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Casement Park clearance work ahead of major redevelopment

Preparatory work has begun at Casement Park in Belfast as part of plans for a major redevelopment of the GAA ground which is due to host Euro 2028 games.

Workers moved onto the site this morning to begin clearance work.

The ground has lain derelict since 2013, as development plans became mired in the planning process.

The original cost of the redevelopment was £76m when it was first mooted, with £15m of that being put in by the GAA and the rest by the Stormont Executive.

But in the intervening decade development costs have risen sharply, leaving questions over what the final bill would be and how it would be met.

There is no current figure on the build out of the 34,000-seater stadium, but it could be anything up to £200m.

The Stormont Executive had committed £61m to the original project a decade ago, but is living within a tight budgetary framework.

That means the extra money will most likely have to come from Irish and British governments.

Further clarity is expected on the funding situation soon.

Workers moved onto the site this morning to begin clearance work

The Taoiseach has said the Government is willing to make money available to the project.

Northern Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has suggested the money would be found.

Major works have to have started by the end of May this year and the entire project has to be finished by 2027 if Casement is to be ready for the Euros in 2028.

It is one of ten grounds in Ireland and the UK that have been selected to stage games.

The preparatory work is expected to take several months and will include the removal of terracing.

The intention is to leave the site “shovel ready” once the project’s funding question has been finalised.

The news that work had begun today was welcomed by those associated with Antrim GAA.

Former Camogie All-Star Jane Adams said it would give the opportunity to “a lost generation of Gaels” to return to their sporting home.

Kevin Gamble of Féile an Phobail, a huge annual community festival, said the stadium would be a important economic driver for the entire city.

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