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Sports Minister: we'll start building Casement by 2022


Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

Freddie Parkinson

Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

It has been a long time coming but the new Casement Park will finally be built, according to Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey, who wants construction on the state-of-the-art stadium in west Belfast well underway by 2022.

The process has been going on for a decade, and while football's Windsor Park and rugby's Kingspan Stadium have been redeveloped and modernised with the help of government money in that time, the GAA's Casement Park has been beset by problems and delays, including concerns from residents, planning approval being quashed and safety issues.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the cost of a new Casement Park had increased from the original £77m to £110m, sparking fears that the project would never be completed.

Sinn Fein's Hargey insists, however, that the stadium will be constructed and has also revealed that football in Northern Ireland will receive £36.2m for new facilities as agreed by the NI Executive five years ago.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, speaking about Casement Park, the Minister for Communities, with sport as part of her remit, said: "There is a duty on us as an Executive, myself as the Minister, and also the GAA that we deliver the vision that they had and the vision we had for the Stadium programme.

"We have seen the impact the programme has had on Windsor Park and Kingspan and we now need to complete that in terms of Gaelic games.

"There is a big hope for this to be done and for people in a couple of years to see Casement up and running again."

The planning process for a new Casement has to be successful, and Hargey insists that lessons have been learned from the past when planning permission was quashed in 2014 after a legal challenge from local residents.

Asked if the ideal scenario was that Casement would be open for business in 2022, Hargey stated: "Well, it would be that we are well underway in terms of construction, that we are starting by that stage and we are moving to the next phase of construction."

Belfast Telegraph