DUP won't support additional funding for Casement Park despite inclusion in Euro 2028 bid

DUP won't support additional funding for Casement Park despite inclusion in Euro 2028 bid

THE DUP has said it is opposed to additional funding for the redevelopment of Belfast's Casement Park.

The proposed 34,500-seater ground is one of 10 included in a joint British and Irish bid to host Euro 2028, backed by both the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Irish Football Association (IFA) as well as their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales.

While the party said it supports the application to host the tournament, it opposed funding beyond that originally allocated to redevelop Casement, rugby's Ravenhill Stadium and soccer's Windsor Park.

North Down MLA Stephen Dunne, the DUP's sports spokesman, said an enhanced funding package 'does not align with competing pressures in schools, housing and hospitals'.

'Greatly concerned'

"When we met the IFA some weeks ago, we explained that we do not support additional funding for the building of Casement Park in Belfast beyond what was originally allocated by the NI Executive to the three sporting bodies," said Dunne.

"Whilst we support the joint Euro 2028 bid, we would be greatly concerned if Treasury was to unilaterally allocate additional resources to meet the GAA's shortfall in the Casement Park project at a time when other vital public services are in need of additional and necessary resources."

In 2011, the NI Executive announced funding to redevelop Casement, Ulster Rugby's Ravenhill and Northern Ireland's Windsor Park, in conjunction with their respective sporting bodies.

The Executive ultimately pledged £62.5m for the West Belfast ground, with the GAA committing £15m to the redevelopment.

However, the project has been hit by the inability to form an Executive as a result of the DUP's refusal to return to power-sharing.

An aerial view of a derelict Casement Park in June 2020 (Image: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Despite that, Stephen McGeehan of Ulster GAA told BBC Newstalk on Thursday that the project will be completed 'either with an Executive or with the support of the UK and Irish governments'.

Belfast Live reports the last estimate for the redevelopment was £112m, while the BBC this week reported that the final cost could be double the original £77m estimate.

As well as Casement, the joint British and Irish bid also includes Everton's new Bramley Moore Dock ground, which is currently under construction ahead of a proposed opening during the 2024/25 season.

Other grounds forming part of the bid include Dublin's Aviva Stadium, London's Wembley Stadium, the Principality Stadium in Wales and Glasgow's Hampden Park.

The successful Euro 2028 bid is expected to be announced in September, with Turkey also in the running.