Representatives of the local fishing industry took the chance to outline key issues with Maria Walsh during her visit to Donegal last week.
Brexit and EU policy were top of the agenda as the MEP visited Killybegs and Arranmore Island.
Walsh, who sits on the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament, met with the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation to hear their perspective on Brexit and the current state of the industry.
MEP Walsh said this was an important meeting as it allowed her to “see the real and tangible impact of European Fishing policy on the livelihoods of men and women working in the industry here.”
She continued: “I got to see two different classes of fishing boat, the Western Endeavour and the Rachel D first hand, as well as touring the very impressive Killybegs Seafoods Processing Facility.
“I visited the new gourmet sea food shop, Atlantic Treasures Fish Stop, right in the middle of Killybegs. It was interesting to listen to the proprietor, Michael O’Donnell, on how fishing has benefited the community.
“It was striking to see the difference in scale of the different companies working out of Killybegs first hand.”
MEP Walsh also travelled over to Arranmore Island to hear a different set of concerns.
She said: “One thing we cannot underestimate is the tenacity of islanders. I was very impressed with the digital workspace, MODAM, part of the Grow Remote initiative. Here they have high-speed broadband, provided by Three, which has attracted the interest of people interested in remote working from around the world.
“It is essential that we protect the heritage of our islands and strive to make them viable and liveable. As society moves towards digitisation, it was fascinating to hear how modern concepts like the Internet of Things can impact islanders lives in a positive way.”
MEP Walsh continued: “Coming from a rural part of Mayo I understand the impact that rural depopulation has on both community’s way of life, and it was important for me to hear the challenges relating to the fishing industry on the island.
“While I have previously met with representatives of Irish Fishing in Brussels, visiting Donegal this week was very important for me to contextualise the impact policy has on peoples livelihoods. We cannot underestimate the potential impact that the trade talks with the UK could have on the way of life here.
“As the MEP for Midlands Northwest, I will do my best to ensure the concerns of our communities are listened to at national and European level.”