Belfast Telegraph

Airshow organisers Ulster Aviation Society hit by fresh headache

By Rebecca Black

A historical society banned from holding an airshow because of a DUP/Sinn Fein feud over the Maze site has been hit by a second blow.

The Ulster Aviation Society has now been informed that it may only borrow historical items from a Government nuclear bunker if it stumps up the cash to pay for insurance.

Society member Alistair McCann wanted items for a display from the bunker, officially known as the Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

It was designed to house VIPs in the event of a nuclear attack during the Cold War.

Mr McCann wanted a blanket and some maps for a UAS display about the Cold War. He has not been told how much the insurance would cost.

“After the ridiculous decision not to allow us to have our open day, which would have helped us raise funds for new projects, I have been informed by OFMDFM that I can only have the items if the UAS pay for an insurance policy to cover them while they are in our possession,” he revealed.

“How they expect us to pay for things like this when they won’t allow us to raise money is beyond belief.”

A spokeswoman for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister said the issue was down to a recent electrical fire in the bunker.

“The building has been shut down for health and safety purposes pending expert advice on making the building safe and effecting the necessary repairs.

“This may take a significant period of time during which non-essential access will not be possible.

“OFMDFM understand that this will be disappointing news for the Ulster Aviation Society, but given the circumstances there is a need for this precautionary approach.

“OFMDFM will advise UAS when it is possible to access the building.

“In relation to insurance arrangements, it is standard practice for an appropriate all risks insurance policy to be in place to protect these publicly-owned assets.”

Yesterday UAS chairman Ray Burrows hit out after OFMDFM did not give permission for the society to hold a two-day show at the Maze site. It was to be the first showcase of the Spitfire replica that Belfast Telegraph readers help raise funds to buy.

Further reading

Shot down... Charity forced to cancel airshow event after being caught up in ongoing political dogfight between Sinn Fein and DUP

The Spitfire replica you won't see, thanks to Stormont

Stormont turbulence hits plane enthusiasts 

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