UK government will not discuss Casement Park funding until it knows final cost

A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Office on Saturday said there are ‘wider public sector funding challenges’

The UK government will not discuss providing funds for Casement Park until it gets confirmation of the updated cost of the project, the Northern Ireland Office has said.

Casement Park, the former home of Antrim GAA, has had its gates closed since 2013. It has been earmarked to host games at Euro 2028, but reports over the weekend suggested the rebuild cost to be in the region of £308 million (€360 million).

At present the GAA has guaranteed £15 million (€18m), but that figure hasn’t changed since the original estimated cost of £77 million more than 10 years ago.

To date the only additional funding allocated for the proposed 34,000-capacity stadium has been from the Irish Government, which has budgeted for €50 million towards the stadium as part of the Shared Island Initiative.


A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Office on Saturday said there are “wider public sector funding challenges”, and that an updated cost will need to be presented to the UK government before serious talks can begin.

“The Northern Ireland Department for Communities is responsible for the redevelopment of Casement Park,” she said.

“The UK government will need to receive confirmation of the updated cost of the Casement Park project from the Department for Communities before detailed consideration can be given to allocating taxpayers’ money, particularly given wider public sector funding challenges.”

The Northern Ireland Department for Communities did not return a request for comment on Saturday.

New GAA president Jarlath Burns has ruled out the prospect of the GAA raising their contribution to the Casement Park project. Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster last week, he said that the issue had become a point of principle.

The British government has yet to announce its contribution and a final cost has yet to be reached. The project got some momentum last year with the announcement by Uefa that Casement would be the only venue in Northern Ireland suitable to host fixtures in Euro 2028.

Initially Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris was enthusiastic, saying last May: “We’ll get the money, don’t you worry.”

In Monday’s radio interview the GAA president said that it would not be fair to ask the association to raise its contribution.

“We [the GAA] are not found wanting when it comes to spending money throughout the country but on this particular issue for me it is a point of principle.

“We have pledged £15 million. In the programme for government for the last 12 years, there is a very strong commitment that Casement Park and it should be delivered. It is not our fault that the Maze stadium was abandoned. That should have been built and I don’t think we should be penalised for that.”

The Maze Prison project was a proposed shared facility from which other sports withdrew their support, leaving the GAA as the last man standing.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter