Alliance representatives have welcomed approval being granted for the redevelopment of Casement Park but said the local community needs to benefit from the plans.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon gave the go-ahead for the redevelopment of the West Belfast ground, which saw initial proposals fail in 2014 following a legal challenge by some locals.
“This is a welcome move by the Minister, given how long Casement Park has sat empty,” said Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA.
“It is important all sports have a home ground suitable to meet the needs of the team as well as the wider sport. The funding for Casement has escalated over recent years due to delays and legal processes. The Communities Minister needs to manage the expenditure for Casement to ensure the stadium will be completed and the cost does not continue to increase.
“The Minister also needs to clarify the funding process for sub-regional stadia and whether the amount allocated for those venues will be updated, given how much time has passed since the original announcement. All sport needs investment. The Casement budget has increased over time. It should come as no surprise the football sub-regional stadia costs will also have increased by now.”
“I am delighted the Minister has passed these plans. The redevelopment of Casement Park has the possibility to help regenerate the entire Andersonstown Road and wider West Belfast area,” added Alliance West Belfast representative Donnamarie Higgins.
“While the proposals have been altered since the initial application, the needs of the local community need to come first. We have seen other areas of the city where locals did not benefit from the redevelopment of stadia. That cannot be allowed to happen in West Belfast as well.”