Revealed: the cost to the GAA of making peace with Casement Social Club is £500k in building costs and £25k in annual rent

The blueprint for the temporary Casement Social Club which will be immediately adjacent to the redevelopment site The blueprint for the temporary Casement Social Club which will be immediately adjacent to the redevelopment site
By Tiarnán Ó Muilleoir

ANTRIM GAA have unveiled plans for temporary premises intended to house Casement Social Club while the planned redevelopment of Casement Park goes ahead.

Ulster GAA is preparing a fresh planning application aimed at turning the Andersonstown venue into a provincial stadium. An earlier approval for the development was over-turned in the High Court last year after a judicial review challenge brought by local residents opposed to the scale of the project.

A letter written by Chairman of the Casement Social Club Interim Workgroup, Peter Quinn, on Monday to the Casement Social Club reveals the temporary social club facilities would be housed in a purpose-built modular building behind Owen-varragh shops in Andersonstown, next door to the stadium.

The social club would reside in the interim building for the duration of the redevelopment period, projected to be approximately two years, before returning to the interior of the newly built provincial stadium.

The plans provide for snooker rooms, a darts area, two bar areas and ancillary spaces for the use of members.

According to the letter the total cost of providing the facility will be in excess of £500,000, costs which are to be borne by the Association itself as “a statement of intent” in recognising the value and importance of the social club and its membership. The GAA will also cover the £25,000 annual rent for the temporary premises.

Belfast City Council approved a planning application for the temporary premises in May 2015 but construction is on hold until social club members respond to the offer with a commitment to vacate their current premises under the stand in Casement Park. In his letter Mr Quinn called for an urgent meeting with social club members to discuss the plans.

The latest development follows an official apology last week from Antrim GAA for the manner in which the County Board attempted to evict the social club from its premises last year.

Casement Social Club Chairman Bob Murray said the club had received Mr Quinn’s letter and are deliberating on their response.

“We only had a committee meeting this week so we are in the process of formulating a reply to the proposals offered by Antrim GAA. So far the reception by the club membership has been very positive,” he added.