ENVIRONMENT Minister Mark H Durkan today granted planning permission for a new stadium at Casement Park.
As a result the Ulster Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) can now build a new 38,000 capacity stadium on their existing site on the Andersonstown Road, Belfast.
Sports Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín described the announcement as a key milestone in the development of her regional sports stadiums programme which follows the Executive pledge of up to £110million of government funding for the redevelopment of three sports stadiums at Ravenhill, Windsor Park and Casement Park.
Mark H Durkan said: “This is a tremendous boost for Gaelic games and for sport here. Planning approval will now lead to the creation of a modern sports stadium with improved facilities and increased spectator comfort. The new stadium is a high quality design which will be a recognised landmark building which will assist with the ongoing regeneration of the Andersonstown Road and boost the city of Belfast.
“This stadium will have the potential to host cross-provincial matches usually played at Croke Park or Clones. This will boost sports tourism and the economy in the North. Jobs during the construction phase and additional jobs for the daily management are to be welcomed.
“This has not however been an easy decision. Having met with local residents I understand their concerns about the impact of the proposal. As Environment Minister for the whole of the North, my decision cannot ignore the regional benefits that will result from the development of this stadium and how it fits with the Executive’s programme for government.
“The future management of events is key to the success of the stadium and I expect the GAA to honour their commitment to help ensure that a vibrant stadium can exist within and for the benefit of the local community and indeed all of Northern Ireland. I believe this proposal can build a better environment and a stronger economy.”
Sports Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín welcomed the decision. She said: “Having planning approval granted for Casement Park is the final part of the jigsaw in the regional sports stadium programme. Not only is this a tremendous boost for the GAA in Ulster, the re-development of Casement will bring many benefits to the community in West Belfast through construction jobs and a catalyst for regeneration in the area around the stadium.
“The granting of planning permission today highlights the excellent progress being made by the GAA and the Stadium Development programme. 2014 will see the completion of Ravenhill and construction work beginning here and at Windsor. The city of Belfast can be proud of its modern sports infrastructure. It also shows how government working across Departments with a common objective can deliver for the people here.”