Sinn Féin says Casement Park project should go ahead
SINN FÉIN has said the Casement Park GAA stadium project “can and must” go ahead as planned.
Newry and Armagh MLA Conor Murphy was speaking after Department for Communities permanent secretary Leo O’Reilly said the project was one of two “not being progressed in the absence of ministers”.
The claim was made in a letter to SDLP MLA Justin McNulty.
Casement Park was originally expected to cost £77m but Stormont officials say the GAA has told them more public funding is needed.
Revised plans for a 34,000 seater stadium were submitted last year.
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A £36.2m sub regional stadiums programme for soccer has also been held up as result of Stormont's collapse last year.
Mr Murphy said there is a contradiction in the department’s position.
“The department’s Permanent Secretary has been reported as saying that Casement isn’t progressing in the absence of ministers,” he said.
“However, he is also quoted as stating that they are continuing to deliver on a wide range of projects which were approved before March 2017 or where previous ministers had set a clear policy for spending priorities.
“There is a glaring contradiction there because Casement clearly falls into the latter category.
He said the Casement project was agreed by the Executive and was “an Executive priority project within the Programme for Government”.
Mr Murphy said Sinn Féin is seeking an “urgent meeting” with the department and “will be making it abundantly clear that the Casement project can and must progress as planned”.
“The development of Casement Park is a hugely important project that have a positive impact in the lives of people in the area providing opportunities for residents and businesses in terms of investment and job creation opportunities for West Belfast,” he said.
"It will also enhance Gaelic games throughout Antrim, Ulster and indeed across the island.”