Maze to host NI's Balmoral Show

Sat, Jan 5, 2013, 00:00

Planning permission has been granted to turn Northern Ireland’s most notorious prison into a venue for one of the region’s biggest crowd-pulling events.

The green light was yesterday given to the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society to host its annual Balmoral Show on a section of the former Maze prison site, near Lisburn, Co Antrim.

State-of-the-art showgrounds, livestock rings and parking for 10,000 cars will be accommodated on a 65-acre site, which was bought by the society last March.

The Balmoral Show is a popular fixture in the North and has been running at the King’s Hall, in Belfast, since 1896.

Making the announcement yesterday, Minister for the Environment Alex Attwood said he had given “careful consideration” to the application.

Also known as Long Kesh and the “H Blocks” – because of the shape of the buildings – the Maze prison played a central part in the Troubles.

It was the site of the 1981 IRA hunger strikes and was home to many well-known figures including Gerry Adams and Billy Wright.