Rally for Apple’s data centre project to be held in Athenry

Fine Gael councillor Peter Feeney says march not intended to influence High Court

East Galway residents have been urged to rally this weekend in support of Apple's €850 million data centre project for Athenry.

The march organised by an "Athenry for Apple" group will take place in the town a day before the multinational seeks High Court approval to fast-track a judicial review over planning approval for the data centre.

Fine Gael councillor Peter Feeney said the timing of the march was "coincidental" and was "not intended to influence the court hearings".

A motion to have a legal challenge by three objectors to the plan entered on to the commercial list will be heard by the High Court on November 7th – the day before a listed hearing on the judicial review application.


Cllr Feeney said the vast majority of people in Athenry were in favour of the project, due to be built on Coillte-owned lands in the Derrydonnell area some three miles outside the town.

“We have waited patiently and quietly while the application went through planning, and we would have expected work to begin about now,”Cllr Feeney said.

“We didn’t want to start protesting or being divisive, but we feel we could have been faulted for not standing up in support of it.

"This is not a them and us situation, and a purely positive move to show Apple how we feel," he said. He said he was "aware" of some very negative comment on social media about the objectors, but had neither read nor condoned such comments.

Data centre

Cllr Feeney led the endorsements in February 2015 after Apple announced its intention to invest in the Athenry data centre. A briefing was held for local politicians and residents, but not for the media.

Cllr Feeney said he hoped a number of politicians would attend Sunday’s march after Mass from the railway station to the town centre, where there will be a number of speeches by business representatives.

The multinational announced a similar €850 million investment in Denmark, where construction is reportedly well under way.

A plan for up to eight data halls on a 500-acre wooded site attracted some 20 objections.

Neither Coillte nor the IDA would divulge details of the land transfer to Apple.

A subsequent appeal was turned down by An Bord Pleanála, which approved the project last August.

Local residents Sinéad Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly and Wicklow landowner Brian McDonagh have since applied to the High Court for a judicial review on environmental grounds.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times