JOHN Walsh of Bere Island has been elected chairman of the European Small Islands Federation (ESIN), at their annual meeting on Hven Island, Sweden.
Mr Walsh is well known for his work in community development in his job with Bere Island Projects Group and as a board member on the national island organisations, Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann and Comhar na Oileáin.
Delighted and honoured to accept the position, Mr Walsh said he is keen to help give islands a voice, both here in Ireland, at the European Commission, as well as relevant European agencies.
ESIN is the voice of 359,357 islanders on 1,640 small islands, helping them to increase sustainability into the future. To this end, ESIN acts at both local and European levels, informing relevant EU institutions, influencing EU policies and rules by increasing their awareness and understanding of small islands.
Ireland is a founder member of ESIN, and the group believes the small islands of Europe have the potential to capitalise on their unique natural and cultural assets and contribute to a more sustainable future for Europe.
‘Green Deal and climate action, sustainable energy, community-led tourism and the circular economy in particular can untap small islands’ potential to create local growth, achieve population retention and make a substantial contribution to the EU goals at the same time,’ the group said in a statement this week.
‘In order to achieve these important goals, we, the small islands of Europe, ask for the respective national legislation in our member states to better incorporate appropriate provisions to compensate for the severe and permanent natural and/or demographic handicaps that we face, as highlighted by Article 174 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU,’ it added.
The group is also asking its respective MEPs to support the formation of a renewed group in the EU parliament to ensure that their particular issues are understood and supported.