Athlone Town Councillor Aengus O’Rourke has urged the Government to take an active role in ensuring that the proposed Europe China Trading Hub in Athlone becomes a reality. The Fianna Fáil Councillor, who has been a strong advocate for the project, has welcomed confirmation today that it has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála.
“I have been inundated with calls from people across Athlone and Co Westmeath who are genuinely delighted that An Bord Pleanála has approved this ambitious project,” said Cllr O’Rourke. “This development would be an enormous boost for Athlone and the entire Midlands region at a time when we really need it. It will mean thousands of jobs for this area both in the construction phase and after the trading hub is completed, and will help secure further foreign direct investment in the years to come.
“Great credit is due to the promoters Aidan Kelly and Michael O’Sullivan whose vision and energy has seen the project through a long and difficult planning process. I am hopeful that their investment, their ambition and their strong commitment to this development will pay off for Athlone in the long run.
“While the planning approval brings us one step closer, there is still a lot more work to do. The previous Government led the way on this project and it had reached an advanced stage two years ago. However in the last year the project lost momentum and the danger is that we have been passed out by a number of other European locations. It is now time for this Government to realise the enormous economic opportunity that this proposed development presents and to prioritise its construction. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste must immediately engage with the promoters and the Chinese investors to ensure that Athlone regains its earlier pole position.
“We have heard much rhetoric from this Government about job creation, but we have seen little or no impact on unemployment levels here in Athlone and across the Midlands. Now they must step up to the mark to secure the real jobs that the people of this area need.”