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Casement Park GAA stadium gets final planning approval from Nichola Mallon


Casement Park in Belfast

Casement Park in Belfast

Casement Park in Belfast

Final planning approval for a 34,500 capacity GAA stadium at Casement Park in west Belfast has been granted by the Infrastructure Minister, in a major boost to the much-delayed project.

Nichola Mallon announced the approval for the long-awaited stadium on a social media post and described it as an “historic day”.

“I am really delighted to announce today I have granted final planning approval for Casement,” she said.

"This is an historic day for Gaelic Games in Ulster but it is also a really important day for Gaels right across our island because this has been such a long time in coming.

"All efforts now must be focused on getting this project funded and getting this stadium built.

“Here’s to an amazing Ulster final this weekend and here’s to many memorable and fantastic games now that Ulster GAA will have the home it deserves.”

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Chairperson of the Casement Park Stadium Development Project Board, Tom Daly, said that the announcement is a “momentous” milestone for the Gaels of Antrim, Ulster and Ireland.

The GAA has said that the project will undergo a two-year build with major construction set to commence in the first half of 2022.

The redevelopment has encountered several obstacles over the years, with initial planning approval for a 38,000-capacity stadium quashed by the High Court in 2014 following a challenge by local residents. The revised redevelopment envisages a 34,000-plus venue.

Almost £11m has already been spent on the redevelopment of Casement Park despite ground not yet being broken on the project.

Stormont is funding most of the new stadium. The GAA originally committed to contributing £15m. However, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has previously said it will have to increase that contribution to reflect the higher construction costs.

Ulster GAA has previously said it has no plans to increase its funding for the redevelopment.

Ms Hargey said her department will be “working at pace” to deliver the stadium following the approval.

"When I first came into office last January, the first visit I made was to Casement Park and I said then that delivering the project was one of my key priorities,” she said.

“We’ve been waiting on planning to move this project on, I’m glad to say we have now got that decision and I am even more determined to deliver this stadium.

“A modern, fit-for-purpose Casement Park stadium will support the development of Gaelic games from the grassroots up. The Ulster Council of the GAA, Antrim GAA and the community of west Belfast will not be the only beneficiaries of this significant project; it will have far reaching economic, social and health impact for Belfast and beyond.

“Over the coming weeks I will be working closely with our stadia programme board, the UCGAA, the Department of Finance and the Executive to ensure that the Full Business Case for the redevelopment of Casement Park progresses at pace.

“This investment will be a major boost for Belfast and the wider economy. It will also provide a safe place for children, young people and Gaels to exercise, train and play Gaelic games – which will be crucial for mental health and general physical wellbeing as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic."

Mr Daly said the project will create employment opportunities, increase footfall and support local businesses.

"The combined impact of the construction phase of the project and its operations when complete, will leave a lasting sporting, economic, health and cultural legacy for many generations to come,” he stated.

Chief Executive of Ulster GAA Brian McEvoy, added: “With planning permission granted we are now looking forward confidently to the construction phase with a clear pathway for the project’s delivery.

"The project team is working with the Department for Communities to finalise all remaining aspects of the business case and we will be launching an extensive, far-reaching, and inclusive community engagement programme in the coming weeks to help realise the significant opportunities that the stadium will deliver for the whole community.

"Ulster GAA is committed to working very hard to be a good neighbour to everyone.”

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