Gaels euphoric over Casement Park revamp nod



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Northern Ireland Belfast Casement Park planning permission Image: Ulster GAA

Ulster GAA (Ireland) recently welcomed the announcement of formal planning permission for the redevelopment of its new provincial stadium at Casement Park in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

The ‘Ulster GAA’ quoted Tom Daly, Chairperson, Casement Park Stadium Development Project Board, as stating that the announcement is a “momentous” milestone for the Gaels of Antrim, Ulster and Ireland.

The Ulster Council is a provincial council of the Gaelic Athletic Association sports of hurling, Gaelic football, camogie (an Irish game resembling hurling, played by women or girls), and handball in the province of Ulster in Kingdom Republic of Ireland. The headquarters of the Ulster GAA is based in Armagh City (UK).

The Casement Park is the principal Gaelic games stadium in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and serves as the home ground of the Antrim football and hurling teams. It is located in Andersonstown Road in the West of the City, and named after the Republican revolutionary Sir Roger Casement.

The GAA has said that the project will undergo a two-year build with major construction set to commence in the first half of 2022.

The ‘Ulster GAA’ further stated that the project which is a commitment within the Northern Ireland Executive’s New Decade New Approach agreement, and it is the last remaining element of the Department for the Communities Regional Stadia Programme which has seen the completion of the Irish Football Association and Ulster Rugby’s stadia.

Commenting on the significance of the announcement and the important role that GAA members have played, Daly added, “This is a hugely significant announcement in the timeline for Antrim’s new home and Ulster’s new provincial stadium and I would like to thank Gaels throughout Ulster and Ireland for their patience, commitment and unwavering support since our application was submitted in 2017. That support has been invaluable to our team who have worked tirelessly throughout a robust and comprehensive planning process. Casement Park is a now a live catalyst for the development of Gaelic Games and it will not only host some of the largest, most significant and exciting sporting occasions on this island, but it will also be a venue that GAA clubs, schools and community organizations will access and use.”

“With a strong community focus, the project will create employment opportunities, increase footfall, support local business eco systems and supply chains, and it will significantly add to the vibrant cultural and arts heritage that exists in West Belfast and across the City. The combined impact of the construction phase of the project and its operations when complete will leave a lasting sporting, economic, health, and cultural legacy for many generations to come.”

The new stadium which will include an iconic bowl design with a capacity of 34,578 and a range of mixed-use facilities has been developed by global award-winning architects Populous.

Commenting on the announcement, Brian McEvoy, Chief Executive of Ulster GAA, maintained, “With planning permission granted we are now looking forward confidently to the construction phase with a clear pathway for the project’s delivery. The project team is working with the Department for Communities to finalize all remaining aspects of the business case and we will be launching an extensive, far-reaching and inclusive community engagement program in the coming weeks to help realize the significant opportunities that the stadium will deliver for the whole community. Ulster GAA is committed to working very hard to be a good neighbor to everyone.”

Commenting on the announcement, Ciarán McCavana, Antrim Chairman, stated, “The New Casement Park will inspire future generations of Gaels in Antrim and serve as a platform to drive forward and grow our games. The impact of the new stadium will not only be felt in the GAA community but in the wider community acting as a social and cultural hub in the heart of West Belfast. We can now look forward to the day when we see the saffron jerseys lining up in Casement Park once again.”

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