Monday’s meeting of Galway County Council meeting began on an extremely positive note with councillors clamouring to be associated with Apple’s announcement that it was constructing a new data centre in Athenry. Special mention was given to local area councillor Peter Feeney who was singled out by a number of representatives for doing trojan work to attract industry to the locality.
A clearly delighted Councillor Feeney said the €850 million investment is a major commitment to the west of Ireland. “We all look forward to an extremely fruitful relationship between Apple and Galway. This development is a sign that the country and the region is gearing up for the new phase. Great credit must go to the council planning department, the CEO and the IDA. The project is bang in the middle of the economic corridor between Galway and Athenry. There is excellent infrastructure in place, broadband, roads, water, etc, and this did not just happen by accident.”
Local Sinn Féin representative Gabriel Cronnelly said the development would have a hugely positive knock-on effect for the wider community. He said it was a great achievement to have attracted this type of business to Athenry and paid tribute to everybody involved in the process.
Fianna Fáil’s Malachy Noone described the early morning presentation by Apple as ‘mind-blowing’ and he outlined that he would like to see this development as the beginning of proper investment in Galway and the west of Ireland. Fellow Fianna Fáil member Martina Kinane said it was heartening to see that Apple would be creating facilities for schools and local businesses. Her comments followed an announcement by the company that it would be liaising with the local national school, Lisheenkyle, with a view to developing an ‘outside classroom’ for the benefit of local children.
Party colleague councillor Michael Connolly said forward planning from councillors relating to the County Development Plan had enabled this type of investment in industry. “Something like only 30 per cent of investment has been leaving Dublin, let’s hope this is a sign of further things to come.”
Ardrahan’s Michael Fahy got a huge cheer in the chamber when he paid a strong tribute to Councillor Peter Feeney for the work he had done to make Athenry an industry hub. Councillor Fahy also gave special mention to former county manager, the late Donal O’ Donoghue, for putting the wheels in motion to set up an economic corridor in the region. Councillor Pat Hynes echoed the sentiments in relation to Peter Feeney and called for industry investment in other towns around the county such as Portumna, Loughrea, Gort, and Kinvara.
Tuam councillor and well-known businessman Tom McHugh believed Galway had a bright future ahead regarding job creation. Turloughmore based Frank Kearney said it was very important that these jobs were being created outside of the city and he hoped there would be more rural jobs coming onstream in the future.
The last word was given to council CEO Kevin Kelly who said the announcement was a huge vote of confidence in Galway. Mr Kelly outlined his delight that the correct infrastructure was in place to bring a development of this magnitude to Athenry. “We hope in attracting a global leader such as Apple to Galway, others will follow and realise what is on offer here.”