Leo Varadkar has failed to confirm Apple’s Irish data centre with Tim Cook

Apple's plans to build a data centre in Ireland are in doubt after chief executive Tim Cook would not make a firm commitment in a meeting with the Taoiseach.

Leo Varadkar visited Apple's headquarters while on a trade mission to San Francisco, noting on his Twitter that Apple employs more than 5,000 people in Ireland.

Had a constructive meeting with Tim Cook & senior Apple executives earlier at their HQ in Cupertino. Apple employs +5,000 people in Ireland

— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) November 3, 2017

But the Irish leader later told broadcaster RTE that Cook had stopped short of committing to the project to build a data centre in Athenry, County Galway.

While the delegation secured a promise that Apple would continue to consider the site in rural Western Ireland, there was no firm start date agreed.

Varadkar said he was behind the project and had told Cook that Dublin would do anything in its power to get the project started.

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The data centre was first discussed two years ago as part of a European expansion by Apple which established plans for the Irish site and one in Jutland, Denmark. Plans for the Danish site have run smoother than those in Ireland, with a finishing date now set for 2019.

Meanwhile the Irish project has met with various false starts and local opposition. Just this week, the High Court rejected attempts by two residents to pursue an appeal against use of the site, supposedly putting a stop to uncertainty over the data centre's location.

Varadkar acknowledge the role the delays had in slowing down Apple's plans, but said he was going to introduce changes to ensure big projects could get approved faster in future.

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