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Anger as Apple pulls plug on Athenry project

Thu 10 May 2018

Galway residents have lashed out at the Irish government after Apple finally decided to call an end to its Athenry data centre project.

The California tech giant first announced that it would be building a large data centre in the Irish town of Athenry, in Galway, in 2015.

Since then it has faced setback after setback, with a small number of local residents objecting to the project on environmental grounds. Many other locals were in support of the data centre, given the jobs and investment it would bring to the area, but as it made its way through the Irish court system and encountered numerous delays, questions arose about the government’s role in encouraging foreign investment.

The Athenry for Apple Facebook group, which supported the scheme, bore witness to many angry residents today. The leader of the campaign group, Paul Keane, described the decision as a “blow to the country, not just here.”

On a post on the Facebook group, Galway resident Enda McInerney said: ‘Typical bureaucracy, spitting in the face of progress, Galway should have been all over that opportunity.’ Several group members described the decision as a ‘disgrace,’ while others called for the resignation of politicians involved. Group member Tom Burke said: ‘This is a national disgrace.’

Few, if any, residents appear to be blaming Apple, instead pointing the finger towards the government. Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, said in a statement to the Irish Times: “The Government, together with IDA Ireland, did everything it could to support this investment.

“Ultimately, in spite of these efforts, Apple has taken a commercial decision not to proceed, making it clear that the delays that beset this project caused them to reconsider their plans. These delays have, if nothing else, underlined our need to make the State’s planning and legal processes more efficient.

“The Government has therefore already been working, over the last number of months, to make improvements to those processes. This will ensure we are better placed to take advantage of future such investment opportunities, whether from data centre providers or other sectors.”

Apple has said that despite this decision, it will still maintain a presence in Ireland and continue investment in the country, where it has operated since 1980. In a statement, the company said: “Despite our best efforts, delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans and we will not be able to move forward with the data centre. While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow.”


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