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Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D., on the occasion of the official opening of the Left Bank Mall, Athlone, on Thursday, 18 December, 2008 at 10.30am


Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D., on the occasion of the official opening of the Left Bank Mall, Athlone, on Thursday, 18 December, 2008 at 10.30am

Dia dhaoibh, a dhaoine uaisle go léir;

Is mór an pleisiúr dom a bheith libh ar maidin chun oscailt oifigiúil Ionad an Taobh Thiar a cheiliúradh, is é seo cuid shuntasach eile den lár anamúil imeachtaí a mbíonn ar siúl ar an Taobh Thiar d'Átha Luain.

Tugann an réimse leathan imeachtaí a bhainimid lena gnólachtaí seo fuinneamh agus beocht nua don cheantar agus méadú fostaíochta freisin. Agus gan amhras, cuireann siad go mór leis an Taobh Thiar mar láthair siopadóireachta agus ghnó.


Damien and Deirdre Kelly
Distinguished guests

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here with you this morning to mark the official opening of the Left Bank Mall, the newest addition to a vibrant hub of activity in Athlone's West Side.

Before I begin this morning, I would like to pay tribute to the business acumen and enterprising spirit of the Kelly family. You have been involved in business in the Midlands area for some 30 years and the area has benefited greatly from your hard work and determination. In particular, the development of the very successful Roscommon Business Park has generated significant employment in Roscommon town. You can be very proud of what you have achieved for the Midlands.

Brothers Brendan and Tom started the business. Brendan's son, Damien, along with his wife Deirdre, are continuing the strong family tradition and are managing the Left Bank Mall which we are celebrating today. They are to be commended for their investment and for the economic boost that this development gives to Athlone. The town can now play the role envisaged for it in the National Spatial Strategy.

The Left Bank Mall is a major development, costing five million euro. It consists of 17 shops and over 100 car parking spaces and has been built as part of an overall mixed use development that includes 30 residential units.

The Mall includes restaurants, coffee shops, bridal and fashion shops, interior design, hairdressing, sports shop, photography, beauty and health care and a solicitor's office. This broad range of activities brings new life to the area and a welcome increase in employment. The Mall has significantly added to the critical mass and attractiveness of the West Side as a shopping and business destination.

This development has benefited from the Urban Renewal Scheme. It has seen the elimination of a major derelict site, covering an area of one and a half acres, and its replacement with quality shopping and modern residential properties. It is an excellent example of how Athlone has been regenerated under this Scheme in recent years.

Thriving businesses are hugely important to every community. I am delighted to see new developments continuing in Athlone, especially regeneration projects like this one. It is great to see there is still a real confidence about in the Athlone area. Athlone has benefited greatly from investment over the last number of years and will continue to do so. The Left Bank Mall demonstrates very clearly the potential Athlone has for business growth.

I know that people here today from the business community and other sectors will be very aware of the real economic challenges facing us at the current time. Later today, my cabinet colleagues and I will launch the Government's Framework for Economic Renewal. This Framework will outline a pathway forward which acknowledges the severe short-term economic challenge, while focusing on how we can return to sustainable growth in the medium-term.

It is the Government's intention to provide clear leadership on this matter. The path ahead is a difficult one and we must all play our part, in order to ensure that we can look forward to greater stability and a return to growth in the longer term.

In conclusion, can I wish each and every business in the Mall the very best in their new premises, with continuing success in 2009 and beyond.

Thank you very much for your attention.