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Club Aontroma’s Murphy insists Casement an “equality issue”

How the redeveloped Casement Park should look How the redeveloped Casement Park should look
By Staff Reporter

CLUB Aontroma chairman, Niall Murphy has said the proposed redevelopment of Casement Park is an “equality issue” that must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The Naomh Éanna clubman has won his personal battle with Covid-19 but is now returning to full health and turning his attention to the ongoing saga with Antrim’s county ground that has been closed since 2013.

Planning permission was initially granted, but after a successful High Court appeal in 2014, changes were made to the plans to reduce the structure in height and capacity down to 34,500 that were submitted for planning permission in 2017. However, the project appeared to have stalled with the lack of a Stormont Assembly for a prolonged period adding to the delay, but with the Assembly back up and running, there is renewed hope the project can finally get off the ground.

Speaking to RTE, Murphy insists that in light of completed upgrades to the Kingspan Stadium, home of Ulster Rugby, and Windsor Park, the redevelopment of Casement Park must now proceed.

“They have to, that’s the bottom line,” he said of the plans.

“It’s beyond a sporting issue, it’s an equality issue now and that’s how many Gaels in the North look at it.

“Windsor Park was wholly redeveloped and rightly so, Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby was wholly redeveloped and is an exceptional facility and we’ve been let adrift. That’s just not going to be tolerated.

“A quality stadium met with appropriate government funding and commensurate government resources is now something that should be considered an equality issue.”

The Belfast solicitor is still recovering from his fight against Covid-19 that saw him spend 16 days in a coma having contracted the virus in March, but he reports he is making progress and can’t thank the medical staff who cared for him whilst he was in hospital.

“I have to say I was in the safest of hands,” he said of his ordeal that could have cost him his life.

“All of the medical attention, which was intense, work and I just can’t thank all of the staff who looked after me enough.

“It was a harder time at home. My wife got a call one night to say it was 50-50 if I would make it through, that would have been a hard phone-call to take.

“It really is like a field hospital in a war film. When I came around, I just couldn’t fathom the working conditions that these people are working in.

“I’ve described them the equivalent of fire-fighters who ran into the Twin Towers on 9-11, except we’re not providing these people with sufficient protective gear.

“The nurses and doctors are working and physios are basically working in the bin-bag, certainly in the North. I’m led to believe that circumstances are better in the South.

“With all that said, every person that cared for me couldn’t have been more attentive, caring, professional and genuine.”

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