Martin Heydon TD for Kildare South, and Chairman of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, has said that he is extremely disappointed that the application for funding under the REDF for a new Food and Drinks hub in Athy was not successful this time.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this project is badly needed and that we have an extremely strong case to make. In my role as a Government TD, I highlighted the application by bringing the Minister for Jobs to Athy and subsequently raising the application on the floor of the Dáil

“While the Minister doesn’t decide on the specific allocations, by bringing her to Athy and raising it with her in the Dáil I was affording her the opportunity to put on the record her support for the project which Enterprise Ireland and her own Department officials would be aware of. She is equally disappointed that our application wasn’t successful this time

“The applications are assessed under an independent adjudication system carried out by Enterprise Ireland which is transparent for all projects. Unfortunately the Athy Food Hub failed to score high enough. I have spoken to senior officials in Enterprise Ireland, discussed the scoring system and expressed my disappointment with their decision.

“Kildare County Council & Kildare Local Enterprise Office as applicants, are entitled to a briefing and full feedback on where the application didn’t score well.

“Other successful enterprise projects like the Boyne Valley Food Hub in Meath were unsuccessful on their first application to REDF in 2017 but received funding in 2018 of €1.4m with an adapted application having considered reasons for failure. Last year Wicklow Content Creation Hub failed to secure funding but was awarded €1.5m this year.

“I am determined that this project will go ahead and be delivered in Athy. I will work with Kildare County Council to ensure that the Park VIII planning process goes ahead as planned and we will look at reapplying to REDF as well as the rural regeneration fund as other funding options in the coming months.

“I am confident that we will overcome this set back and secure the necessary state funding for this project to go with the allocation from Coca Cola and the previous financial commitment from KCC.

“By working in a similar way we have secured funding for a number of projects in Athy which emphasises this Governments commitment to Athy:

· €35m Southern Distributor Route that is at tender stage and will commence construction this year;

· Primary Care Centre almost completed construction;

· €5m towards the Barrow Blueway which will drive tourism and increased business to Athy;

· €2.7m rural regeneration funding for the upgrade of Athy Heritage Centre museum and upgrade of Emily Square;

· €4m development of our award winning library in the old Dominican church;

· Securing a Family Resource Centre for the town at Athy Community & Family Resource Centre;

· Multi million euro extensions to Ard Scoil Tríonóide & Athy Community College;

· Sports capital grants for Athy’s sporting clubs including the GAA, rugby, tennis, rowing & canoeing, dragon boat clubs.

That commitment continues as I pledge to support this Food and Drink Hub to deliver on its potential for significant job creation in Athy and the greater Kildare South region.