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Stadium future in other hands: Daly

By John Campbell

Ulster Council chairman Tom Daly has reaffirmed the governing body's commitment to the proposed new multi-sport stadium for the province.

But he has stressed that the future "is in the hands of others" as the process appears to have stalled following yesterday's impasse when unionist members of the Assembly's Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee refused to view a presentation by designers HOK Sports in Belfast.

Now Daly has made it clear that "the problems of politics" are outside the scope of the GAA although the Ulster Council is keen to see the project taken forward.

"The position of the GAA in relation to the multi-sport stadium has been that, for several years now, we have been prepared to work the concept," stated Daly, "This is a government-led initiative to which the GAA, like the other main sporting bodies, has responded. Where the process goes from now on is very much outside the hands of the GAA and indeed any of the other sports organisations. It is a matter for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Strategic Investment Board to bring the whole process forward. All we in the GAA can do is wait and see what happens."

While there is still a belief that the stadium may be sited at the Maze, there would appear to be a strong body of opinion that would prefer a Belfast location.

It is envisaged that the stadium will be completed by 2011 with construction work taking some eighteen months.

The Ulster Council, IFA and Ulster Branch IRFU are seen as the prime users of the stadium but there is uncertainty about just how many matches in each code might be played at the stadium - wherever it is located.

It is now some years since Ulster Council secretary Danny Murphy initially outlined the Council's desire to be involved in the stadium process yet progress has been painfully slow in the interim.

And all the time speculation continues to surround Windsor Park as the home of Northern Ireland football while the Ulster Branch IRFU have ambitious plans to redevelop its Ravenhill headquarters where the 13,000 capacity will once again be taxed for tonight's visit of the Ospreys in the Heineken Cup.

Belfast Telegraph


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