A “desperately slow” process to redevelop Belfast’s Casement Park won’t speed up should Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid fail.
The Anderstown Road stadium had been listed among the stadia to host the competition in six years time, which was expected to accelerate the planning schedule after the initial proposals were ruled unlawful in December 2014.
GAA director general Páraic Duffy admits the delayed reconstruction of the venue is troubling. “I’m worried about Casement Park from a GAA point of view because it has gone on so long. I’m here since 2008, 2009 is the first time the Ulster Council approached us about funding for Casement Park. I’m worried in that eight years on, they still haven’t got planning permission. I’m worried about it from a GAA point of view, obviously the Rugby World Cup bid point of view. I do think Casement will get there. I honestly believe that. But it’s desperately slow.”
Speaking at yesterday’s GAA master fixtures plan launch, Duffy had not yet been made aware of the RWC’s technical group’s concerns about the viability of some of the GAA’s stadia in Ireland’s proposal. “All I will say is, we offered our stadia as they are. Everybody recognised that if the tournament does come here, work will have to be done to the stadia. There is nothing new in that.”
Like Dick Spring, Duffy hasn’t yet written off Ireland’s chances of hosting the tournament despite yesterday’s setback. “I’m a member of the Oversight Bid Committee so it’s a matter for the IRFU to make a comment. The one thing I would say is, it’s not the decision. But what has come out this morning is disappointing. I’ve no doubt the bid team will work really, really hard over the next couple of weeks.”
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