Monday 20 November 2017

Taoiseach confirms Apple boss refused to give 'a definite commitment' to build €850m data centre

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

Kevin Doyle in California

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed that Apple boss Tim Cook refused to give "a definite commitment" to build the Athenry data centre during their meeting.

As revealed by Independent.ie, a serious question mark now hangs over the €850m investment planned for the Galway town.

Mr Varadkar told Apple executives that local people had protested in favour of the project going ahead despite the planning objections that had been lodged.

And he promised Mr Cook that the Irish Government "will do anything within our power to facilitate" the development.

However, Mr Cook would only commit to considering Athenry as a location for investment in the future.

"We didn't get a start date or a definite commitment or anything like that. But certainly from our point of view we really impressed on them very strongly how much the Government is behind this project and we will do anything that is within our power to facilitate it," Mr Varadkar said.

Read more: Apple's €850m data centre in major doubt after meeting between Cook and Varadkar

Apple announced the West of Ireland investment in 2015 but the scheme has been plagued by planning difficulties ever since.

Earlier this week the High Court appeared to clear the way for the development to begin.

But the tech giant is extremely frustrated that its plans have been delayed by over two years.

Plans for a similar plant in Denmark were also announced in 2015 and that centre is almost ready for operation. Apple is now expected to develop a second data centre in Denmark.

Mr Varadkar is understood to have acknowledged that the planning delays that have affected the project to date were beyond Apple's control.

He outlined the changes that the Government is making to fast track these developments in the future, including specifically designating data centres as strategic infrastructure.

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