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Newry construction company O'Hare and McGovern hits the back of the net with £35m Windsor contract

Sports Minister confirms multi-million redevelopment deal

By Margaret Canning

Newry construction company O'Hare and McGovern has won the £35m contract to redevelop Belfast's Windsor Park football stadium, the Sports Minister has said.

Caral Ni Chuilin told the Assembly yesterday that the "most economically advantageous tender" had been identified, after her department confirmed £31m in funding from its coffers last month.

"As no challenges were received...the funding agreement was issued to the Irish Football Association (IFA), and the successful contractor, O'Hare and McGovern, was appointed in December 2013," the Minister said.

O'Hare and McGovern yesterday confirmed it is working on the design development of the stadium, the first stage in its overhaul.

The IFA will put up the remaining £4m of costs.

A spokeswoman for the IFA said: "The Irish FA has issued a letter to O'Hare and McGovern to undertake the pre-construction design works for the stadium development.

"The pre-construction design phase is anticipated to be completed in March with works commencing thereafter."

The win is a feather in the cap for O'Hare and McGovern, headed up by Eamon O'Hare, which is understood to have also bid for the £77m project to redevelop the GAA stadium Casement Park, eventually won by a consortium of Heron Bros in Co Londonderry and UK stadium specialist the Buckingham Group. The Windsor Park contract, which is expected to take 19 months, will include the completion of the East Stand, demolition of the existing South Stand and the building of a new one, and renovation to the North and West Stands.

Newry and Mourne SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley welcomed O'Hare and McGovern's continued success.

"They're a company at the top of their game, no pun intended. No doubt this contract will secure the future of the firm, and employment in Newry and further afield," he said.

In December, the Minister announced that her department would fund both Windsor Park and Casement Park to the tune of £31m and £62m respectively. While it has already fully funded the £14.7m redevelopment of Ravenhill, which is being carried out by Gilbert-Ash.

She described her department's £31m in funding as "a new chapter" for the historic south Belfast pitch.

Economist John Simpson said O'Hare and McGovern had withstood the pressures of the downturn well.

"Winning this contract is definitely to their credit. They have stayed in the black all the way through the recent period," he said.

"Turnover had fallen from around £67m in the year to December 2010 to £36m two years later, with pre-tax profits down from £6.4m to £3.3m in the same period. They have kept themselves well afloat and adjusted well."

In February 2013 O'Hare McGovern won a £32m contract to build a centre for experimental medicine at Queen's, on the university's health sciences campus.

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