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Plans for first Center Parcs holiday resort in Ireland

Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent v.robinson@irishnews.com

IRELAND is set for its first Center Parcs holiday village.

The UK leisure giant is seeking to construct its sixth resort at Newcastle forest in Forgney, close to Ballymahon in Co Longford.

The resort will be the single biggest-ever private investment in Ireland's tourist industry, with the company leasing hundreds of acres of mature and semi-mature forestry.

Center Parcs wants to construct more than 200 lodges and villas, with a swimming pool complex, spas, restaurants and bars near the River Inny.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to be present today when an official announcement, outlining the company's complete plans for the picturesque area, is made.

However, it is already known that Center Parcs expects to create around 600 jobs during the construction phase of the project, with hundreds more people to be employed on a full-time and part-time basis once the facility is opened.

Center Parcs management has been involved in ongoing discussions with Longford County Council and the state-owned body Coillte in recent months in a bid to get the ambitious project off the ground.

Chairman of Longford County Council, Mark Casey, last night said the resort would attract people from all over Ireland, Britain and Europe to the county.

The Republic's jobs minister, Richard Bruton, said he had had discussions with the firm, describing the project as "very exciting".

The firm has wanted a base in Ireland for some time, with its chief executive, Martin Dalby, last year saying: "We see Ireland as the next obvious place to take Center Parcs and to that extent we have had initial discussions with Irish government and tourist board about a site."

Center Parcs opened its first UK holiday village in 1987 on 400 acres of land in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. It now operates resorts in other parts of the UK as well as Belgium, France, Denmark and Germany.

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