Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 18:23 UK

Maze information 'not available'

Plans to build the stadium at the Maze have proved controversial
Plans to build the stadium at the Maze have proved controversial

A top official in the Department of Finance has admitted it is unsatisfactory that some information his officials require to make a decision over the Maze development has not been made available.

Leo O'Reilly, the permanent secretary, was appearing before the assembly's finance committee who were analysing the assessment that an economic case for proceeding with the Maze development had not been demonstrated.

The outline business case for the Maze said it is likely to lead to 4,121 jobs, but Jack Layberry, the DFP's head of supply, said they had queried the fact that neither the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment nor Invest Northern Ireland had been asked to evaluate what kind of jobs they would be.

Committee members were also told that because of planning restrictions the site was only worth a fraction of what it could be.

Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs Jnr expressed disbelief when told the apparent cost of developing the Maze site had risen from 193m last December to 254m because of an error in a consultant's spread sheet.

The committee chairman Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin said the social benefits of GAA, rugby and soccer sharing one stadium had not been taken into account.

He asked officials: "Is this really a sloppy exercise, because we're in the middle of a political maelstrom and the departments are bouncing about like corks in the water?"

Mr O'Reilly told assembly members "We can say to departments, as we have said, the information and the way it's been presented looks unsatisfactory, there's gaps, there's inconsistencies, there seems to be lots of information which could be presented in a better way, its not available on jobs... I mean completely unsatisfactory."

He added: "It's totally irritating and unsatisfactory that we've been given a set of figures on jobs to analyse.

"We have raised concerns because of the apparent lack of involvement of Invest (Northern Ireland) or DETI in analysing those jobs and yet you hear the media talking about 10,000 jobs that we have not seen.

"No-one's given us the information and yet understandably, because it's in the media, people will want to question us about them."

Sinn Fein assembly member Jennifer McCann said she did not believe enough information had been collated to allow officials to reach the decision that the Maze did not offer value for money.

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