Deputy Denis Naughten has asked the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, to convene and personally chair an emergency meeting of the Western Region Enterprise Committee following Aptar’s announcement that it will cease operations in Ballinasloe by the end of the year.
“It is deeply disappointing that the engagement between Government and the company, as well other options to save the Aptar operation, have failed to protect local jobs but it is now imperative that we look immediately at alternative sources of employment for the 115 workers,” Dep Naughten said.
“Last month I requested that the Tánaiste & Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment request that all State agencies, as well as the two Local Authorities in Galway and Roscommon, be brought together to implement a co-ordinated strategy for Ballinasloe. As a result, he has asked the Western Region Enterprise Committee to look at the local situation.”
The Western Region Enterprise Committee comprises all the local authorities in the region, as well as the enterprise agencies, Local Enterprise Offices, tourism bodies, third level colleges, education and training boards, and other business representatives.
“We now need an immediate emergency meeting of this committee directly chaired by the Tánaiste to drive investment into Ballinasloe,” Dep Naughten asserted.
“I have already pointed out to Minister Varadkar how it is hugely frustrating that Ballinasloe always seems to be just one positive decision away from unlocking its full potential. As a result, I believe what is now needed is a focused strategy for the town of Ballinasloe involving all the State bodies working with the management of Aptar, but also exploring the full potential of the St Brigid’s Hospital campus.
“We already have private investors looking at the old hospital complex itself based on the work I did with Ballinasloe Area Community Development Ltd on ‘Reimagining St Brigid’s’, but there is far greater potential on the campus with the rail, motorway, broadband, gas, industrial land, health and water infrastructure now available to the town.
“I doubt there is a town in Ireland with infrastructure on a par with Ballinasloe and we must now see a very focused employment plan for the town from the Western Region Enterprise Committee driven by the direct intervention of the Tánaiste.
“The town also has huge potential to become the recreational tourism crossroads of Ireland with the north-south Beara Breffni way walking route, which secured additional Government funding this week, and the proposed Dublin-Galway greenway intersecting in Ballinasloe,” Deputy Naughten concluded.