The iconic Casement Park in Belfast has finally sealed planning approval. Redevelopment to build the modern home of Ulster GAA can finally begin.
Gaels in Belfast, County Antrim, and all of Ireland rejoiced today. The eagerly anticipated redevelopment of the iconic Casement Park stadium finally received the final approval needed to begin reconstruction.
The GAA stadium, located in Andersonstown in west Belfast, has lain derelict over recent years. The stadium has fallen to ruin since shutting its doors for proposed redevelopment following Antrim’s 2013 Ulster Championship defeat to eventual winners Monaghan.
However, the stadium will now receive the major facelift it was promised. Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon signed off on the redevelopment following years of delays and disputes.
Delay after delay – finally, the wait is over
Ulster GAA announced far back in 2009 that it had plans to redevelop Casement Park. Demolition work began on the stadium but was soon halted. Passers-by soon lamented the sorry state the stadium was subsequently left in.
This was because the High Court in Belfast quashed planning approval for an initial 38,000 stadium plan back in 2014. A challenge was brought by local residents in the area. £11 million has already been spent on the stadium redevelopment.
However, Minister Mallon announced back in October 2020 that she wished to greenlight the stadium plans and has now officially done so.
This will see the grounds transform to a 34,00 seater, state-of-the-art, modern museum that will become the home of the Ulster GAA.
A great day for GAA in Belfast – growing the sport
The news that Casement Park is finally due to receive its redevelopment will come as a huge sigh of relief to all who supported it. It is now a source of massive excitement for Gaels across the city, county, province, and all of Ireland.
For too long, the Gaels of Antrim GAA have been homeless. Inter-county home games, county finals, and rival clashes have been scattered about the Saffron county.
Now all Gaels, young and old, can look forward to a capacity crowd watching on Antrim GAA’s, and indeed Ulster’s, top games.
Work to begin soon on the redevelopment – building Casement
Minister Mallon spoke in regards to the approval. She said: “All efforts now must be focused on getting this project funded and getting this stadium build.”
Brian McEvoy, Chief Executive of the Ulster GAA, said Ulster GAA are “now looking forward confidently to the construction phase with a clear pathway for the project’s delivery.”
Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey tweeted she will “work quickly to ensure that work begins to deliver an exciting, shining beacon for Ulster Gaels.”
Antrim GAA tweeted joyously that it is “finally time to have a home for Antrim GAA and all our clubs”.
Work on the redevelopment of Casement Park will last around two years, the GAA has confirmed. Major construction is due to start in the first half of 2022. It is not long now before Gaels across Belfast and Antrim will have a home.