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Casement Park

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 15th November 2016.

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Photo of Pat Sheehan Pat Sheehan Sinn Féin 3:00 pm, 15th November 2016

5. Mr Sheehan asked the Minister for Communities for his assessment of the Ulster GAA's new plans for Casement Park. (AQO 675/16-21)

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

I recently met the GAA, which presented the emerging design for the redevelopment of Casement Park prior to the launch of its phase 2 community consultation. The design proposals presented by the GAA demonstrated how issues raised in the 2014 judicial review and through the phase 1 community consultation have been incorporated into the designs.

My Department remains fully committed to the redevelopment of Casement Park and will continue to work with all parties to ensure the successful delivery of a new, safe stadium at the Casement Park site. It is anticipated that a new planning application will be submitted in the third quarter of the 2016-17 financial year.

Photo of Pat Sheehan Pat Sheehan Sinn Féin

Mo bhuíochas leis an Aire as ucht a fhreagra. I thank the Minister for his answer. Will he give a reassurance that the social clauses for the redevelopment of Casement Park will be an integral part of the redevelopment of a new stadium?

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

I am happy to give that assurance. In a lot of these contracts, the Executive are very much of the view that the social clauses are very important and can help people to get the skills they need to get future employment. They give people an opportunity. So, as this is developed, they are something I will want to see included. They will have a positive impact on those who will benefit from it, and the community will obviously get a benefit from that.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

I am sure the Minister will agree with me that the rights of residents who live in the vicinity of large stadiums should be respected. In that regard, will the Minister outline what actions his Department is taking to address the concerns of residents who live in the vicinity of Windsor Park?

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

I thank the Member for his question. It is an issue he has raised with me on a number of occasions. These stadiums are, obviously, in residential areas. Casement will be in a heavily populated residential area, as are Ravenhill, or Kingspan, and the national stadium at Windsor Park. Therefore, it is important that there is constructive engagement with the local community.

Where the national stadium is concerned, there is a community stadium board. That was a requirement from the Department in the money that was allocated to the IFA. That board meets on numerous occasions. It has representatives and key stakeholders, including the council, the Police Service and local residents, and it provides a forum for ongoing local engagement and discussion. I know there will be further work with the Department and officials who are working with Mr Stalford to determine the nature and extent of the issues being faced by residents. It is in everybody's interests that these issues are effectively managed, and residents are supportive of the work that is taking place at the national stadium at Windsor Park.

Photo of Jennifer Palmer Jennifer Palmer UUP

Does the Minister agree that safety is a paramount consideration and planning decisions must be made on material planning grounds? Will he encourage his colleague the Minister for Infrastructure to take his decision on Casement on a completely non-political basis?

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

The Member invites me to get involved in something that is not my responsibility. It will be for the GAA to submit the planning application. I have made it clear from my point of view and that of the Department that there is an Executive commitment to develop the three stadia. This is the last one that needs to be delivered on, but it is for the GAA to develop that planning application. It has gone through that process. It is moving into the next phase, and it is for the GAA to navigate through the processes. I do not know whether it is a matter for the Department for Infrastructure or whether it will be Belfast City Council, but that will be something I am sure the Department will deal with and deal with according to due process.

Photo of Daniel McCrossan Daniel McCrossan Social Democratic and Labour Party

Does the Minister recognise the invaluable contribution that the GAA has played in communities such as mine? What is the Minister doing to promote and support the enhancement of the sport going forward?

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

I certainly do. I met Danny Murphy recently, and we had a broad conversation around how the GAA plays an important role in the community. It was a frank conversation. I very much value the work that the GAA does from a sporting perspective, and I acknowledged that. We also had a discussion around the Irish language and the more cultural dimension of the GAA, and that was a conversation that was honest. It was one where the GAA was very clear on its view that this is fundamental to the organisation. I indicated to it that, when I meet the Irish Football Association and when I meet Ulster Rugby, neither of those organisations lobbies me around cultural issues. That makes the GAA unique, and I believe that that presents challenges. From a sporting perspective, I am very supportive of it.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

Does the Minister support the Executive-agreed subregional football stadia funding programme commitment to redevelop the Oval, in partnership with Glentoran Football Club, on a budget of £10 million? Why has he refused to meet Naomi Long and me on this matter, despite meeting numerous DUP MLAs on the issue?

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Deputy Speaker

While that is not relevant to the question, it is, of course, up to the Minister's discretion to determine the answer.