Longford Center Parcs resort to employ 1,000 people

Broadband issues in area to be fixed when €200m tourist site opens in 2019, Taoiseach says

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD with Martin Dalby of Center Parcs (left) and Mark Foley of Coillte Enterprise at the site of the proposed Center Parcs resort near Ballymahon in Co Longford. .The Parc is expected to open to guests in 2019.Photograph: Julien Behal/Maxwells.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD with Martin Dalby of Center Parcs (left) and Mark Foley of Coillte Enterprise at the site of the proposed Center Parcs resort near Ballymahon in Co Longford. .The Parc is expected to open to guests in 2019.Photograph: Julien Behal/Maxwells.

 

Longford is set to become an international tourism destination even though it is currently a black spot for mobile phone coverage.

That is according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny who on Thursday morning visited the county for the announcement of a tourism development in Ballymahon by Center Parcs which it is claimed will employ 1,000 people.

Speaking as he arrived in Ballymahon, Mr Kenny vowed that problems with mobile data coverage in the area and across the midlands would be addressed.

He was responding after efforts to tweet pictures of him being heckled by Longford anti-water charge protesters were not successful.

While the issue brought a smile to the Taoiseach’s face when this was explained to him, he later departed from his prepared speech to address the problems of “broadband inadequacies” across the midlands.

He told politicians and tourism interests from the region that broadband connectivity in the midlands and elsewhere would be addressed by the time the proposed €200 million Center Parcs facility opens in 2019.

Mr Kenny said there was “tremendous competition in the market” and the National Broadband Scheme would improve coverage ensuring “all areas in the State” would be online over the next few years.

“Over the next number of years the entire country will get the capacity to deal with its broadband inadequacies,” he said.

Mr Kenny said a regional development plan for the midlands would be ready by July and the Center Parcs investment would be a cornerstone of that plan.

Center Parcs has agreed to buy 375 acres at Newcastle Wood near Ballymahon and plans to develop an international holiday village.

According to the company the development will provide 750 jobs during construction and 1,000 permanent jobs on completion.

Mr Kenny said “Center Parcs will provide a massive boost to the area and contribute significantly to the local and regional economy”.

Center Parcs is owned by asset management firm Blackstone. The company claims it has a 28 year proven track record of taking ecologically poor areas of woodland and transforming them into areas rich in biodiversity.

Martin Dalby, chief executive of Center Parcs, said: “We are thrilled and excited about the prospect of bringing the Center Parcs concept to families in Ireland.

“This new Center Parcs will have all of the ingredients that have made us so popular with families in the UK for the last 28 years and I am certain that Center Parcs will be a great success in Longford.”