Thousands attend rally in support of Apple data centre in Athenry

The American tech giant has been granted planning permission however legal challenges have thrown the development in doubt

Thousands of people have attended a gathering in Galway in support of Apple’s plans to build a data centre near Athenry.

The American tech giant was granted planning permission for the project in August, but the development has been delayed due to legal challenges.

Apple said 300 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the data centre with 150 people employed there once operational.

The 24,500 square metre facility is to be built on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell in Athenry and will cater to the company’s European customer base for Apple Music, the App Store, Messages, Maps and Siri.

Artist's impression of the new data centre. Image: IDA Ireland

Last month, two applications seeking a Judicial Review of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to give the €850m facility the go-ahead were granted in the High Court.

A third person - who it is understood lives in the east of the country - is also seeking a Judicial Review.

The case will be back in court tomorrow when it is believed Apple will ask for the challenge to be fast-tracked.

Today’s solidarity march was led by the newly formed 'Athenry for Apple' group and got underway at the town square at 11:30am.

Gardaí estimate over 2000 people joined the march - which was also attended by a smaller group protesting against the development.

A spokesperson for the protest group said the number of jobs set to be created does not justify the amount of energy the planned facility would use.

Despite the potential for lengthy delays now facing the development, speakers at the rally urged Apple to stay committed to Athenry.

These locals told Galway Bay FM the company’s planned investment is just what the town needs after a difficult number of years: