Latest setback for Casement Park project leads to call for the ‘ill-conceived scheme’ to be scrapped

A computer generated image of Casement Park following the rebuilding project. Ulster GAA (Photo: Ulster GAA)

That is the view of TUV deputy leader and Belfast councillor Ron McDowell, who said there was already a lack of support from football fans for using the GAA stadium as a host venue for Euro 2028.

On Friday, Ulster GAA said it has become clear that the restrictions of the Public Contract Regulations – following Heron Bros Limited’s joint bid partner falling into administration – prevents Ulster GAA “from pursuing its preferred option of retaining and modifying the existing contract for the project”.

Last month, Uefa gave its seal of approval for the UK and the Republic of Ireland to jointly host Euro 2028 – a bid that involved 10 stadiums, including the as yet unbuilt 34,000-seat arena in west Belfast.​

The GAA has said the total cost of the project has risen to between “£112m and £140m – not including VAT,” up from an estimated £77.5m at the outset.

On Friday, Ulster GAA said: “We are working closely with our partners in the Department for Communities (DfC) to progress procurement of a contractor using recognised frameworks for major
construction projects.

“We are determined and confident that construction work will commence in line with the timelines required to host the UEFA EURO Championships in 2028.

“Ulster GAA is bringing forward critical aspects of the construction programme to progress the project, at pace, during the process to secure a new main contractor in the coming months, including site clearance and a range of enabling works packages.”

However, Cllr McDowell said: “The whole Casement project has been characterised by delays, ridiculous overspending and zero regard for the interests of the taxpayer never mind Northern Ireland football fans who are implacably opposed to the scheme.

“If these latest developments result in something more for Casement as part of a deal to get a Protocol implementing Stormont back in place support will, if possible, fall even lower.”

“It is time the powers that be called time on an ill-conceived scheme which has already eaten up far too much public money in favour of a legacy to the Euros that does nothing to benefit local football and grass roots development of the sport in Northern Ireland”.

Story continues

The Ulster GAA statement went on to say: “Heron Bros Limited participated fully in a recent due diligence exercise following its JV partner, Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, falling into administration and demonstrated their capacity and capability to bring this project forward.”

A DfC spokesperson said: “We are progressing the options that are available via existing procurement frameworks for major construction projects with pre-qualified contractors, providing an effective delivery model for the project going forward.

“We remain fully committed to the delivery of this flagship project, which is uniquely placed to boost the development of both Gaelic games and football, as well as offering long-term economic and social benefits in Northern Ireland and beyond.

“We are continuing to work closely with the UCGAA and all our partners across Government, local Government and the IFA to ensure delivery in line with the UEFA requirements for the hosting of Euro 2028 matches in Northern Ireland.”


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