The Government has confirmed a commitment secured by local TD, Denis Naughten, that a new law will be introduced to ensure co-operation across the River Shannon on the development of Athlone as the key economic driver of the Heartlands Region, incorporating counties Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath and East Galway.
“The objective of this new law is to ensure that a formal structure is put in place for the orderly development of the town of Athlone, both sides of the River Shannon, into a city as envisaged in the Project Ireland 2040 plan published by Government early last year.
“This will build on the recent law for which I secured approval in Government, passed by Dáil Éireann, which sets in stone the boundary of Roscommon, ensuring that Monksland firmly remains part of that county.
“While the law sets out that the county boundary of Roscommon cannot be changed, it is also important that both Westmeath and Roscommon work closely together to ensure Athlone is developed in a structured manner, not only to benefit the local community, but to build up the other towns across the middle of the country in the Heartland of Ireland,” Deputy Naughten noted.
Deputy Naughten referenced proposals for a new local authority law pertaining to cross boundary co-operation to be brought forward by Government.
“In the Dáil this week the Minister for Local Government, John Paul Phelan TD, confirmed that Government is now bringing forward proposals for a new law on local authority cross boundary cooperation.
“In the case of Athlone, the new urban area committee will be made up of councillors from the Athlone Municipal Districts of Westmeath and Roscommon County Councils, as well as the Cathaoirleach of both local authorities.
“I believe that this new urban area committee for Athlone will be a key driver of investment locally, and will allow for experts in the areas of planning, transport, infrastructure, housing and/or business to also have a role in how Athlone develops over the next twenty years,” Deputy Naughten concluded.