High hopes for airfield development

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Plans to develop

Plans to develop

Abbeyshrule Airfield are back on the table after it emerged at last week’s Co Council meeting that “private discussions” are taking place.

Plans to turn the local airfield into a regional airport were first mooted about eight years ago, however in recent times, the project appeared to have been shelved.

Last week, the Leader learned that representatives of Longford Co Council have been holding private talks with the owners of the airfield, and that those talks have centred around the extension of the existing runway.

The matter emerged after angry sentiments were expressed by public representatives over the lack of IDA investment in Co Longford over the last few years. “There is a recycling plant on the Athlone Road for the last two years, ready to operate and offering 40 jobs and there isn’t an ounce of support for the enterprise,” Cllr Martin Mulleady (FF) said.

“Neither IDA or Enterprise Ireland have offered any help to get that business of the ground and it is an absolute disgrace to see it lying there. We need to get more investment into this county, it is as simple as that.”

“One of the biggest missed opportunities in this county was that we did not ensure that we got a regional airport based out in Abbeyshrule in the first place,” fumed Cllr Frank Kilbride (FG).

“A golden opportunity that we once had, gone now.”

Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG) then added, “in the interest of job creation, it is imperative that this council engage with the owners of that airfield”.

“Abbeyshrule is a community that is prepared to step up to the plate and get this county back on its feet; and a regional airport here would change the whole dynamics of this county.”

Cllr Denis Glennon (FF) then pointed to the fact that Longford was “an easy target” and the time had come to “do it for ourselves”.

“When you even compare Longford to Cavan town - you can see the difference in the economic investment in the towns; Cavan is a wonderful town compared to Longford town, and it is just so sad to see this.”

Director of Services, Frank Sheridan then pointed to the discussions that were taking place in respect of the airfield and admitted that “activity needs to be increased in Longford”.

“The people that sell Longford best are the companies that are doing business here,” he said, adding that a strategy needed to be developed.

“We need a plan of action to stimulate more economic growth; I believe that we can achieve this.”