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Kelly – No stadium if not on Long Kesh site

14 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly, has said that the development of the Long Kesh masterplan should proceed forthwith. He said that if a stadium was not built on the site of the former prison then no stadium would be built at all.

Mr Kelly said:

"The Long Kesh masterplan proposal emerged from a lengthy and thorough consultative process. It received endorsement across the political spectrum.

"The Long Kesh masterplan is one package. With it, a major opportunity now exists to provide a world class facility for sport which would command the support and confidence of the GAA, the IRFU and the IFA and the wider sporting public. Sinn Fein will not accept a stadium being built on any other site.

"Another component of the package is the preservation of some of the former H-Block and prison buildings as an International Conflict Transformation Centre, which may help others to learn some of the lessons of our Peace Process.

"Regenerating this site has the potential to create up to 10,000 new jobs - many of which would be at the higher value end of the scale - and to lever up to £1 billion investment. The regeneration plan is for a mixed use site with economic, social, environmental, residential and leisure potential. Failure to progress this site will be a huge loss to the economy and to this area in particular.

"There is an obvious contradiction that at a time when the Executive is pressing the British government to release to us disused military sites to be used for regeneration purposes we are in possession of a 360 acre site and have failed to act.

"Discussions about the Long Kesh site have gone on for nearly ten years. This project has the potential to overcome barriers in our society and help develop sport in this part of Ireland. Peace building in Ireland still commands much interest abroad and sporting opportunities exist ahead of the 2012 Olympics. But to harness these opportunities to lever further investment and employment, the time to fully implement the Long Kesh masterplan is now." ENDS

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