THE new Stormont Minister who will oversee the proposed redevelopment of Casement Park in West Belfast is already facing questions from MLAs on its progress.
Following the restoration of the power-sharing Executive last weekend, DUP MLA Gordon Lyons was appointed Communities Minister – the Department responsible for advancing the project.
The Casement Park upgrade has been plagued by funding wrangles and delays since the project was announced in 2011. The redeveloped 34,500 capacity stadium in Andersonstown will be one of the host venues for Euro 2028 but is facing estimated costs of up to £110m.
With the DUP now in control of the Department for Communities, there are concerns over the project's future.
Last year, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said there would be a “lot of questions” if money was found for the West Belfast stadium while the North faces a budget crisis. He said he did not know if the GAA stadium would be built in time for the tournament, insisting that he would not support extra funding for the project from Stormont.
Minister Gordon Lyons has already received written questions from parties on the progress of Casement Park.
SDLP MLA Justin McNulty has asked for an update on the progress of the Casement Park project and whether it will be ready in time to facilitate the Ulster GAA Senior Football Final being played there in 2027.
DUP MLA Michelle McIlveen has asked the Minister for Communities whether there has been an updated business case developed for the Casement Park project and how much has been spent to date by the Department and the GAA.
TUV MLA Jim Allister has also asked for the Minister's assessment of the Casement Park project and what steps he intends to take as a result of that assessment and what departmental funding is anticipated as being required for the project.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News, West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said it is now time to "move forward" and build Casement Park.
“Casement Park will be built," he said. "It is a flagship Executive and New Decade New Approach commitment. Both the Irish and British governments and the GAA have committed to the funding and it is now part of the joint Euro 2028 bid between Ireland and Britain.
“It is now time to move forward to build Casement Park to ensure we will have a first-class, state-of-the-art sporting facility for Ulster Gaels, and to host major games in the Euros and big events and a major economic driver for West Belfast.”
The Department for Communities has not yet respond to our requests for it to outline what the newly-appointed minister’s intentions are regarding the redevelopment of Casement Park.