Athlone is the target of a major Chinese investment initiative, according to this Guardian report: you can read it here.

24 replies on “Beijing-on-Shannon”

Trust we won’t be throwing our foreign policy independence in for free with the land.

“Taoiseach Brian Cowen this week gave his blessing to the project, which promises to cut the entire region’s dole queue. Cowen said he had met Chinese promoters and businessmen to hammer out a deal, though there are few details.”

I suspect the conversation went something like this:

“I, for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted Irish Taoiseach I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.”

Lets not count the chickens before thy’re hatched.

Both parties may have an interest in hyping this project.

It may well be to increase the competition for rival overseas agencies.

There is a reason why IDA Ireland do not publish job realisations compared with initial announcements.

I have been googling to try to find hard information about this proposal. So far, I have gathered that some folk bought some fields and paid a lot for them. Those fields may be worth less than they were.

Separately (?), Westmeath County Council wants to designate part of the area as an “enterprise hub”.

Some folk from Athlone IT went to China.

FGS held a seminar in Athlone about doing business in (or with) China.

The IDA has no comment.

Note the wording in this Irish Times piece:

“The Irish Times understands a consortium of Chinese investors has been in talks with businessmen based in the midlands, including a local developer, solicitor and a restaurateur, for more than a year over the proposed project.”

Can I construe that to mean “a consortium that owns a field near Athlone has spent more than a year trying to interest Chinese investors in the field”? The IT’s “A in talks with B” suggests that the Chinese chaps are pushing this, but no evidence has been presented to support that contention.

I have not found the identities of the owners of the field or of any Chinese investors interested in establishing operations in Athlone. I have seen no evidence of any contract or anything else that might show that the “major Chinese investment scheme” is anything more than an aspiration — and one that might keep up the value of the land. So if anyone can point me to anything concrete, I would be grateful.


Well we go there (Messrs Barrett and Ronan’s Treasury China Trust, for example) so why shouldn’t they come here. And given their property market is nicely overheating perhaps their developers might be interested in some nice Irish real estate opportunities – apparently NAMA have been asked for €1.5bn to complete projects.

And since NAMA have valued the loans based on reality today and the long term economic value, presumably there’s as much (if not more) value for the Chinese versions of the McNamaras and Quinlans here than in overheating China, that is *if* NAMA have valued the long term economic value *accurately*.

Sorry to be slightly off topic – I know the hub story is about Chinese industrial investment but it’s all investment.

Perhaps Athlone could be turned into a charter city: Hong Kong-on-Shannon.

AMcGrath: I see you’re a Simpsons fan.

why, when we have thousands of construction workers lying idle, are they bringing in thousands of Chinese workers? Cost, one assumes….

@ Brian Lucey,

He who pays the Piper, calls the tune??

We will just have to wait and see what way the cards fall on this one. Time will tell.

I admit I have no knowledge on Chinese investment strategy / procedures etc. But if one were to glance at other Chinese investments in other nations then perhaps we might see how they operate. For example Page 12 on this pdf document makes interesting reading about Chinese investment in Angola.

There was a map showing the location of the site on one of the papers last weekend: it seems to be between Athlone and Clara. Could it possibly be in Biffo’s constituency? Why would the Chinese chose Offaly for God’s sake? Next thing there will be demands for an international airport.

What’s depressing is the way the journos are so uncritical of the whole thing. Have they learned anything from the opportunist behaviour of the political class?

@John Sheehan:
“What’s depressing is the way the journos are so uncritical of the whole thing.”

Not just uncritical but complicit. My impression is that the stories are based on “briefings” from some of those with an interest in the matter, but why are they not named? The journalists seem to me to be allowing their papers to be used.


Why are people taking this seriously? How’s that huge Las Vegas styled casino in Tipperary that Michael Lowry wanted coming along?

China usually has a strategic purpose behind its investments and last year Egypt was trying to get Chinese investment in an industrial part to take advantage of preferential access to the EU markets.

It’s hard to think of a Ireland being a strategic centre for China in Europe and why a location of a project away from port locations would be considered.

@ Michael Hennigan,

Maybe Chinese companies will use Ireland as a strategic gateway for access to the US? Who knows, but as you say they usually do have a strategic purpose behind the decisions. Time will tell.

The uncritical attitude adopted in almost all quarters towards China’s version of state capitalism I find perplexing, even downright disturbing. Many if not all the senior executives of Chinese conglomerates also wear CP hats. And let’s face facts. The country is by Western standards a tyranny, and a very corrupt one at that. It’s a bit like reading fiction. One has to suspend disbelief to accept the political narrative. In an authoritarian streaked state such as Ireland with a long history of protectionism, government interference in the market, and ample state spending on public services, perhaps, a partnership with China’s body politic seems natural.

Dont forget alchemist – the Taoiseach says he puts loyalty to de party first (ahead of the state). So its natural to make Clara a Special Economic Zone….

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