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‘Casement Park will be a good news story for West Belfast,’ says Paul Maskey MP

Minister of Finance, Conor Murphy, with Tom Daly, Chairman Casement Project and Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, at Casement Park Minister of Finance, Conor Murphy, with Tom Daly, Chairman Casement Project and Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, at Casement Park
By Michael Jackson

WEST Belfast MP Paul Maskey has welcomed a government commitment to see the redevelopment of Casement Park.

The New Decade, New Approach deal, which saw the restoration of the Assembly last week, contains an Executive commitment “to complete both the Regional and Sub Regional Stadia Programmes, including Casement Park”.

The £110m redevelopment plans had previously faced setbacks due to safety concerns linked to the size of the stadium.

Planning permission was granted for a 38,000 capacity stadium in 2013, but in 2014 approval was quashed in a High Court legal challenge brought by Mooreland & Owenvarragh Residents’ Assocation (MORA).

New plans to build a 34,500 capacity Casement Park were submitted by Ulster GAA in February 2017. The application is still under consideration by planners at the Department for Communities.

Speaking following the latest powersharing deal, Sinn Féin’s Paul Maskey MP welcomed the stadium’s inclusion in the new government’s agenda.

“The vast majority of people want to see Casement Park delivered,” he said.

“It will help regenerate West Belfast – there is no doubt about it. With the new leisure centre opening, and with Casement Park opening up it will make West Belfast a must-visit area. It will bring extra footfall to the area and it will support a lot of the local businesses.

“There has been at least a generation who haven’t played in Casement Park, so we need to ensure that it is built and done right where it meets the needs of the local community and the GAA. I think the GAA has went some way to do that. I think that it will be nothing but a good news story for West Belfast.

“It’s a major investment, and I look forward to seeing the timescales. I will be requesting meetings with ministers in the very near future to find out exactly what the timescales are and what the actions are.
He added: “There seems to be a bit of information outstanding, which needs to be submitted. The planners are doing their due diligence on this, and they’ll be doing all the proper checks and procedures.”

Meanwhile, the new the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, and the Minister of Finance, Conor Murphy, visited Casement Park on Wednesday.

Commenting on the deal and the Ministers’ visit, Tom Daly, Chairman Casement Park Project Board, said: “Ulster GAA, the Casement Park Project Board and our members throughout Ulster warmly welcome the commitment provided within ‘New Decade New Approach’ to see the completion of the Regional Stadia Programme and the GAA’s new provincial stadium in West Belfast.

“It is a reflection of their commitment to the project and to the sporting and economic benefits that a new Casement Park will provide that the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey and the Minister of Finance Conor Murphy visited the site within their first few days in office.

“We will continue to work closely with the Department for Infrastructure to conclude the planning assessment, as we look forward to delivering an iconic stadium for Gaels throughout Ulster.”

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