The Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association has announced that Heron Bros Limited will no longer be delivering the main works contract for a redeveloped Casement Park, the Belfast stadium that is due to be a host venue during the UEFA Euro 2028 football tournament.
Heron Bros Limited had been Ulster GAA’s long-standing construction contractor for the Casement Park project. Plans for a new venue at Casement Park have been on the table for more than 10 years but the project has stalled due to financial and planning issues.
Last month, it was announced that Euro 2028 will be co-hosted by England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. A redeveloped Casement Park is scheduled to be Northern Ireland’s sole host venue.
Last year, a legal challenge against the redevelopment of Casement Park was rejected. Work on a new 34,578-seat Gaelic sports stadium, designed by Populous, had initially been due to begin in the first half of 2022. Planning permission was granted in July 2021.
Casement Park has been closed since 2013. After the stadium was confirmed as a Euro 2028 host venue last month, some football fans in Northern Ireland questioned the rationale behind the redevelopment of the venue.
Ulster GAA announced on Friday that Heron Bros Limited will not be delivering the new stadium as previously planned. Ulster GAA is now working with its partners at Northern Ireland’s Department of Communities 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 said in a statement.
“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.”
Heron Bros Limited participated fully in a recent due diligence exercise after its joint venture partner, Buckingham Group Contracting, fell into administration. Ulster GAA said that Heron Bros Limited demonstrated its capacity and capability to bring the project forward, but restrictions of the Public Contract Regulations prevent the governing body from pursuing its preferred option of retaining and modifying the existing contract for the work.