Northern Ireland

Casement Park: GAA to submit new redevelopment proposals

Aerial view of the old Casement Park stadium
Image caption The GAA's plans to redevelop Casement Park stadium have been dogged by controversy

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has said it is preparing to submit new plans for the redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.

The multi-million pound project has been beset with problems and delays.

Planning permission for the sports stadium was overturned in 2014 after objections by local residents.

Last month, the association said it was working on a new design for the stadium. Ulster GAA has now embarked on a 20-week consultation process.

In its first submission, the GAA proposed to build a 38,000-capacity stadium at the existing site.

A whistleblower, safety expert Paul Scott, claimed he was bullied when he raised concerns that under the initial plans the stadium could not be evacuated safely in emergencies.

Tom Daly, chairman of the Casement Park Project Board, told the BBC that safety was a priority for the GAA.

"We will arrive at a point where we put a capacity in for our new stadium going forward. We will have a debate about that again through a consultative process," he said.

"At this point in time we're not going there because we need to get the wide range of views from everybody who has an interest in this project."

He added: "This will be a facility everyone in west Belfast, County Antrim, Ulster and throughout Ireland will be immensely proud of, and a stadium that the next generation of young people can aspire to play in."

Stephen McGeehan, the Casement Park project sponsor for Ulster GAA, said that there was no pre-determined capacity for the stadium.

"Our planning consent was quashed the last time around following the claim taken against the DOE (Department of Environment) minister's decision," he said.

'Provincial stadium'

"We're genuinely starting today in a 20-week consultation period, that's well beyond the minimum statutory period of 12 weeks.

"We're doing that because we recognise the time that's required to listen to people's views, have those voices heard both positive and negative and to decide at a later stage what the actual capacity of Casement Park will be."

Mr McGeehan added that the aim was for "a provincial stadium" and there is a requirement for a capacity beyond 18,000 so that it can hold major events.

The GAA will hold a series of consultation events in west Belfast to hear the views of people in the area.

They will take place at Conway Mill, Andersonstown Leisure Centre and Glen Community Complex on 24, 25 and 26 May.

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