€200m Center Parcs resort to make Longford leading destination – Kenny
Taoiseach promises problems with mobile phone coverage will be addressed
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby at Newcastle Woods, Ballymahon, Co Longford. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
Longford is set to become an international tourism destination even though it is currently a black spot for mobile phone coverage, according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Mr Kenny was visiting the county for the announcement of a tourism development in Ballymahon by Center Parcs, which it is claimed will employ 1,000.
He said 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 explained to him, he later departed from his prepared speech to address the problems of “broadband inadequacies”.
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 opened in 2019. Mr Kenny said there was “tremendous competition in the market” and the National Broadband Scheme would improve coverage, ensuring that “all areas in the State” would be online over the next few years.
Center Parcs is set to buy 375 acres at Newcastle Wood from Coillte. In addition to a target of 1,000 permanent jobs, the project would create 750 jobs during construction, the developers said.
Mr Kenny said the holiday village would “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 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.”
The developers are preparing a planning application.