TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has recommitted the Irish government to financially contributing to the redevelopment of Casement Park in time for Euro 2028.
Mr Varadkar was speaking at the Shared Ireland Forum in Dublin Castle where he outlined the projects and the initiatives that the Irish government had invested in the North of Ireland since 2020 when the Shared Ireland Forum was first set up.
Looking ahead to 2024 he said the Shared Island mission "is to build bridges visible and invisible".
"In this shared future, our commitment to an all-island economy becomes not just a choice, but a necessity. So this year, we will commit unprecedented resourcing to enable major cross-border investments, to create a more connected, sustainable, and prosperous island for all.
"Today I want today to highlight four opportunities:
"First, the A5 upgrade will provide long-awaited, vital and safer connectivity for the North-West. We also want an hourly rail connection between Dublin and Belfast, an agreed objective for both Administrations, to better link our cities and communities. This will bring significant opportunities for education, for tourism and for business.
New DUP minister facing questions over Casement Parkhttps://t.co/zI0EPP9536— Andersonstown News (@ATownNews) February 9, 2024
"We will contribute to the redevelopment of Casement Park in Belfast, that will be part of the Euro 2028 tournament. This enduring major sports infrastructure can be achieved with funding from both the Irish and British Governments, as well as the Executive and the GAA.
"We will also invest in the Narrow Water Bridge to link the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down with the Cooley Peninsula in Co. Louth. This will be good for tourism and bring significant economic benefits, but it will also create new opportunities and deepen connections between communities on both sides of the border. It will be a powerful symbol of what can be achieved."
The Taoiseach has previously committed to help pay for the new Casement Park. Speaking in the Dáil in October, Mr Varadkar, said: “We’re in discussions with the Ulster GAA Council and also the British government as to how we can make a contribution to the cost of building that new stadium, and I believe we should.”
And only days into the new power sharing executive at Stormont, new Communities Minister Gordon Lyons of the DUP – whose department will oversee the proposed redevelopment of the Andersonstown venue – was already coming under intense pressure to make a statement on Casement Park after having received several written questions from MLAs looking answers on the matter.