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Irish government seek assurances over Apple's commitment to Athenry datacentre

The Prime Minister for the Republic of Ireland is to meet with Apple chiefs to discuss its ongoing commitment to building its much-delayed datacentre in Athenry, County Galway

The Prime Minister for the Republic of Ireland plans to discuss Apple’s ongoing commitment to building a datacentre in Athenry, County Galway, with the company’s senior leaders today.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in the midst of a trade mission across the west coast of the US, and is on course to discuss the possibility of Apple expanding its operations in Ireland overall with the firm today. 

As part of this discussion, Varadkar has vowed to address the company’s ongoing commitment to building its €850m datacentre in Athenry, in the wake of the lengthy legal delays the project has encountered since it was first announced in February 2015.

“It’s a project the government is 100% behind. It’s potentially the biggest investment in the west of Ireland, worth about €850 million, so the biggest investment since the Gort-Tuam motorway. It’s evidence of things happening in the west of Ireland and I’ll be keen to speak to Apple about their commitment to that project,” he said.

During a previous meeting, Varadkar said the company was committed to pushing ahead with the project, subject to legal challenges, which have now been largely resolved.

As reported by Computer Weekly on 1 November 2017, the Irish High Court made public its decision yesterday to deny two long-standing objectors to the project another chance to appeal against it proceeding.  

“There is still a possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court, so I imagine that may be an issue for them, but I’d probably be better placed to comment on that after I’ve met them,” he said. “But you can be certain it’s something that is going to be discussed. It’s on the agenda and the government is very keen to see that go ahead.”

Read more about Irish datacentre builds

In the wake of the latest High Court ruling in the case, Apple declined Computer Weekly’s request to comment on what this meant for its construction plans.

Apple’s reluctance to comment has been interpreted by some as a sign the company might be losing interest in the project, with the Irish Times claiming the firm further declined to say whether the company’s 2015 commitment to building the project still stands.

As some of the project’s supporters, commenting in the Athenry for Apple Facebook group, have pointed out, there is still a chance a further appeal against the project could be lodged with the Irish Supreme Court.

Therefore, the company could be waiting on the outcome of that before making any public declarations about the future of the build.

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