Stalled Maze Project Costs Over £12M

Close to £12.5m has been spent on redeveloping the site of the former Maze Prison, it has emerged.

Since its final closure, a planned development corporation was supposed to consider options regarding the future of the site, but that hasn't happened, even though, last year, the then Sports Minister Gregory Campbell decided against building a multi-sports stadium there.

Even at that stage, more than £350,000 had already been spent simply maintaining the listed buildings on the site.

Now, with no final decision yet made on a future home for the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society's annual Balmoral Show - there is outrage this week over the cash already spent on the former Co Amtrim internment camp.

The figure was uncovered by Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn, on foot of a question to the First and Deputy First Ministers' office at Stormont.

The MLA was concerned that plans to turn the area into a new multi sports stadium were scrapped last year - and a scheme to move the Balmoral Show to the site has also been stalled - with the show staying in south Belfast until at least 2012.

Over £3.5m was spent on consultancy fees alone for this project and are included in the total spend.

Mr Lunn said: "I think it's just an accumulation of different items over a period of years but my main concern is the lack of product.

"In April last year we were told a new body - the Maze Development Corporation - was being set up by the First and Deputy First Ministers' Office," Mr Lunn indicated, "but has not yet been formed - 13 months on. I want them to get on with it," he said.

The original Maze Prison buildings are already enjoying 'listed status', as announced by the NI Environment Minister, Edwin Poots in February.

Mr Poots said that an Environment Agency review concluded that the buildings on the site merit such protection.

That's even though many unionists are unhappy about the listing of the Maze structures, suggesting that the site may become a shrine to the republican hunger strikers that died in the jail in 1981.

Republicans, however, have argued that the jail represents an important part of Irish history and suggested that the site become a conflict transformation centre.

See: Maze Prison Retains Listed Status


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