GAA welcome Government’s €50m funding package for Casement Park redevelopment

GAA president Larry McCarthy says association’s contribution may increase but not before final cost of project is more certain

GAA president Larry McCarthy has welcomed the Government’s €50 million injection for the redevelopment of Casement Park, but says any further financial contribution from Croke Park will be contingent on the final costing of the project.

The Government announced a funding package on Tuesday of €800 million for cross-Border initiatives, which included €50 million for the eternally delayed development of Casement Park in Belfast, which is among the 10 grounds earmarked to host games in Euro 2028.

The original estimated costing of the stadium, which closed in 2013, was £77 million (€90 million) but the most recent price tag put on the project last summer was £168 million (€196 million).

Clearance works have finally started at the site and McCarthy admits the Irish Government’s contribution is hugely positive.


“It’s a significant boost to Casement Park, a significant boost to the project and hopefully now we’ll see it come to fruition,” he said. “We’ve been very patient waiting for it but it’s great that it’s going to get that boost.

“It’s a massive injection. We finally seem to be getting progress. The critical thing is how much is it going to cost and how much difference does the €50 million make to the balance.”

The GAA originally pledged £15 million (€17.5 million) to the project but there have been calls for the association to increase its funding, given the final cost continues to rise.

When pushed on an increased contribution during the launch of his annual report recently, GAA director general Tom Ryan indicated there was unlikely to be a change from Croke Park.

“At the time we made that commitment, it was a significant burden and it was only last year that we reached full provision in our accounts – that was 10 years later,” he said.

“You’ve seen our figures and admirable as it is as a financial performance, there’s not a whole lot of scope for something in excess of what has been committed to Casement.”

However, when asked on Tuesday about the GAA putting more funding in place for Casement, McCarthy did not rule it out, but said there first there had to be more certainty around the final cost.

“First of all, we need to know what the ultimate price is,” stated McCarthy. “That’s critical in terms of any consideration of what we do, but we’ll obviously take that news and consider it at management.”

Either way, Ulster GAA believe the financial boost from the Irish Government will help push the project forward.

“We welcome, and thank the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Government for the hugely significant and important contribution to support the construction of Casement Park, which will leave a legacy not only for the Gaels of Antrim and Ulster, but for all of society,” said Tom Daly, Ulster GAA stadium board chairman.

“We have been working closely with the Taoiseach’s office to bring the Irish Government on board to contribute to the Ulster GAA’s overall partnership funding package for the stadium, which reflects its ambition to foster long-lasting sporting, cultural and economic opportunities in the province.

“Throughout the process the Taoiseach and all of Government have been steadfast and consistent in their support for, and commitment to, helping Ulster GAA deliver a modern fit for purpose GAA stadium for the whole community.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hopes the financial contribution from the Government can help progress work towards the Euros in four years.

“The redevelopment of Casement Park stadium in Belfast will help maximise the benefit for Northern Ireland of hosting games in the UEFA Euro 2028 championship which is a major East-West project.”

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Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times