Local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has welcomed a high level meeting between the Tánaiste and the enterprise agencies regarding Ballinasloe but acknowledged it must now be followed through with “a determined effort by all agencies, especially the IDA, to promote the town of Ballinasloe and all it has to offer”.
The meeting by the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar with the West Regional Enterprise Plan steering committee follows a number of direct requests to do so by Deputy Naughten and has been held in advance of the matter coming up for discussion again in Dáil Éireann.
“While this engagement by the Tánaiste is very welcome, it should have happened five months ago when the Aptar announcement was first made and I should not have had to take this matter to the floor of Dáil Éireann before the meeting finally took place.
“Such a meeting is normally standard practice following significant job losses and, as I pointed out to the Tánaiste last month, the Aptar closure in Ballinasloe with the loss of 115 jobs is the equivalent of 1,380 jobs going overnight in the city of Galway. In that situation such a meeting would have taken place immediately,” Deputy Naughten stated.
“I had intended to do something like that at the time, but we ran into other difficulties around Covid-19. I am happy to commit to pulling together the agencies and having a particular focus on Ballinasloe over the next couple of weeks. That was in the work plan anyway, but I appreciate the reminder and I will follow up on it. I do not know if it will produce any results, but it is definitely worth a try. We are determined to ensure we find a replacement employer and secure a significant investment in Ballinasloe as soon as possible, if not in the next couple of years,” An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, commented.
“I accept the Tánaiste has a lot to deal with in Government and appreciate he has followed through on the commitment he gave to me last month and I welcome the briefing on the meeting that he has provided with regard to the under utilised lands at St. Brigid’s in Ballinasloe.
“I now hope following his comments that the IDA will secure and develop the 50 acres of land in question, and also construct an advance factory to capitalise on the demand for such lands and facilities across the midland towns.
“I also hope that we now see a co-ordinated marketing strategy for a unique IDA site with such a large State-owned land holding that has access to gas, water, wastewater and fibre in abundance,” Deputy Naughten concluded.