Casement costs 'significantly higher' than a year ago says Northern Ireland Secretary

The Government is “working to figure out” how much the renovation of Casement Park will cost, with recent prices “significantly higher” than they were a year ago, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said.

The GAA stadium in west Belfast is due to host matches at Euro 2028 as part of the UK and Ireland’s joint bid to host the football championships.

However, redevelopment of the ground has been plagued by delays and legal challenges and it has lain derelict for more than 10 years since closing in 2013.

The project had an original budget of £77.5m, but some estimates now put the cost at in excess of £300m.

During Northern Ireland questions shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Hilary Benn said: “The UK’s successful bid to host with Ireland the 2028 Euros is a fantastic opportunity for Northern Ireland, but with just three years left to build the Casement Park Stadium the Executive has yet to invite tenders.

He added: “Given the clock is now clicking how does (Mr Heaton-Harris) intend, with others, to honour that guarantee so the stadium gets built on time?”

Mr Heaton-Harris replied: “I really do want to see these Euro games played at Casement Park. I made clear that I would like to see Euro 2028 games take place in Casement Park, however the latest costs that I’ve seen are significantly higher than the ones they were a year ago.

“And any taxpayer contribution to the Casement Park project will need to be made on a value-for-money basis, and I’ve said also many times there is no blank cheque here, especially when there is no contractor appointed yet, we do not want to artificially inflate a price.

“The Northern Ireland Executive will also need to decide on whether and how it will underwrite any future increases in cost, so we are all, all partners are working together to try and figure out what the number is and how we can deliver on it.”

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