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Ulster GAA has today welcomed the ‘landmark and historic decision’ from Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to recommend planning approval for the redevelopment of Casement Park stadium in Belfast.

Tom Daly, Chairperson of the Casement Park Stadium Development Project Board, said:

“Today’s announcement represents a very significant milestone for Gaels across Ireland, Ulster and Antrim who have remained fully committed to the delivery of their provincial stadium at Casement Park. We want to recognise and thank them for their unstinting support throughout the application process.

“We firmly welcome the Minister’s support and recognition of this decision as a significant step and one which will provide a major economic boost to Belfast. The Casement Park project will support the economic recovery, representing a long-term investment in the future of west Belfast, bringing with it many direct and indirect jobs along with increased revenues for local businesses and the regeneration of the area.”

Following the submission of a planning application in February 2017, today’s decision will act as a major catalyst for the GAA and wider community and will see the completion of the last remaining project within the NI Executive’s Regional Sports Stadia Programme.

More than 5,000 people engaged in the project’s unprecedented 32 week community consultation with 95% stating that they were in favour of the new design.

The community consultation informed the design process which was led by global award-winning architects Populous, designers of Tottenham Hotspur, Emirates and Aviva stadiums. The new Casement Park will deliver a state-of-the-art design and include an iconic bowl structure with a 34,578 capacity and a range of mixed-use facilities that will bring cultural, health, civic and economic opportunities to Belfast and beyond.

Commenting on the announcement, Brian McAvoy, Chief Executive of Ulster GAA said:

“Today’s decision provides a clear pathway for the redevelopment of Casement Park and will be a major boost to the GAA and wider society.

“More than a decade ago, the GAA made a commitment to the Gaels in Antrim, Ulster and throughout Ireland to ensure that Belfast would have a world class stadium to serve their needs. The recommendation of planning approval is a momentous step in this process, and we would like to thank our members and the wider GAA community for their patience and continued support throughout this journey.

“We would also like to thank the Casement Park Project Board and Design Team as we would not be here today without their tireless work and commitment to the process.

“Throughout the pandemic the GAA as a proud community organisation with more than 250,000 members in Ulster has led from the front in the fight against Coronavirus and this spirit matches the ambitions of the new provincial stadium.

“The re-developed Casement Park will bring positive local community benefits and we will work hard to be a good neighbour for all those who live in the locality.”

Ciaran McCavana, Antrim GAA Chairperson, added;

 “The Gaels of Antrim can now look forward to having a world-class facility that they can call home, which will also inspire future generations to grow and develop our games. It will not only serve the GAA members, but it will act as hub for community and cultural activities that will serve the wider community, creating a transformational social and cultural focal point in Belfast.  We also look forward to the long-term contribution that Casement Park will make to the regional sporting infrastructure of Belfast and Ulster over the coming decades.” 

Pictured are Oliver Galligan, President Ulster GAA, Finance Minister Conor Murphy MLA, Ciaran McCavana. Chairperson, Antrim GAA, Tom Daly, Chairperson, Casement Park Project Board, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA and Brian McAvoy, Provincial Secretary, Ulster GAA.

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA and Finance Minister, Conor Murphy MLA met with GAA officials at Casement Park to discuss future plans for the project.

Commenting on ‘New Decade New Approach’ and the attendance of the Ministers at Casement Park, Tom Daly, 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.”

Following the passing of more than 1,000 days since Ulster GAA submitted its planning application for an iconic new Provincial Stadium in Belfast, Tom Daly, Chairman of the Casement Park Project Board, and Antrim County Chairman Ciarán McCavana outline their frustrations, passion and steadfast commitment to the Casement Park project, and the transformative impact it will have for Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and handball.

The message from Ulster GAA and from Gaels across the province is clear, let’s build Casement!

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As we approach that time of year when club and county committees throughout Ulster host conventions/AGM’s to review 2019 activities, I am writing to you to communicate our deep frustration that the plans for a new Provincial Stadium at Casement Park continue to be encumbered by a prolonged planning process.

Monday (25th November) marks 1,000 days since Ulster GAA submitted its planning application in February 2017 for an iconic new Provincial Stadium in Belfast which would deliver the last strand of the Regional Stadia Development Programme, a key commitment within the NI Executive’s Programme for Government.

The completion of Kingspan Ravenhill stadium for Ulster Rugby and the Irish Football Association’s Windsor Park Stadium is bringing significant benefits to their members and to wider society and it is obvious that the provision of modern infrastructure has helped develop the profile and standing of both sports. At Ulster GAA we are determined that 250,000 association members and new visitors to our games will enjoy similar benefits once the long-standing commitment made to us by Government are fulfilled, with the Casement Park project contributing significantly to sporting, cultural and economic prosperity.

Earlier this year we wrote to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to express our concerns about the planning process and the length of time it was taking some statutory bodies to respond to information requests. While we welcome the Department’s response which recognised our frustration and indicated that the process will soon be drawing to a close, we remain focused on ensuring our members are provided with absolute clarity on when, and by whom, a decision will be made.

We can also confirm that we have submitted our final draft version of the business case for the project to the Department for Communities (DfC) and look forward to its continued progression through inter-departmental processes to the Department of Finance (DoF). Thereafter, subject to planning approval and securing the additional investment required to deliver the project we remain hopeful that work could commence in 2020 at Casement Park.

Everyone at Ulster GAA is resolutely committed to the delivery of this project and to ensuring you, our members, benefit from the investment in major stadium infrastructure with a modern fit for purpose Provincial Stadium and a new home for Antrim gaelic games. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to satisfactorily conclude the planning assessment process and the commencement of the next phase of the project’s development.

In the meantime, on behalf of the Casement Park Project Board and Ulster GAA, I would like to sincerely thank you for your support and patience and I would ask that you continue to voice your support for the project as we seek to deliver a provincial home we can all be proud of.

The key features of the new stadium are included below:
• Developed by global Award-winning architect Populous, designers of Tottenham Hotspur, Emirates and Aviva stadiums
• Proposed capacity of 34,500 inclusive of 8,500 standing with roof capacity for all spectators
• Iconic bowl design
• Education & heritage centre, conference facilities and social club

Yours sincerely,

Tom Daly
Chairman, Casement Park Project Board

Ulster GAA has welcomed correspondence received from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) this week which says that in the absence of a Minister, the Department may make the final decision on the Casement Park planning application.

Whilst welcoming this development, the GAA has expressed its frustration at the time it is taking to conclude the assessment process. DfI has acknowledged the delay and has confirmed that responses will be issued as soon as possible.

Commenting on the delay Tom Daly, Chairman Casement Park Project Board, said: “The planning application for the redevelopment of Casement Park was submitted in February 2017, yet over two years later the length of  time it is taking for some statutory bodies to respond to the planning authority is a cause of frustration within our project team and across the wider GAA community. 

“Our expert team has worked closely with the Department for Communities (DfC) to support all requirements within the planning process.  We implemented government recommendations in full, extensively consulted and produced a highly detailed and comprehensive planning submission to ensure the planning authority had all the information it required to make an informed decision on our plans to deliver upon the strategic stadium needs of our members and our communities. 

“Ulster GAA recognises and fully respects the required due diligence by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and all statutory consultees.  However, the prolonged nature of the planning process is stalling the project’s progress and is also impacting its budgetary estimate which is now likely to be in the region of £110m. With every day of delay pushing out the earliest possible start on site for the project it is imperative that government departments discharge their responsibilities as expediently as possible to mitigate against increased costs.

 “Ulster GAA is resolutely committed to the delivery of this project and to addressing the frustrations of our members and their communities’ that Gaelic Games remains the only sport which has not had its strategic stadium needs delivered within the Regional Stadia Programme, a Programme for Government priority.  

“We will continue to work closely with the Department for Communities and while we acknowledge the challenges, not least the negative impact upon communities that have yet to benefit from the investment in major stadium infrastructure, we look forward to an efficient completion of the planning process and the commencement of the next phase of the project’s development.

“Everyone at Ulster GAA would like to thank our members and our communities for their continued support throughout this process and we place on record our unambiguous commitment to ensure that Belfast will have a world class stadium for Gaelic Games to serve the needs of the GAA in Ulster, Antrim and throughout Ireland long into the future.”

Today the GAA has written an open letter to clubs and counties across Ulster regarding progress of the Casement Park project. Read the letter in full here… Continue Reading…

Former Down All-Ireland winning captain Paddy O’Rourke is a #BuildCasement supporter. Hear what he has to say in this short video clip… Continue Reading…

A fly through video of the proposed new Provincial Stadium at Casement Park was played to the 31,912 capacity crowd at the Ulster Football Final between Tyrone and Down yesterday. Continue Reading…

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Ulster GAA has announced that following an unprecedented 32 week consultation period it submitted its planning application today, to Belfast City Council for an iconic new provincial stadium at Casement Park.
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A report on the Casement Park project by the Safety Technical Group (STG) for the Casement Park Re-development represents a significant and very positive milestone in the development of the scheme, according to Tom Daly, Chairman of the Casement Park Project Board.
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