Northern Ireland

Windsor Park: Leisure centre building 'factor in damage'

A comparison of the cracks in the damaged West Stand at Windsor Park
Image caption Cracks in the damaged West Stand were shown to be worsening earlier this month

Damage to the West Stand at Windsor Park was caused by circumstances including building work at an adjacent leisure centre, a Stormont committee has heard.

Cracks were discovered last month, following Northern Ireland's game against Finland when 4,000 spectators filled the stand.

The stand will be demolished.

Dr Denis McMahon of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) said it had been a "very unlikely scenario".

"There was undoubtedly a situation where a set of circumstances came together that were undoubtedly very worrying," he told the DCAL committee.

Image caption Building work has been taking place adjacent to Windsor Park

Rory Miskelly, who is overseeing the stadium project for the department, said: "The unique set of circumstances include after the match and prior to the incident, the ongoing work on the Olympia leisure centre site, which is immediately adjacent to the boundary of the rear of the West Stand."

He said there were a series of inspections prior to the Northern Ireland match, including a report by a structural engineer, which they assumed were correct.

"Subsequent to that the combination of ongoing work, potential weather and other matters, all of which are the subject of various technical reports and insurance matters," he said.

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Media captionA committee meeting was told building work was a factor in the stadium damage

It emerged at the hearing that both the Windsor Park work and the leisure centre upgrade are both "coincidentally" being carried out by the same contractor, Newry-based firm O'Hare and McGovern.

Mr Miskelly told the committee: "There is an interface in physical terms but it is a separate contract, it is a separate client.

"There is commonality in some of the parties, in that the contractor is the same on both sites, but from an assurance and insurance portfolio, both projects stand on their own merits."

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