MORA claims victory in Casement vote

By Francesca Ryan

The Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents’ Association (MORA) has claimed “a moral victory” after a majority of residents voted in favour of the plan to seek a judicial review of plans to redevelop Casement Park – and to reject financial offers from the contractor.

As we reported last week, residents’ votes on two options were to be counted on Wednesday evening. MORA Vice Chair Dominic McSherry explained the result but acknowledged concerns from those who are now calling for a suspension of the planned legal action.

“A total of 174 votes were distributed and 146 were collected, there were three spoiled votes,” he said.

“Option one, to proceed with the judicial review and reject any offer that does not significantly compromise on height, scale and traffic, won the majority of votes, 77.

“The other option, to continue with the judicial review and seek further clarification on the financial offer, won 66 votes.”

Dominic said residents’ concerns remain the same around the size and scale of the development and he added offering money is not going to address that.

“We believe the vote has demonstrated that, for residents, this was never about money or compensation,” he went on. “We have a moral victory here and it has shown that people will not be bribed. If the GAA and the builder are serious, then they should come back with an offer that addresses the concerns around the scale.

“People here enjoy living beside Casement. We want to see it redeveloped, but this very large scale proposition came out of nowhere and people don’t believe it is viable for such a densely populated area.”

Showing us the proximity of the park to his own back garden, Dominic said there are constant concerns cropping up around the plans for redevelopment, including the handling of potentially deadly asbestos.

“There are always new issues,” he said. “Residents are concerned about how they plan to contain asbestos fibres when they start working on it. The reality is that on one side of the wall there will be people in boiler suits and masks removing asbestos and on the other, my children will be playing away. Naturally people are highly concerned.”

Despite the ongoing concerns and the result of the vote, Dominic acknowledged that a petition has been signed calling on MORA to organise a further public meeting.

“There are now 20 signatures from residents calling for a public meeting, which we will hold within 21 days,” he said.

“The organiser is asking that a new proposal be put to residents that calls for an adjournment of the judicial review so that negotiations can occur with the contractor.

“We will need to consider this as a committee, as a democratic vote has already taken place to proceed with the judicial review and reject any offer that does not significantly compromise on height and capacity.”

The leave hearing on the Casement judicial review will take place on Thursday next (May 22).

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