Northern Ireland

Michelle O’Neill ‘determined’ that Casement Park will be rebuilt

The derelict west Belfast GAA stadium has been earmarked as a venue for matches at Euro 2028.

A delegation from the organisers of the Euro 2028 football tournament on site this afternoon for an early inspection of the venue.
The venue in west Belfast is earmarked to host games at the tournament in four years.
But the stadium has yet to be redeveloped.
The deadline to complete the construction is mid-2027.
At this stage, there is not sufficient funding to pay for the redevelopment, which could cost more than £200m.
The west Belfast stadium was visited by a UEFA delegation ahead of work beginning to renovate the stadium ahead of Euro 2028

First Minister Michelle O’Neill has said she is determined that Casement Park will be rebuilt in time for Euro 2028.

But deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said any funding for the GAA stadium must be provided on a “fair and equitable basis”.

The Stormont leaders addressed the saga during a visit to a GAA club in west Belfast, close to Casement Park.

The derelict ground has been earmarked as a venue for the Euro 2028 football tournament.

Reports over the weekend suggested the cost of building a new stadium on the site for the Euros could cost £308 million.

In 2011, the Stormont Executive committed £62.5 million to the project.

Last month, the Irish Government offered £40 million towards it, and the GAA has said it will contribute £15 million.

A leaked letter reported by UTV on Friday suggested the UK Government had reservations around plugging the remaining funding gap.

Ms O’Neill said: “Casement Park is a flagship project for the Executive, it is the remaining stadium to be built and I am determined to see that that is the case.

Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly after their visit to St Paul’s GAA club in west Belfast
Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly after their visit to St Paul’s GAA club in west Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

“We are still working our way through the detail.

“I have read some of those figures and I think we need to dissect that a lot further.

“I hope we can move very quickly to get Casement built because that is part of the Euro bid which is going to be such a huge economic benefit for the people here.

“I am determined for us to get this project over the line and to secure the Euros here.

“The Euros is a huge opportunity for us not to be missed.”

Ms Little-Pengelly said no guarantees could be given until the costs are confirmed.

She said: “Costs have increased, we have yet to see what the cost of that is and we will consider that fully in the Executive in terms of proposals that come forward.

“But just to be absolutely clear, any funding must be done on a fair and equitable basis.

“We have to have that fiscal responsibility, we consider projects as they come up.

“Of course we have to consider the business case.”

Sinn Fein Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald said she continues to engage with the UK Treasury over funding for Casement Park.

She said: “We will continue to raise the issues that are being raised by Executive ministers to us.”

Asked if she was concerned that the UK Treasury would not provide the money, she replied: “We have seen the announcement by the Irish Government in relation to the funding for Casement Park and we haven’t yet had clarity from the British Government in relation to the commitment they made to provide the funding.

“We do need to continue to seek that clarity from the British Treasury and the British Government.”