Since my announcement in October recommending planning approval for the redevelopment of Casement Park, my officials continue to make considerable progress towards issuing the final planning decision. Departmental officials have been working at pace to progress the required planning agreement, which must be in place before the final planning decision can be issued. The Departmental Solicitor's Office (DSO) and the GAA's legal team remain in regular contact about the details of the planning agreement, and both parties are keen to reach an agreement as soon as possible. I look forward to the final planning decision being issued for the project, as I am of the view that the project will give a real boost to sport across our island and to the local economy and will, finally, give the GAA its home in Ulster.
The Minister is aware of the importance of the Casement Park project for the west Belfast community and, more widely, Gaels in Ulster. Will the Minister indicate when we can expect the final planning decision so that this highly anticipated investment can finally proceed? She knows that people have been waiting for years and years for this decision, and, hopefully, it can be made shortly. It can be done only when people have an indication of when that will be.
I agree with the Member that this will be an economic driver for the local economy in west Belfast and greater Belfast. It will also give a real boost to sport and all the benefits that come with that. I assure the Member that my officials are working at pace to progress this. It is, of course, right that we progress it at pace, but we must do so properly. My officials and I are committed to ensuring that all of the statutory processes are correctly completed in the quickest possible time frame.
I thank the Member for his question. My decision on 13 October to recommend planning approval for the new stadium at Casement Park followed a comprehensive assessment of the planning application by my officials, including extensive consultation with the relevant statutory consultees and the public. As Minister, I took all issues into consideration and all of the different views that were represented. I appreciate that this is not the decision that some residents wanted, but I have previously explained the reasons why I arrived at that conclusion. In doing that, I did not have any meetings with residents. However, as I said, I have closely examined and very carefully considered the representations on this planning application.