Friday, 22 June 2007

El Presidenté rules out the Ormeau Park

The Little Father of Northern Ireland has ruled out plans for a Belfast based sports stadium according to the BBC.

I must have missed the meeting when it was decided we should be ruled by an elderly cleric’s theocratic decree.

“First Minister Ian Paisley has ruled out plans for a stadium at Belfast's Ormeau Park, saying it would affect five churches, including his own.
Mr Paisley said it would not be "convenient" to have Sunday School children arriving in buses with a greyhound track outside the door.
He added: "It will not be and I'm told it cannot be under the planning act."
Belfast City Council is considering a possible stadium, incorporating a greyhound park, at the park.
On Wednesday, research commissioned by the council suggested a new national sports stadium for Northern Ireland should have an urban setting.
"Seldom have we experienced such overwhelming evidence for the in-town location," the report stated.
The findings went against proposals for a 35,000-seater stadium for soccer, GAA and rugby at the Maze/Long Kesh site.
On Tuesday, the culture minister said he was not satisfied that plans for a Belfast site for the stadium were viable.
Edwin Poots added that the process could not go on indefinitely.
He said the Maze/Long Kesh Site was the only site able to accommodate "a potentially viable shared stadium for all the sports involved".”

So to surmise, Paisley has ruled out the Ormeau Park proposals, because the stadium would host greyhound racing and his church would be next to a den of gambling and iniquity. These “considerations” are paramount, despite the overwhelming evidence that a stadium in the city will benefit Belfast and the sports that are intended to use the venue. Not that the DUP would foist their widespread religious nutterdom on us once in government or anything!

Edwin Poots of course is the minister with responsibility for deciding on the site of any national stadium. He has given Belfast an extremely equitable 12 days to formulate a plan for a new stadium, which he has made perfectly clear he will ignore in any case. The Maze site is of course in Mr Poots own constituency. No conflict of interest their then!

In supporting the Maze proposals, the DUP has also given tacit consent to turning the site into a shrine to republican terror. A number of months ago I had some correspondence with the Deputy Leader of the UUP, Danny Kennedy, and it is worth reproducing his arguments against the Maze site here.

“As you probably know, I am a very keen NI fan and have a block booking atWindsor for all home games. I'm against the Maze proposal for a number ofreasons:-
1. The location so close to the hospital where the hunger strikers committedsuicide means it will be part of a political shrine
2. I seriously doubt if NI could fill a 30,000 seater stadium, and probably the only sport who could would be the GAA. The big plus with Windsor is that with a full house of 14,000 we get a great atmosphere which helps the team achieve more. Playing to a half empty stadium would take away that atmosphere.
3 I can't see the Maze site being economically viable. Even with the involvement of the other two sporting codes and pop concerts, it is hard tosee how it can be made to pay its own way.The problem is the Govt appear to have made up their mind on the issue,largely for political reasons and the Belfast options are limited too. As a Linfield fan I obviously favour Windsor but the Govt, for political reasons,are clearly against it. Also, Windsor would need a huge overhaul to put it inproper shape.I don't know enough about the Ormeau Park site, but I think a site close to the Odyssey or the Titanic quarter could be developed. The UUP have noformal policy on the issue, in spite of what Minister Hanson said recently and clearly the Belfast reps are at odds with the Lisburn Councillors on the issue. My sense is that the issue of the Maze hospital shrine makes most ofour reps nervous and opposed to that site.”

Of course Mr Kennedy has the distinction of being part of a proper unionist party.

1 comment:

toddrpr said...

The idea that the Maze remains the only viable site in Greater Belfast for a national stadium is clearly absurd. I'm still waiting on clarification from Mr Poots as to why he thinks the plans for a site in Belfast are not viable - he offers no explanation as far as I can see. Construction of a new stadium on the outskirts of Lisburn would be the equivalent of the English FA building Wembley Stadium on the outskirts of Luton. But what else have we come to expect from those in charge of Northern Ireland. Down the years we have become used to such idiosyncrasies but the bare faced cheek of consistently ignoring advice against the Maze site from everyone including Belfast CC, the overwhelming majority of the fans and town planners is a step too far. Only in Ulster could the fact that a few sunday school buses might be 'affected' (?) be considered a material planning consideration. It just proves that after a 35 year absence of 'normal' politics in NI, we have a lot of catching up to do.