2,000 march in support of Apple’s Irish data centre
Mon 7 Nov 2016
Over 2,000 locals from the small Irish town of Athenry, Galway joined a march in support of the proposed €850 million Apple data centre.
Responsible for managing data from Apple services such as the App Store, Apple Music, Messages, Maps and Siri, the new 24,500 sq.ft. facility is seen by residents as a major economic win for the area, representing the largest ever digital investment in the region.
Despite planning permission having been granted earlier this year, a new legal challenge is threatening to delay proceedings by up to 18 months. The case, led by three objectors, has raised concerns around flooding and endangering wildlife, among other environmental drawbacks. Apple has since applied to fast-track the judicial review, with a decision expected on the 8th November.
According to Junior Minister Sean Kyne, the loss of the Apple investment would make Ireland a ‘laughing stock‘ and would hamper further interest from international tech firms in the location.
Ireland is considered an important destination in the data centre sector, for its position between the U.S. and Europe and the $300 million fibre optic connection to New York in County Mayo.
Along with many other west coast towns, Athenry was hit particularly hard by the financial crisis and saw the collapse of local business and an exodus of young talent. The interest from Apple thus marks a vital turning point for the community – ‘a beacon of light for rural Ireland,’ said OPW Minister of State, Sean Canney.
A Facebook event for the march read: ‘We want to show Apple, and the whole world, that the vast majority of Athenry people support wholeheartedly Apple’s desire to open a data centre near our town… This is a marvellous opportunity for Athenry and the West Of Ireland. Please do not let this opportunity slip through our fingers.’
Apple first announced its Athenry proposal in February last year, at which point it also spoke of plans to invest in a similar data centre project in Denmark. Construction has already begun on the Danish facility, while the Irish proposal remains on hold.