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Embarrassing scenes as stadium meeting descends into utter farce

By Lesley-Anne Henry

A meeting about Northern Ireland's new multi-sports stadium descended into an embarrassing fiasco at Stormont yesterday.

Unionist members of a Department of Curture Arts and Leisure committee snubbed architects who had flown in specially to show them designs for a proposed 38,000-seater complex at the Maze.

The architects, from Wembley designers HOK Sport, were then left pacing the Stormont corridors as committee members argued the toss over whether or not the meeting was relevant.

Alliance party member Kieran McCarthy said he was "surprised and disgusted" by the outcome - an adjournment of the meeting and an impromptu showing of the plans by the bewildered architects to an equally bemused media.

The unionist delegation said they had walked out because they had not been shown feasibility studies for the proposed development.

UUP member David McNarry said: "We as a committee need to know how much this is going to cost, and we can't get this information."

And the DUP's Nelson McCausland added: "Until the (planning) process is complete, it's a waste of time having any sort of persentation."

But several members thought the architects, who said they were disappointed by what was going on around them, were treated with a complete lack of courtesy.

Paul Butler of Sinn Fein accused the unionist contingent of " grandstanding" over the issue but added that it wouldn't derail the plan for a stadium on the site of the former prison.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph