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'Disgust' over threats against families after €850m Apple data centre plans abandoned

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Abandoned: An artist’s impression of Apple’s planned €850m data centre

Abandoned: An artist’s impression of Apple’s planned €850m data centre

Abandoned: An artist’s impression of Apple’s planned €850m data centre

A former supporter of the now aborted plan to build an €850m data centre in Athenry has spoken of his "disgust" after he and other politicians received sinister threats in the post following tech giant Apple's decision to abandon the project.

Former Sinn Féin councillor Gabriel Cronnelly - now an Independent representative on Galway County Council -said he and other councillors and local TDs received a disturbing letter in the post in recent weeks threatening their families if the Apple facility did not proceed by Christmas.

"I got one all right," he told the Irish Independent last night. "I was disgusted to tell you the truth.

"It's one thing to get a bit of stick but when your family is implicated."

Mr Cronnelly and fellow Galway county councillor Fianna Fáil's Shelly Herterich Quinn, as well as Galway East TDs Ciaran Cannon, of Fine Gael, and Independent Seán Canney also received the typewritten letters by mail.

The letters read: "This is a message to you. The people of Athenry have waited long enough for Apple. They might have endless patience but I don't.

"Get Apple here by Christmas, or things will happen to you, and your families. You might think that this is an idle threat but can you risk it?

"Remember. You don't know me when we might pass on the street, but I will know you, and I will find out who your families are. Anonymous."

Mr Cronnelly said he believes the letter writer may be mentally ill.

But given the spate of intimidating letters and other threats levelled at former employees and executives of Quinn Industrial Holdings - including the horrific torture of Quinn executive Kevin Lunney - he said such threats cannot be taken lightly.

However, he said he will not be bullied by anyone.

"I won't be intimidated or forced into lobbying under threat," he said.

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Apple has formally pulled the plug on its plan for a giant Athenry data facility, citing a three-year planning delay.

The decision to abandon plans for the €850m centre was greeted with devastation locally.

The politicians received the threats in the post around the middle of last month.

Gardaí confirmed they are taking a serious view of the threats, especially in light of the letters also menacing the families of the targeted politicians.

Ciaran Cannon, Minister of State for International Development, said the threats against a person's loved ones were "too despicable for words".

He added that anonymous letters were the "refuge of cowards".

In its statement announcing it was abandoning plans for the Galway site, Apple said: "Several years ago we applied to build a data centre at Athenry.

"Despite our best efforts, delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans and we will not be able to move forward with the data centre."

But Mr Cronnelly said he and others on the council worked hard to try to bring the centre to Athenry.

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