Senators Maura Hopkins and Gabrielle McFadden, Minister Simon Coveney, AIT student Eoghan O'Reilly from Bailieboro and Cllr. Tom Farrell.

Athlone should have city status and a university - McFadden

Senator Gabrielle McFadden has urged the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney TD to consider city status for Athlone and asked him to encourage the Minister for Education to consider Athlone Institute of Technology for university status.

She was speaking at a consultative meeting in AIT on the National Planning Framework ‘Ireland 2040 – Our Plan’.

The meeting is one of a series of consultations on the framework being held around the country by the minister.

“This plan aims to address the question ‘What will Ireland be like in 20 years time?’ and to draw up a plan now to deliver that vision”, said Senator McFadden.

“I believe strongly that part of that vision has to include city status for Athlone.

“Our population is increasing year on year and our key strategic location right in the middle of the country and straddling two provinces would make us the ideal location for development of a counterpoint to the current migration to the greater Dublin area.

“Furthermore, I believe that we should be planning now for AIT to become a university.

“Having university status would attract additional students, business and industry to the region.

“Again, our location could not be better and university status combined with City status would make a very positive statement about the future of the midlands.

“The essence of the Ireland 2040 framework is about making the correct decisions now rather than allowing development to happen on a haphazard basis,” said the Athlone-based senator.

“Proper spatial planning is what it is about and I can think of no aspiration more appropriate to this than city status and a university for Athlone.”