The development of the Pairc na Mara Marine Innovation Centre in Connemara is “vitally important” for the future of Cill Chiaráin and the surrounding area of Connemara said one local candidate.
Kevin O’Hara, Sinn Féin candidate for South Connemara, said that the decision by An Bord Pleanála to overturn planning permission for the Marine Innovation Park was worrying.
The higher planning authority overturned the county council’s decision to grant planning permission to Údarás na Gaeltachta for an administration building at the site.
An appeal against the county council’s decision was brought by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, who were concerned that it would be developed into a large scale salmon farming facility.
“Targeted and planned long-term development is crucial for the survival of isolated communities throughout Ireland, and the Páirc na Mara project in Cill Ciaran has the potential to provide important long-term employment in the area,” Kevin O’Hara said.
He added that the shellfish industry in Cill Chiaráin Bay has been revitalised in recent years, and there is also a nearby Marine research station at Carna run by NUIG, and a thriving seaweed industry in the area.
Mr O’Hara went on to say that “Páirc na Mara may well not provide all the answers but its development is vitally important for Cill Ciaran and its broader hinterland.”
He warned that the Connemara Gaeltacht is in a “struggle for survival” and that if investment projects like Pairc na Mara fail it will continue to erode “until all that is left is a commuter belt servicing Galway City”.