#AE16 [Late election] announcements, for the better and the worse…

Three breaking stories, some of which deliberate some not so much…

– Expansion of Magee College – a key feature of promises by both Sinn Fein at the SDLP – has seen building of a new £11 million teaching block stopped when T&A Kernoghan Limited suddenly announced they were going into administeration with the loss of fifty jobs.

Concrete plans for a new Casement Park have yet to emerge. According to Stephen McGeehan of the Ulster GAA, there is “no pre-determined capacity for the stadium”, but nevertheless they are launching a 20 week consultation (taking us safely beyond the election).

– And in the middle of Purdah the DUP run DSD has rather publicly axed the £300 million Northside project to build 3,000 apartments and houses mostly as student accommodation (making it politically unpopular).

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • whatif1984true

    Casement Park will use the 38,000 capacity how often each year? I have yet to see any analysis of how 38,000 people will get to a stadium in the middle of a densely populated residential area. Has anyone worked out the number of cars/buses required and how it will close down the local area.
    I remember when the top of Owenvarragh was cottages, stewartstown road/Ladybrook were being built. Casement was there then but you could easily play football on the street there were many fewer cars.
    Things have changed and no one would consider building a stadium there if it was a greenfield/brown site. The GAA/Nationalist politicos are hung up on the past and as always are incapable of starting afresh.
    In job terms how many are people have fulltime employment at Casement today, the incremental increase with a new stadium will not be large. The only big thing will be a rash of PR photo opportunities and the local community bearing the cost.

  • Paul Gosling

    SDLP has pledged ‘Expansion of Magee to 10,000 students’. Latest Ulster Uni stats show 3833 FT students and 1265 PT students. Yesterday Gerry Diver said SDLP would correct loss of 1700 university students from recent cuts, plus create 1000 new student places. This does not add up. That is about 4000 student places short.

  • Jag

    Latest latest election announcement (see Mick, it is relevant!)

    Shock-horror. The Shinners’ only candidate for East Belfast has just been elected to the Seanad (2nd chamber of parliament in Dublin). Behold Senator Niall O’Donnghaile!

    So, there’s no Shinner candidate for a constituency with 80,000 voters in a city which has an overall majority of Catholics. Is that the best SF can do in 2016?

  • Gingray

    Why can he not stand for both? Does something stop him?

  • Jag

    Oh, he can certainly *stand* for both. But I believe the double-jobbing ban in the Assembly applies not just to Westminster, but to Dublin also. So, if he’s a member of the Oireachtas in Dublin, he can’t also be an MLA.

    Can he remain a councillor on the Belfast City Council whilst being a member of the parliament in Dublin? I think he probably can, but stand to be corrected.

  • Gingray


    Stop believing, and start looking at the facts. Seriously, its not hard to do before you start spouting nonsense.

    There are two pieces of legislation that cover double jobbing in Northern Ireland, a local one to stop local and assembly dual mandates, and an NIO one to stop assembly and other non NI based dual mandates.

    The second is covered by a 1975 act modified through a 2014 act.


    Section 4 is the pertinent bit (Members of the Dàil Èireann to be disqualified for membership of Assembly).

    As the Dàil is NOT the Seanad, your “claim” is in error.

  • Gopher

    Building 3000 houses in and around the busiest road junctions in Northern Ireland was nothing short of ludicrous even before you factor in the. students. Belfast needs infrastructure before it needs anymore idiotic housing projects.

  • scepticacademic

    Such pledges are meaningless in the context of on-the-ground rationalisation (staff cuts, course closures and declining no. of student places) at Magee and other UU campuses. Bottom line: How are they going to fund it? No party in NI seems willing to bite the bullet on student fees (English style), none seems willing to consider tax rises, yet all seem to see HE as a lower priority than other calls on the public purse. Consequence? NI HE will continue to whither and the ‘economic strategy’ around corp. tax reduction and FDI will be undermined.

  • Granni Trixie

    thanks so much, Paul – Mick – are you reading this?

  • Granni Trixie

    And I remember Casement when my pals had to be schooled there such was the lack of schools in Andytown.

  • murdockp

    All interesting stuff.

    Firstly, how did a construction construction company in such a weak financial position get appointed on a project of this size and is this happening elsewhere in NI as the damage to the SME and supply chain when a weak contractor falls over is devastating.

    Secondly are the Casement Team still in contract with Heron / Buckingham JV for a project of unknown scope. This is highly unusual and needs investigation from the National Audit office.

    Also how can a 20 week consultation period be opened for a project of unknown scope, again this is highly unusual as most consultations are launched once a design / scope has been decided.

    All highly unusual.

  • murdockp

    I reckon three times a year.

    If you say the stadium has a 50 year life, that is 150 games, which works out at £500,000 per game.

    And no one has mentioned the cost of maintaining the building once constructed, that is another £500k per game as well.

  • whatif1984true

    They were the older than 11 yr olds surely. They were there even when the Holy Child was the biggest Primary in UK.

  • whatif1984true

    There are no answers as the money spent is ‘organisation/government’ money which has no effect on the people spending it.