Almost 3,000 people turned out in Athenry on Sunday to support the ‘Apple for Athenry’ march, in support of the planned Apple data centre development near the town.
The High Court ruled on Monday that a legal challenge on the decision to grant permission for the €850 million development will be heard in the Commercial Court next March.
Athenry residents Sinead Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly initiated the case in the High Court last month. Their case is one of two challenges being brought over the proposed data centre. The second is by Wicklow landowner Brian McDonagh. A hearing on Mr McDonagh’s case will take place next week.
Local Fine Gael TD Ciaran Cannon said Sunday’s march was “necessary to do because a narrative was beginning to develop both nationally and internationally that Athenry as a community was opposed to the development, where the opposite is actually the case.
“It was wonderful to see such a large gathering of people of all ages and their message was loud and clear – Athenry is for Apple.”
He stated that the decision to hear the judicial review case in the Commercial Court was a “very positive development and that it guarantees that this process won’t drag on forever and must be concluded within six months.”
It’s estimated the proposed data centre will provide 300 jobs during construction and 150 thereafter.
“I am very hopeful at this point that the Apple project will still go ahead and that it will prompt further similar investments in Athenry and East Galway,” Deputy Cannon added.
Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne also said he is heartened by the decision of the Courts this week to hear the Apple case in the Commercial Courts.
The Deputy added that it was “regrettable” that the decision to grant permission was challenged “as the application has gone through the rigorous local and national planning process.”
Deputy Kyne said that the data centre is vital to attract investment to Galway and the West of Ireland.
“While the West of Ireland is ideally suited to data centres, in terms of climate and infrastructure, we must also remember that such investment attracts other investment and jobs which in turn raise the funds to pay for our public services.
“I am hopeful that the Commercial Court will uphold the decision to grant the application.”