An artist’s rendering of the still hoped for Casement Park
By Anthony Neeson
One thousand days after it submitted its ambitious plans for a 34,000 all-seater stadium in Belfast, the head of Ulster GAA has expressed his “deep frustration” at the stalled project.
In 2011, the Stormont Executive agreed funding for new stadia at soccer’s Windsor Park and rugby’s Ravenhill in Belfast.
Both projects were realized and opened in the intervening years, but Casement Park still lies idle on the Andersonstown Road after planning approval was quashed in December 2014, this following a campaign led by local residents.
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In February, 2017 Ulster GAA submitted a new application after significant changes to its original plans.
In a letter to all Ulster GAA units, Tom Daly, the chair of the Casement Park Stadium Development Project Board, said: “Monday 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 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.”
The absence of ministers at Stormont has been cited as a contributing factor in the new stadium’s delay. Stormont hasn’t sat since Sinn Féin collapsed the power-sharing executive over the RHI scandal nearly three years ago.