Northern Ireland news

SDLP 'fully supports' more public money for Casement Park

Casement Park, west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

THE SDLP has called for Casement Park to receive more public money to plug an almost £33 million funding shortfall.

Ulster GAA last week confirmed the estimated cost of the stadium's proposed redevelopment has risen to £110m, compared to the original budget of £77.5m.

Stormont has already pledged £62.5m towards the west Belfast project with the GAA providing £15m, but association chiefs now want more public money to help bridge the gap.

Civil servants say they cannot allocate more funding without ministerial approval.

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty, a former Armagh All-Ireland winner, said his party is "eager to see the redevelopment of one of Ireland's great sporting amphitheatres".

"We fully support the funding gap being plugged to ensure major Gaelic games can once again be played at this historic venue."

He said the "continued stand-off between the DUP and Sinn Féin means that Casement will shamefully continue to lie empty and dormant".

Northern Ireland has not had a power-sharing government since the DUP and Sinn Féin-led executive fell apart in 2017 in the wake of the RHI scandal.

Both parties insist they want devolution restored, but disagree over issues including same-sex marriage and an Irish language act.

Stormont's five main parties were asked yesterday whether Ulster GAA should receive more public funding for Casement.

Sinn Féin, the DUP and UUP did not respond.

Alliance did not say whether more public money should be allocated, but East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle said in a statement the increased cost was "significant and worrying" and branded it "yet another consequence of the failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to form an executive".

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