‘Boxer’ insists Athlone will gain regional capital status

A government minister has said he’s confident Athlone will be designated as a regional capital when the National Planning Framework is launched later this week.

Junior OPW Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said he and other local politicians, including his cabinet colleague Denis Naughten, have been working tirelessly in recent weeks and days to ensure its inclusion.

This comes after the first draft of the plan was widely criticised for focusing too much on the main cities, to the detriment of towns such as Athlone and rural communities.

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The plan will see an estimated investment of €115 billion in the country’s infrastructure, including roads, schools and hospitals, over the next ten years and influence planning policy for a quarter of a century.

Deputy Moran says he will be mystified if Athlone doesn’t feature as a regional capital when the plan is unveiled on Friday.