Design & Development

New GAA president against more funding for Casement Park

Featured image credit: Ulster GAA/Populous

Jarlath Burns, the newly appointed president of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), has said that he is not in favour of the organisation providing further funds for the Casement Park stadium project in Belfast.

Casement Park is due to be Northern Ireland’s sole host stadium during the UEFA Euro 2028 national team football tournament, which the country will co-host alongside England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

Last week, the project received a boost as the Irish Government pledged €50m (£42.8m/$54.2m) towards the scheme as part of wider investment commitments of over €800m for Shared Island projects.

The redevelopment project is owned and managed by the GAA Ulster Council in cooperation with the Northern Ireland authorities, who are working to bring together an overall funding package to deliver the new-look stadium. Earlier in the month, Ulster GAA announced that initial development work had commenced on the project.

Casement Park has been closed since 2013. Plans for a new venue have been on the table for more than 10 years but the project has stalled due to financial and planning issues.

Costs have reportedly risen significantly from the originally intended £77.5m. The GAA has pledged £15m towards the project but is yet to reach a deal with the Stormont Executive to complete the financing package, and Burns has said he will not be voting for an increase in the GAA’s funding commitment.

Speaking to the BBC today (Monday), Burns said: “I think it’s unfair for people to be talking about coming up with more money.

“We have already done all of our budgets for this year. The GAA is not a profit-making organisation, we do not have shareholders we have stakeholders, they are the clubs and people all around the country.”

He added: “There are very high specifications for these (Euro 2028) games and that’s why it’s going to take a lot more money than we thought to build Casement to that specification. The (UK) government should do whatever it took to make sure Casement Park was built in a way that was commensurate with the needs and standards of a Euro competition

“(It’s) hard to say how much it’s going to cost, I’m not in the actuarial game. It’s at a very sensitive stage.”

In November, Ulster GAA announced that Heron Bros would no longer be delivering the main works contract for a redeveloped Casement Park. Heron Bros had been Ulster GAA’s long-standing construction contractor for the Casement Park project and participated fully in a due diligence exercise after its joint venture partner, Buckingham Group Contracting, fell into administration.

The redeveloped Casement Park would have a capacity of 34,500. Work on a new Populous-designed stadium had initially been due to begin in the first half of 2022.