Northern Ireland

Casement Park redevelopment: Stormont-linked body recruiting technical director

Recruitment drive comes after Stormont chiefs confirm list of potential contractors yet to be established

Casement Park has been derelict since 2013

An organisation that supports Stormont departments is taking on the role of recruiting a technical director for the GAA’s troubled Casement Park redevelopment project.

The Strategic Investment Board (SIB) has launched a recruitment drive after it emerged that Department for Communities (DfC) chiefs have yet to establish a definitive list of contractors for the stalled project.

A non-departmental public body, the SIB is accountable to the First and deputy First Minister through The Executive Office (TEO).

It was reported last week that Uefa has drawn up contingency plans over concerns that Casement Park will not be ready to host the high-profile Euro 2028 tournament.

The proposed 34,500 capacity Casement Park stadium is included in the joint Ireland/Britain bid to host the Euro 2028 tournament.

It has been suggested that construction work must begin on the stadium, which is currently derelict, this autumn if it is to be ready in time for the tournament.

While the GAA originally took a lead role in driving forward the Casement Park project, in recent months responsibility appears to have shifted towards Stormont departments.

In 2013 the GAA’s Ulster council revealed that Co Derry based construction firm Heron Brothers and English company Buckingham Group were appointed to redevelop the landmark west Belfast GAA ground.

However, the project received a setback last August when Buckingham Group gave notice of its intention to appoint administrators.

It later went into administration owing more than £108m.

DfC confirmed last year it was taking the lead in the hunt for a new contractor after Heron Brothers was forced to withdraw from the multi-million pound project “due to technical restrictions within the Public Contract Regulations”.

The Stormont-linked SIB is now trying to recruit a new technical director to join the Casement Park team.

The successful candidate will share several responsibilities including “building consensus between a diverse group of stakeholders and for developing strategic relationships with internal and external suppliers”.

Unusually, the salary band for the new post has not been published and it is understood the issue of pay will be discussed with the successful candidate on appointment.

The person who gets the job is expected to have at least 10 years experience as a “project or programme director, working on large scale, strategically significant and complex projects”.

A spokeswoman for SIB said its “role is to support government departments in investment planning and delivery”.

“SIB’s recruitment of a Technical Director for Casement Park will help the Department of Communities to deliver this flagship project,” she added.

Initially budgeted at £77 million, it is now estimated the delayed building project will cost around £160m to complete, with the GAA set to pick up just £15m of the total.

Earlier this year, Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris said that the cash will be found to build the stadium.

The Casement Park stadium is currently derelict
The Casement Park stadium is currently derelict

Last year DfC said that a streamlined process would be pursued using “existing procurement frameworks for major construction projects with pre-qualified contractors”.

However, no details about the “pre-qualified contractors” have not been made public.

When pressed earlier this week a spokeswoman for DfC confirmed that “while the Department is exploring the use of national frameworks to deliver the Casement Park project, a definitive list of contractors has not yet been established”.

“In any event, in line with normal procurement procedures aimed at maximising competition and ensuring value for money the identity of contractors that may ultimately be invited to tender will not be published,” she said.

“Where a contract is awarded, the name of the winning tenderer will be published.”

Some unionist and soccer fans in the north are opposed to the stadium, which is named after executed republican Roger Casement, being used as a venue for Euro 2028.

When contacted a spokesperson for Uefa said: “We have no information to provide you with on this subject.”