of Northern Ireland football for decades. No one is suggesting that it become the one single stadium for all three sports - that would be unsuitable. But it is the national stadium for football just as Ravenhill is the home of rugby, while the GAA has Casement Park and, in any case, prefers to stage many of its games at Clones or Croke Park. Thankfully, Mr Poots does not have the power to give the Maze the go-ahead.

Let's hope his more far-sighted colleagues win out for all our sakes - for sporting and political reasons.

Sport For All, Loughbrickland

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