Kieran Walsh

The Munster Express attended a recent 3-day plenary session in Strasbourg, where most MEPS appeared in person and some from their home capitals.

Deirdre Clune spoke to The Munster Express. She voiced support for the runway expansion at Waterford and is well aware of the situation from her time as a transport spokesperson.

She supports investment in the airport and believes the investment of the 3 million privately will be found. This will match a similar amount from government and local authorities. She said it is good that the South-East counties are working together on it and noted the success of the Rescue 117 campaign.

Waterford Airport

A strong group comprising local business, industry, the tourism sector and others should be able to raise the funds.  Waterford Chamber will also have a role to play on the matter.

In terms of interim loan financing as an option if the 3 million target is not reached, it might be not so easy as there is not a government guarantee but the willingness of government to put up money is a vote of confidence in the project, which should not be delayed.

She looks forward to it going ahead and was also positive about expansion at South-East ports like Waterford and more routes from Rosslare for freight and now this summer for tourism cars and passengers. Family holidays on ferries are coming back for convenience and safety post Covid.

The trend to drive abroad is increasing to UK and France this summer after many fallow years and restrictions. Tourism in the sunny South-East will also do well. The more transport links the better.

She supports new tourism initiatives like greenway and heritage tourism. Wexford is growing too with its greenway.

She sees growth in activity holidays as a positive outcome in recent years for health and wellbeing. Cycling and walking holidays also growing in Ireland and elsewhere. Ireland can benefit at home and away.

She likes the idea of linking up more with Wales in heritage tourism and also Normandy where there are also old Irish connections from the time of the Norman invasions and the French connections have improved with ferry additions.

Deirdre Clune MEP

She also believes in linking like-minded people and exchanging interests in activities. Farmers and green funding is a new agenda where farmers will get a payment for being custodians of the land.

Farm product payments may be less but for having good green practices like biodiversity there will be other payments. For instance wilding or eco schemes. She believes this can be positive for Ireland.

Science will play a role too in this in terms of outputs and inputs with carbon measurements.

This is an evolving situation with payments linked to the environment and Ireland must work with these changes.

On Northern Ireland, there are no delays in the farming sector and that is working well with animal exports.  Medicines is also a priority area and more will be done.

The Irish MEPs have little role to play in the current Brexit process. That is  down to Liz Truss, UK Foreign Secretary and Maros Sefcovic of the EU.