Fresh from his topping out ceremony to mark the completion of the new €233 million Center Parcs Longford Forest holiday resort, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, formally opened the constituency office of Athlone based Senator, Gabrielle McFadden, on Friday afternoon last.
The constituency office, centrally located on Sean Costello Street, will be open each Monday and Friday to enable the Senator meet with the local electorate and discuss pertinent issues which they may have.
Senator McFadden, who serves as the Government Chief Whip within the Seanad, acknowledged the presence of An Taoiseach as his visit to Athlone culminated a busy working week schedule which had commenced with parliamentary business in Brussels.
"A busy week for An Taoiseach who has come here fresh from the topping out ceremony in Center Parcs, which, when opened at the end of the month, will be a major tourist attraction in the Midlands region and an a true asset to the Hidden Heartlands brand," Senator McFadden remarked.
It is hoped that the opening of Center Parcs will have a positive effect on the town of Athlone with visitors to the amenity taking time to explore the Midlands region during their stay.
"I am hopeful that visitors to Center Parcs will also take the opportunity to visit Athlone and the surrounding Midlands region and avail of what our Hidden Heartlands brand and Destination Athlone has to offer," the Senator continued.
The Fine Gael Senator spoke of her immense satisfaction to have a meeting presence in the centre of the town.
"As a member of the Oireachtas I feel that it is vital to have a formal presence in my home town where I can meet my constituents on an ongoing basis and I would like to take this opportunity to commend An Taoiseach for his support today," Senator McFadden concluded.
Addressing those in attendance, An Taoiseach referenced how multinational investments such as Center Parcs serve a dual purpose.
“The people who go to Center Parcs will also come here to Athlone, they will go to the distillery in Kilbeggan, they will journey to Granard to visit the Motte and we want to make sure that happens. That is why we are investing in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands," An Taoiseach commented.
An Taoiseach noted that Athlone has been designated as a major growth centre for the Midlands and that investments such as the Ballymahon amenity show that there are real opportunities outside the greater Dublin area.
“We want more and more big companies and multinationals to consider doing their big investments in rural Ireland, where there is good infrastructure, where staff are available and where the costs of doing business are actually lower," An Taoiseach emphasised.
He went on to praise Senator McFadden, in particular for constantly raising issues relating to Defence and for her role as Government Chief Whip in the Seanad.
“Gab has been very strong in reminding us of the need to support and respect our Defence Forces and I want to recognize that. She is a really effective and efficient Whip and I am very grateful to her for that," An Taoiseach added.
He concluded by referring to Athlone’s designation as a major growth centre in Project Ireland 2040.
“I talk about Ireland being the island in the centre of the world and Gab likes to tell me that this means that Athlone must be the town at the centre of the world," An Taoiseach commented.