Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 16:36 UK

Maze prison 'indecision bill' costs 12.5m

Maze prison
The future of the former Maze prison site remains unclear

Almost £12.5m has been spent on the potential redevelopment of the former Maze prison site.

The figure was released by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in reply to a question from Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn.

The prison, where 10 men died in the 1981 republican hunger strikes, closed in 2000.

Mr Lunn said it was "staggering" that so much had been spent with "next to nothing" of substance to show for it.

Plans to build a multi-sports stadium on the site were rejected in 2009.

The proposed stadium had divided political and sporting opinion. The sports minister at the time said it did not enjoy sufficient political consensus.

But Mr Lunn said every day that the prison site remained unused, money was being lost to the Northern Ireland economy.

"When the site was gifted to the Northern Ireland Executive there were such high hopes, including the possibility that a multi-sports stadium could be completed in time for the 2012 Olympics.

"Political wrangling has left us in the position of having an empty site. The potential remains but where is the political will?"


The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS), which runs the Balmoral show at the King's Hall in Belfast has consistently said it would like to move the event to the Maze.

On Wednesday, a statement from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minster said that "the expenditure outlined was incurred over a seven year period since the gifting of the site in 2003".

"This site is vast - twice the size of Titanic Quarter; as large as the city centre of Belfast, and the largest development site in the region, and that decontamination of such a large area is a mammoth undertaking, hence the cost of over £5m."

The statement said that "this site preparation work is absolutely essential to any development".

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