Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Casement Park social club launches legal action against stadium redevelopment shutdown

Club wants an injunction to keep bar trading during GAA stadium refurb

An artist's impression of how the new Casement Park will look by night for Antrim fans
An artist's impression of how the new Casement Park will look by night for Antrim fans
Big plans: Casement Park
Big plans: Casement Park

High Court action has been launched in a bid to halt the shutdown of a social club at Casement Park GAA stadium.

With the west Belfast ground set to undergo a £76 million redevelopment, a legal attempt is being made to continue trading on the site.
 

Casement Social Club's Committee want an injunction preventing Antrim County Board from taking any further steps to close their facilities.
 

Undertakings were given today that no further equipment would be dismantled or memorabilia removed until a judge rules on the dispute.
 

Although the case was listed for hearing next week, both sides were urged to try to resolve their differences away from the courtroom.
 

A new stadium is due to be built on the existing site as part of a government investment plan which also includes upgrades to the Ulster rugby ground at Ravenhill and Windsor Park football stadium.
 

The court heard how a letter from the County Board's solicitors stated, as owner of Casement Park, it had no option but to close down the social club.
 

According to papers in the case the premises were to be shut by August 4 at the latest.
 

It was also set out that the club has not traded since running out of drink at the weekend.
 

Counsel for the board questioned whether the plaintiffs have legal authority to bring the proceedings.
 

David Dunlop said there were complex legal issues involving the rules of both the County Board and the GAA overall.
 

Allegations contained in a sworn statement on behalf of the social club committee were also disputed, he added.
 

A barrister for the plaintiff rejected the claim about its legal standing.
 

She told the court: "Our main concern would be in relation to dismantling and closing the club, taking memorabilia off the walls and beginning to sell memorabilia."
 

After receiving undertaking on behalf of the County Board, Mr Justice McCloskey said the status quo would remain until the injunction application is determined on Monday.
 

The judge also called on the two sides to get round the table in a bid to reach a settlement between themselves.
 

He told them: "The parties must not lose sight of common sense, rationality and proportionality simply because both have been driven into the courtroom.
 

"It should not give rise to polarisation. It should rather act as an incentive to explore scrupulously, conscientiously and reasonably whether any sensible resolution of this overall dispute can be achieved by the parties. 
 

"Litigation is a last resort."

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