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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 14:05 GMT
Committee delays stadium meeting

A meeting where plans for a sports stadium at the former Maze prison site were to be unveiled has been adjourned for the day.

UUP and DUP assembly members were not prepared to see designers because they had not been shown feasibility studies and business cases for the development.

The proposed stadium was drawn up by HOK Sport, which also designed Wembley.

The designers had travelled from England for the presentation but were left outside while politicians argued.

BBC political correspondent Gareth Gordon said it "may be viewed as the day when the confusion around the Maze descended into farce".

We as a committee need to know how much this lovely drawing is going to cost
David McNarry
Ulster Unionist MLA
There has been much controversy over where the stadium should be located, given the history of the Maze prison.

Plans to retain an H-Block and the prison hospital as a Conflict Transformation Centre have led to a lack of DUP support for the project.

Ulster Unionist Culture Arts and Leisure committee member David McNarry said: "We as a committee need to know how much this lovely drawing is going to cost - we can't get this information from them.

In my opinion it's an own-goal by our committee
Kieran McCarthy
Alliance Party MLA
"Our job is to scrutinise, to ask the minister to bring forward the details, and we are very unhappy with today's developments."

However, his colleague on the committee, Kieran McCarthy of the Alliance Party, said the situation was "a complete fiasco".

"In my opinion it's an own-goal by our committee. They had the opportunity not only to see what's being proposed, but to ask questions and they threw it out," he said.

The plans were eventually released to the media, but designer Janine Graham said she was disappointed they did not get the chance to present them to the committee.

"I don't know if we'll still have an opportunity to do that, but it's good to get the images out there and show what we're doing. Hopefully people will be excited," she said.

The GAA, IFA and Ulster Rugby have all confirmed they would play at the stadium and have all signed a document estimating the minimum number of supporters they would hope to attract there annually.

The plan is for a 35,000-seater stadium for soccer and rugby, and the provision of more seats for GAA fans.

Gareth Gordon reports on the meeting

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