Monday 28 May 2018

Hundreds turn out to show support for €850m Apple datacentre earmarked for Athenry

An artist’s impression of the data centre planned for Athenry in Co Galway
An artist’s impression of the data centre planned for Athenry in Co Galway
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

Up to 300 people turned out in Athenry today to show their support for the €850m Apple datacentre earmarked for the town.

A court ruling on whether the major development can go ahead will be delivered next week.

While organisers of today’s event acknowledge the march will not impact on the outcome, they insisted they wanted to show support for the development.

“Ireland and the West of Ireland is crying out for investment like this. But the feedback we are getting from oversea investment companies is that they feel we are against this development. That is not the case,” said Athenry for Apple campaigner Paul Keane.

He called for urgent changes to the planning system and the fast tracking of such decisions  to ensure towns were not left in limbo for years waiting on a proposed development.

“We’ve no problem with a judge making the judgment on this but we have a major problem with the time it takes. The main issue here is not the objectors, objectors are fundamental to planning process and if it was a chemical plant being suggested they would be championed as heroes. It’s the process that we feel is causing the most injury to the town and we have a difficulty with that,” he added.

Colette Lally from Athenry joined the march for her children.

“I have small kids and I want them to be able to grow up and live in a community that is prospering. Right now the town is not doing so well. I’ve had emigration in my own family and there’s a whole generation of 30-year-olds who left the town for Australia and Canada. I hope my own kids have better options,” she said.

Richie Crawford took part in the march with his wife Eimear and two young sons Devon and Leo.

“We’re here because we’re concerned about the future of the town. We’ve lived here for 12 years and we  have two small kids, we want them to have opportunities,” he added.

IFA President Joe Healy also attended the event with his family.

“I’m living two miles from Athenry and this would be a great boost for not just the town but Galway and the West of Ireland. This would attract further investment and is a great stamp of approval for the area. People locally are very much behind it,” he said.

Planning permission for the development was granted by An Bord Pleanála last year. However, a judicial review of the project was sought on environmental grounds following appeals by two objectors.

A final decision on the data centre will be made on Thursday.

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