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Redevelopment of Casement Park "a priority" for new Northern Ireland Executive

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

04:27 15 Jan 2020

New Northern Ireland Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey insists that the redevelopment of Casement Park is a key priority.

The Minister met with Ulster GAA officials today for the first time since the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

Casement Park has been in limbo with no Stormont Government in place until last week, and has sat idle since 2013.

As Declan Bogue told Off The Ball in 2018, plans had been turned away before government ground to a halt in the North.

The original cost of the redevelopment came in just under €90million, with Stormont having pledged €72.5million of that with the GAA making up the balance, but that cost has risen beyond €120million.

Initial plans for the stadium were submitted in February 2017 for a 34,000-capacity (down from an initial 38,000)

Speaking following today's meeting, Minister Hargey said, "The completion of Casement Park is a key priority under the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement.

"I am determined to do all I can to see the project started at the earliest opportunity.

"As we can see from the redevelopment of the Windsor Park Stadium and the Kingspan Stadium, these projects have a positive impact for the whole community, which goes far beyond the benefits for sport.

"I have spoken to my Executive colleagues about the need for the complex approval processes to be concluded with pace, and I was pleased to meet with Ulster GAA officials to reaffirm my commitment to get Casement built."

Antrim GAA chairperson Tom Daly welcomed the meeting, adding, "It is a reflection of their commitment to the project and to the sporting and economic benefits that a new Casement Park will provide that the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey and the Minister of Finance Conor Murphy visited the site within their first few days in office.

"We will continue to work closely with the Department for Infrastructure to conclude the planning assessment, as we look forward to delivering an iconic stadium for Gaels throughout Ulster."

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Antrim Belfast Casement Park Deirdre Hargey GAA MLA Northern Ireland Executive Ulster Gaa

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