Wednesday 25 April 2018

GAA urged to dedicate additional resources to Casement Park redevelopment

A general view of Casement Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim
A general view of Casement Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim

Michael McHugh

The GAA has been urged to dedicate a full-time leader and significant additional resources to the Casement Park redevelopment.

A Project Assessment Review (PAR) led by the Cabinet Office said a commanding figure was needed to manage consultants and contractors and liaise with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).

But it acknowledged considerable professionalism and resilience already from the sporting organisation following a judicial review brought by a local residents' group.

The report said: "Any project of this scale, even one that has not had to deal with the complex issues experienced by Casement, needs an experienced and commanding leader, reporting to the GAA project Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), who can direct challenge and manage delivery on a day to day basis.

"The review team believes that tangible benefit would be derived from the appointment of a project leader, experienced in the delivery of major construction projects, who would be able to robustly manage GAA's consultants and contractors and act as a key point of contact between the project, the DCAL programme and other stakeholders including within the GAA.

"In addition to an established client-side track record of successful delivery of projects of this scale, this individual needs to be able to support the wider needs of the programme as a whole, such as supporting improved working relationships between stakeholders and improving the clarity of decision making and reporting."

The appointment would last for the next 12-18 months.

The review said it could not find support for Sport NI's view that evacuation to safety had to take place within eight minutes.

It added the goal of successfully constructing and operating a regional stadium at Casement Park was still achievable.

An Ulster GAA statement said: "The PAR report is a clear vindication of the premium which the GAA attached to the development of a new safe stadium on the Casement Park site.

"It is also supports the interpretation of both the Red and Green guides in terms of emergency exiting, as advanced by the GAA's project personnel and our world class stadium design team."

Press Association

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