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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at today's announcement. Alamy Stock Photo
Funding

Government pledges €50m towards Casement Park redevelopment costs

GAA President Larry McCarthy welcomes ‘massive injection’ and hints that Association may increase contributuon.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 20th 2024, 2:40 PM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS pledged €50 million towards the redevelopment costs for Casement Park in Belfast to “maximise the benefits” of Ireland and UK’s joint hosting of Euro 2028. 

Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, confirmed the funding for the GAA stadium as part of an €800m package for cross border projects announced today.

Outgoing GAA President Larry McCarthy welcomed the Government contribution, hinting that the Association — who were unaware of the injection in advance — may increase the €17.5 million they have already committed.

“We need to know what the ultimate price is,” he told reporters at an integration steering group briefing in Croke Park this afternoon. “That’s critical in terms of any consideration of what we do but we’ll obviously take that news and consider it at management.

“It’s a significant boost to Casement Park, a significant boost to the project and hopefully now we’ll see it come to fruition. We’ve been very patient waiting for it but it’s great that it’s going to get that boost. It’s a massive injection.

“We finally seem to be getting progress. The critical thing is how much is it going to cost and how much difference does the €50m make to the balance.

“The Ulster Council, the Antrim County Board have been looking for this for many, many years. It’s going to be a great boost for them. It’ll be a magnificent step forward once it gets done.”

Redevelopment work on Casement Park began this week. The original projected price tag of £77.5 million (€91 million) is believed to have spiralled well above £100 million (€117.5 million). 

Casement Park — which is set to have a capacity of 34,578 when finished — is among 10 host venues earmarked for the 2028 Uefa European Championships.

The west Belfast ground has not been in use since 2013. Planning permission for the revamped ground was granted back in 2013, but those plans were later scrapped and a new proposal announced in 2017 also struggled to get up and running as costs soared.

The GAA announced in 2021 that construction for the redevelopment project was set to commence in the first half of 2022 and was expected to be a two-year build, though there have been several setbacks and legal challenges along the way.

Funding for the redevelopment remains a “big difficulty,” Stormont’s new Communities Minister Gordon Lyons said last week.

Ulster GAA said the construction activity which started this week would be “necessary maintenance and pre-enabling works,” which will continue throughout March.

Activity will be focused on initial ground works, with site clearance following suit from April to June, including the removal of the old terracing.

- Additional reporting from Emma Duffy and Hayley Halpin

- This piece was originally published at 1.56pm, and updated at 2.40pm with reaction from GAA President Larry McCarthy.

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