The failure by the IDA to attract a blue-chip anchor tenant to the windswept and empty business park in Marlinstown Park in Mullingar was brought to the Government’s attention by local Labour Party TD, Willie Penrose, this week (December 3 ).
Speaking in the Dail on industry and employment matters, the Ballynacarrigy barrister expressed his disappointment “at the failure of IDA Ireland to attract a major, influential and core industry in the high-tech, healthcare or financial management areas to the excellently located and well-appointed IDA industrial park in Marlinstown in Mullingar.”
The 30Ha (70ac ) site, one third of which has planning permission, is just down from the Park Hotel roundabout on the new N52 bypass, and has been derelict since its opening three years ago.
The 10Ha that has planning permission has been infrastructurally developed to including roadways, groundworks, water, sewerage and telecom ducting.
Deputy Penrose lamented the waste of such a facility when one considered the potential in the county.
“We have excellent secondary schools in the area and Athlone Institute of Technology, one of the best institutes of technology in the country, with Professor Ó Catháin at its head, is only 25 miles away,” said Deputy Penrose.
“It is well-located beside the N4, the N52 to Mullingar, with the N6 only a few miles up the road. From a road infrastructural viewpoint, it is excellently serviced.”
He acknowledged the efforts of Mr. Barry O'Leary and Mr. Kevin McCarthy of the IDA, whom he believes “are trying to do their best” , but nonetheless felt it necessary to have conveyed his disappointment directly to the two representatives.
“We now have a good stock of housing, keenly and competitively priced, and a well-educated and ready-to-work workforce,” he said in the Dail yesterday.
“We have everything in place, yet we seem to have been bypassed in the attraction of significant industry.
“It is a source of great disappointment to the entire community in Mullingar, from the education sector to the chamber of commerce, the trade union sector and the local authorities.”
Westmeath County Council played a major role in ensuring that Marlinstown was prepared for the arrival of a big name tenant but unfortunately, the global downturn seem to have postponed such an arrival.
“The Council took all steps, and worked hand in glove with IDA Ireland, to accelerate its development and make it such an attractive place, and yet we have been bypassed,” lamented Deputy Penrose.
He called on the Minister of State Billy Kelleher, who is responsible for this area with IDA Ireland, to ensure that the agency focuses on Mullingar, an area he believes should be “entitled to its fair share of inward investment”.
“Its time has now come. We are in the whirlwind of an economic recession and we need foreign direct investment more than ever. Mullingar has waited and has been bypassed, and it will no longer accept being second-class in terms of not getting its fair share of IDA Ireland activity,” said the deputy.
The weapons included a sword, a machete, golf clubs, a shovel, a spade, an iron bar, and baseball bats.
All of the guilty will appear before the court again in the New Year, having been warned by Judge Anthony Kennedy that he would be “very interested” in their behaviour between now and then and would take that into consideration when imposing sentence.
The majority of the 66 people before the court belong to three families. On one side of the dispute were 30 members of the Nevin family and on the other 12 Dinnegans and 16 McDonaghs.
Anthony Dinnegan (37 ) of Macetown, Cloghan, Mullingar was the only person to face three charges. These included violent disorder, possession of a weapon with intent to injure and causing criminal damage to a Garda van.
Mr Dinnegan was described by Inspector Jarlath Folan at a previous sitting of the District Court as “a very influential member of one of the families involved in the feud”.
The first of the men to plead guilty to violent disorder was Christy “Ditsy” Nevin (54 ) of St Michael’s Park, Mullingar who was described by a senior garda at an earlier court sitting as a ringleader and instigator in the riot.
A further five defendants have had their cases adjourned for trial because, for various reasons, they entered no guilty plea.
Six men who had their application for legal aid deferred or refused at the District Court were granted assistance when Mr Peter Jones, State solicitor, offered no objection.
The youngest defendants are two teenage girls who pleaded guilty to violent disorder and possession of an iron bar and a golf club with the intention of causing injury. Community service reports were ordered by Judge Kennedy in both cases.
A 71-year-old man, Patrick McDonagh of 137 Dalton Park, who pleaded guilty in the District Court in October to public order offences relating to the riot, was then given the opportunity to avoid a three month prison sentence by making a charitable donation by April. He did not face a violent disorder charge and was the oldest person charged as a result of the incident.