Northern Ireland

Casement Park: Minister challenged over safety concerns knowledge

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Media captionCarmel McCavana, chairperson of the Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents Association (MORA) claim they have evidence which contradicts the Minister's assertion

A residents' group has challenged the sports minister after she said she was unaware of safety concerns regarding the redevelopment of Casement Park.

Safety expert Paul Scott said last week the planned 38,000-capacity Belfast stadium could not be evacuated safely.

He told the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee there was the potential for a disaster like the Hillsborough tragedy.

Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said that the first she had heard of his claims was when he appeared before the committee.

She said she was "absolutely confident that had concerns of that nature been raised with my officials before I would have heard about it".

Image caption Carál Ní Chuilín said the project would happen on her watch

However, the Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents Association (MORA) claim they have evidence that contradicts the minister's assertion.

Carmel McCavana, chairperson of the association, said: "We have lots of evidence. It was presented in court [at the judicial review].

"We have reports that the police made to DCAL about safety concerns, so I just can't understand how she didn't know, or any of of her officials didn't know."

'Due process'

In a statement on Wednesday evening, a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) said Mrs Ní Chuilín had repeatedly said that "the allegations made to the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee on 30 April are now the subject of an independent investigation".

"This investigation will have access to all relevant documentation and will also take evidence from individuals as it deems appropriate."

The DCAL spokesman added: "It is important that due process is adhered to throughout the investigation and that conclusions are not drawn or inferred from selective material which has been obtained by the media."

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