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Locals in this Wicklow town are getting together to stop a new McDonald's - again

McDonald’s says they’ll bring 60 jobs and €2 million with them.

McDonald's Source: ҉'vividlime ҉'

RESIDENTS IN THE Co Wicklow town of Greystones are campaigning to prevent a new McDonald’s restaurant being opened near a number of primary schools in the town.

The fast food chain is trying – again – to open a two-storey drive-thru at the Blacklion centre, close by Greystones Educate Together and Gaelscoil na gCloch Liatha primary schools, and Temple Carrig secondary school.

Wicklow County Council granted permission last year for a separate McDonald’s planning application for the site, but it was rejected by An Bórd Pleanala.

This time around the company has included a health and fitness studio in their plans, but a group of residents are adamant that the presence of a two-storey McD’s near three schools could be a disaster for the health of 1,800 local children.

In a formal letter to the council, objectors also claim that the McDonald’s restaurant would disrupt traffic, have a negative environmental impact, and lead to anti-social behaviour and litter.

Residents also point out that Department of Environment guidelines from 2013 encourage planning authorities to “promote active and healthier lifestyles.”

[Ensure that] exposure of children to the promotion of foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar is reduced, such as the careful consideration of the appropriateness and or location of fast food outlets in the vicinity of schools and parks.

New Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

The people of Greystones are far from unanimous on the subject of the new restaurant, however.

An online campaign in favour of allowing the new McDonald’s restaurant in Greystones has attracted significant support since it was started last Wednesday.

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As far back as 2011, then Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the government was considering measures to “regulate the proliferation of fast food restaurants”

In March, she announced the possibility of an “exclusion zone” for fast food outlets when it comes to planning applications near schools.

McDonald’s, for their part, told TheJournal.ie in a statement that they don’t target schools when picking locations for restaurants, but the new one in Greystones would bring 60-80 jobs to the town.

McDonald’s fully complies with local planning guidelines and the relevant local area plan, the purpose of which is to build its outlets in sustainable retail environments.
Proximity to local schools is not a deciding factor or part of the criteria for McDonald’s when it comes to assessing suitable locations for new restaurants.
Each new McDonald’s restaurant supports local jobs, with the recruitment of between 60 and 80 full time positions, combined with an investment in the local community of €2 million.

Read: Fast-food outlets could be banned near schools>

Poll: Should chippers and fast food restaurants be allowed near schools?>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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