Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Joe Kernan: Casement stadium plan a demonstration of great foresight

Big plans: Casement Park

We may still be in the fierce grip of an uncompromising recession but this is not preventing the GAA from taking what I believe is a bold stride into the future.

The decision to proceed forthwith with the ambitious refurbishment of Casement Park will reap benefits for decades and the Ulster Council, the Antrim County Board, Central Council and the Northern Ireland authorities are to be complimented on their vision and foresight.

All these bodies are prepared to put up the money necessary to finance this major undertaking in the knowledge that it will benefit the community. In the process, they are showing that where there is a will, there is a way despite the economic gloom that prevails.

The Olympics and Paralympics have given us all an insight as to just how great a feelgood factor that sport can create and how it can make an impact on all our lives.

Now it is hugely satisfying that the GAA is to press ahead with a stadium plan which I think will bring great credit to all the stakeholders involved.

Not only will the finished product prove a stadium which will be numbered among the best in Europe but it’s actual construction will provide much-needed jobs and benefit the economy of Belfast, particularly at a time when it requires a considerable boost.

There is the possibility too that should the Rugby World Cup be staged in Ireland at some point in the future, matches will be allocated to Casement Park.

It is most encouraging to note that the GAA is prepared to continue to work with the other leading sporting bodies in this country for the common good.

The Association has shown great vision in this respect and I know that when the new-look Casement Park is unveiled in 2015 this will mark a new and exciting chapter in Ulster sport.