Apple stops short of committing to Athenry project

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Apple has stopped short of committing to proceed with plans for a data centre in Athenry, Co Galway despite a meeting between the company’s boss Tim Cook and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

In a statement, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the discussions in the company’s HQ in California had been very constructive.

The statement said Apple had agreed to continue to consider Athenry in the context of their future business plans.

However, Mr Varadkar told RTÉ News that the Athenry data centre project has not been confirmed by Apple.

Speaking in San Francisco, the Taoiseach said while he did not get a start date or a definite commitment to the project, he told Apple’s CEO yesterday that the Government is behind the project and will do anything within its power to facilitate it.

Mr Varadkar’s meeting with Tim Cook took place yesterday afternoon as part of his trade mission to the west coast of the United States.

Speaking to RTÉ News this evening, Mr Varadkar said he told Mr Cook the project had enormous support in the area.

When asked whether it was confirmed by Apple that the project would go ahead he said: “No not confirmed. We didn’t get a start date, or a definite commitment or anything like that.

“But certainly from our point of view, we really impressed on them very strongly how much the Government is behind the project, how we will do anything within our power to facilitate it and how the people of Galway and Athenry in particular really want it to happen.”

In his statement, the Taoiseach acknowledged that the planning delays which have affected the project to date were beyond Apple’s control.

He outlined the changes that the Government is making to fast track these developments in the future, including specifically designating data centres as strategic infrastructure.

Technically the way is clear for Apple for proceed with the project, however, objectors still have the option of asking the Supreme Court to hear an appeal which would delay the project  further.

Michael Fitzmaurice, Independent TD for Galway said “In light of the decision not to allow the appeal into the decision to grant Apple planning permission for their data centre in Athenry I hope that the company goes ahead with the development.”

He added: “This case once again demonstrates the need for forward planning to be made by the Government with regard to these major developments into the future”

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