Battle lines re-drawn over new Casement Park stadium plan

The BBC reports that the Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents Association (MORA) has said it opposes the recently unveiled revised GAA plan for a new stadium at Casement Park.  MORA campaigned successfully against the original proposal.  From the BBC report

In a statement, the residents group said it supported a “suitable-sized redevelopment” that was safe, did not host concerts and was “part of the natural fabric of the community”.

“The revised proposals for the redevelopment of Casement Park do not meet those requirements,” it said.

“The safe capacity of the ground is in the range of 11,239 to 18,264.

“That is the considered view of a report jointly submitted to the Safety Technical Group (STG) in January 2016 by the PSNI, NI Ambulance Service and the NI Fire and Rescue Service.”

It said the GAA’s proposed stadium was “almost twice the capacity” of that assessment and that the new plans had not been signed off by the STG.

MORA also said it was “extremely concerning” that the revised proposals provide for a “two-thirds increase in the number of ‘non-sporting events”.

The residents group said it would “continue to engage in the consultation process”.

“However, we believe that the GAA should acknowledge the very constrained nature of the Casement Park site and propose a redevelopment that is in keeping with its surroundings.”

On the other side of the argument, expect to hear more from the Sinn Féin and GAA friendly, self-styled Andersonstown Regeneration Committee, who conveniently appeared late in the day when the then Northern Ireland Sports Minister, Sinn Féin’s Carál Nί Chuilίn, and the project itself, was under pressure.

As an Irish News report from April 2015 notes

[ARC founder] Ms Bridghídín Heenan Heenan was chair of Ulster Camogie last year and is still involved in the organisation, but insisted ARC is “totally separate” from the GAA. “I’m a gael and like a lot of people I would like to see Casement there but I am not compromised,” she said. “We wanted a positive group of people together that has a positive outlook. We want to make sure investment comes in and meets the community’s needs. We want Casement to happen.”

Among those also involved in ARC is prominent republican Séanna Walsh, right, the man who in 2005 read the IRA statement announcing the end of its armed campaign.

Ms Heenan said although she has “personal friends” in Sinn Féin she is not involved in any political party.

The 51-year-old, who has lived all her life beside Casement, said the new residents’ group had not been “orchestrated” by anyone.

From the same BBC report noted previously

The Andersonstown Regeneration Committee (ARC) said it welcomed the new design and said the GAA had “listened and taken on board many of the concerns of the past”.

“We have spoken to many people this week since the announcement from the GAA was made.

“The vast majority of residents of Andersonstown are talking about it and there is plenty of positivity and excitement that this development will be on our doorstep within the next few years.”

Meanwhile, given the reported increase in the proposed number of ‘non-sporting events’ at the stadium, and the GAA’s ‘solution’ to the problem of traffic congestion and associated safety concerns at the site, in today’s Irish News, Newton Emerson notes

The GAA has revised its Casement Park plan with a park-and-ride solution to the stadium’s transport problem.

Project chair Tom Daly says this will require a “travel culture change” and [he] is not mistaken.

Gaelic games have a mainly rural following in Ulster and rural Ulster has a ‘travel culture’ straight out of the Dukes of Hazzard.

When Casement Park previously hosted large fixtures, cars were occasionally dumped along motorway slip-roads and up the hard shoulder of the M1.


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