DUP Minister claims Casement Park "is critical" to Ireland's Rugby World Cup bid

The Belfast stadium is currently in the early stages of redevelopment

BY Daniel Kelly 11:15 Thursday 22 December 2016, 11:15 22 Dec 2016

A computer generated image of the new Casement Park project. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Kelvin Boyes

Belfast's Casement Park could be one of the crucial parts of the IRFU's bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The GAA ground is currently in the early stages of redevelopment. It is hoped the stadium will be opened in 2019, after closing its doors in 2013.

Along with Ulster's Kingspan Stadium and Celtic Park in Derry, the stadium is one of only three in Northern Ireland that have been slated to host games should Ireland's bid be successful.

The 34,500 capacity stadium is the only one of the three that could potentially host any knockout games in the tournament. Dublin's Croke Park looks set to host the semi-finals and final.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, DUP MLA and current Minister of Communities Paul Givan said the GAA ground was "critical" to the bid.

"In terms of capacity we need to have a stadium size that will allow us to attract the bigger games and so the bid has been put forward by the IRFU, who are the lead applicant on that with the Executive giving our support to it."

"We need Casement to get the matches that we would want as you go through the competition. Casement is very much part of the bid. The indications I'm getting is that we should be confident we are well placed to secure this bid."

"That would then move into a more detailed business case for the Executive to establish what type of support needs to be provided by way of Kingspan. The bid is based on the current capacity at Kingspan. I know Ulster Rugby would like to see if that could be increased for some of the bigger games as well."

The results of Ireland's bid to host the event will be know next November. South Africa and France are also in contention to host the event.

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