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Good news for north GAA Casement Park redevelopment in west Belfast has been given the go-ahead

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The much-delayed re-development of Casement GAA Park in west Belfast has been given the go-ahead

The much-delayed re-development of Casement GAA Park in west Belfast has been given the go-ahead

SPORTSFILE

The much-delayed re-development of Casement GAA Park in west Belfast has been given the go-ahead

The much-delayed re-development of Casement GAA Park in west Belfast has been given the go ahead by a Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive.

Stormont infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, who is a member of the SDLP, announced via twitter that she is recommending approval for the long-awaited project to convert the ground into a 34,000-capacity venue.

She said it would transform Gaelic games and the economy of west Belfast. The project has long been mired in controversy with initial planning approval for a 38,000-capacity venue quashed by the Belfast High Court in 2014 following a challenge by local residents.

The rebuild is anticipated to cost in the region of €121m having initially being budgeted at €85m.

The GAA at national level had pledged to back the project financially. However, with the Association expected to lose €50m this year and further loss anticipated in 2021 due to Covid-19 it is likely that all capital projects will be reviewed.

However, given the strategic importance of the stadium which once regularly hosted Ulster football finals, the GAA is likely to continue to support the project, though funding will be required from the British exchequer as well.

A document known as a Notice of Opinion to approve will now be issued to Belfast City Council and Ulster GAA. If both bodies agree with the decision, all relevant parties will then work to finalise a planning agreement on how to proceed with the rebuild. Once that is concluded, Ms Mallon will issue final planning approval.

Ulster GAA described the announcement as ‘hugely positive’

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