Athlone is “the ideal town” for expansion to city status under new plans by the Government to develop regional cities, according to Longford-Westmeath Independent Deputy, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran.
Deputy Moran was responding to proposals from Minster for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney, whereby a handful of regional cities are to be earmarked for future economic and social growth.
The ‘national planning framework’ includes a potential new city in the Midlands and Deputy Moran believes that Athlone fits the bill perfectly.
“I have always maintained that Athlone is a key regional centre, and that once identified for greater population growth it will give a significant economic boost to neighbouring counties such as Roscommon, Longford, and Offaly. More importantly, the adjoining towns such as Moate and Mullingar will also be given a major boost, together will all the villages in between,” said Deputy Moran.
“Developing Athlone into a major city makes perfect sense as the town has huge potential in terms of existing infrastructure and having the capacity to cater for future expansion. Athlone boasts so many key educational and industrial indicators, including Athlone IT and the clustering of key medical device firms here. Athlone is also in close proximity to Dublin Airport, being adjacent to the motorway, which is another major plus.”
Deputy Moran added that he “wholeheartedly” agrees with Minister Coveney regarding the need to develop regional cities as a means to balance economic and social growth across the country.
“Minister Coveney already knows my strong feelings on Athlone being designated as a regional city so that the region can develop with increased population growth, more jobs, and increase investment in transport links,” he said.
“There is no reason why Athlone cannot reach the same potential as Cork, Waterford, Limerick, or Galway, the other cities being earmarked for regional city status.
“Everyone knows that a continued expansion of Dublin is not good for the country and that the State, as a whole, must promote balance and economic growth outside of the capital.”
Deputy Moran is urging civic groups and organisations to have their say in Minister Coveney’s plans, which are to go for public consultation.