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Casement Park, Antrim in 2012.
Casement Park, Antrim in 2012.

Casement Park Project Board raise concerns

Tom Daly, Chairman of the Casement Park Project Board, has written a letter to all GAA Units in Ulster to communicate their frustration with a prolonged planning process.

The Andersonstown Road venue hasn't hosted an inter-county fixture since 2013, but Daly is hopeful that in the next year refurbishment work can start.

On Monday it will be 1,000 days since Ulster GAA submitted a planning application in February 2017 for the new Casement Park in Belfast.

"As we approach that time of year when club and county committees throughout Ulster host conventions/AGM’s to review 2019 activities, I am writing to you to communicate our deep frustration that the plans for a new Provincial Stadium at Casement Park continue to be encumbered by a prolonged planning process," Daly says in the letter.

"Monday (25th November) 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."

How the impressive refurbishment work carried out at Kingspan Ravenhill Stadium and Windsor Park have aided the development of rugby and soccer in Belfast is noted in the letter.

"The completion of Kingspan Ravenhill stadium 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," it continues.

"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, with the Casement Park project contributing significantly to sporting, cultural and economic prosperity."

The Casement Park Project Board have stated their issues with the process, but remain hopeful that the renovation can commence in 2020.

"Earlier this year we wrote to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to express our concerns about the planning process and the length of time it was taking some statutory bodies to respond to information requests," the letter adds.

"While we welcome the Department’s response which recognised our frustration and indicated that the process will soon be drawing to a close, we remain focused on ensuring our members are provided with absolute clarity on when, and by whom, a decision will be made.

"We can also confirm that we have submitted our final draft version of the business case for the project to the Department for Communities (DfC) and look forward to its continued progression through inter-departmental processes to the Department of Finance (DoF).

"Thereafter, subject to planning approval and securing the additional investment required to deliver the project we remain hopeful that work could commence in 2020 at Casement Park."

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