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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 548-571
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Applications
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Applications
 Header Item Bus Services
 Header Item Haulage Industry Regulation
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme
 Header Item Taxi Licences
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Fáilte Ireland
 Header Item Driver Test Data
 Header Item Ministerial Functions
 Header Item Rail Services
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Electric Vehicles
 Header Item Vehicle Registration
 Header Item Electric Vehicles
 Header Item National Car Test Fees
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Rail Services
 Header Item Airlines Regulations
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item Road Traffic Legislation
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Road Projects Expenditure

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 548-571

Sports Capital Programme Applications

 548. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of an application by a club (details supplied) for a sports capital grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42656/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on 24 February, and I can confirm that a relevant application has been submitted. By the closing date, a record number of 2,320 applications seeking €155 million in grants were received.  Accordingly, the allocation of grants will be particularly challenging.

All of the 2,320 applications received are currently being assessed by officials in my Department.  I expect to be in a position to make an announcement regarding allocations in the coming weeks..

Sports Capital Programme Applications

 549. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of an application by a club (details supplied) for a sports capital grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42657/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on 24 February, and I can confirm that a relevant application has been submitted.  By the closing date, a record number of 2,320 applications seeking €155 million in grants were received. Accordingly, the allocation of grants will be particularly challenging.

All of the 2,320 applications received are currently being assessed by officials in my Department.  I expect to be in a position to make an announcement regarding allocations in the coming weeks. .

Bus Services

 550. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will review the destination points of the 109 Bus Éireann route; if he will address a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42667/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority, NTA, and I have forwarded the Deputy's questions to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if a response is not received within ten working days..

Haulage Industry Regulation

 551. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the position regarding the proposed introduction of a maximum regulatory weight laden limit for non-articulated rigid trucks with five or more axles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42670/17]

: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Due to the need to comply with European legislative requirements, the introduction of a national weight limit for five (or more) axle rigid trucks is being deferred. The revised implementation date has now been set as January 1, 2018..

Sports Capital Programme

 552. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when grant aid under the sports capital grant programme 2017 will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42671/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on 24 February. By the closing date, a record number of 2,320 applications seeking €155 million in grants were received. The level of demand means that the allocation of grants will be particularly challenging.

All of the 2,320 applications received are currently being assessed by officials in my Department.  I expect to be in a position to make an announcement regarding allocations in the coming weeks. .

Taxi Licences

 553. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when a decision will be made in respect of a taxi licence application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42674/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The regulation of the small public service vehicle, SPSV, industry, including the issuing of taxi licences, is a matter for the National Transport Authority, NTA, under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

  I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to the Deputy. Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a response within ten working days.

Road Projects Status

 554. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when the feasibility study commissioned under the capital review plan for the N72 Mallow relief road will be published; and if his Department has engaged with Cork County Council to this effect.  [42700/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and operation of individual road projects is a matter for the Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a reply within ten working days..

Fáilte Ireland

 555. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the nature of Fáilte Ireland's occupancy, if as a tenant or in ownership, at a location (details supplied); the proposed relocation plans post-sale; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42706/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for the board and management of Fáilte Ireland. Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to the agency for direct reply.  Please contact my private office if the Deputy does not receive a reply within ten working days..

Driver Test Data

 556. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the percentage of driving test fails annually in each of the years from 2010 to 2016, nationally and in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42750/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within ten working days..

Ministerial Functions

 557. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the powers he has delegated to the Ministers of State in his Department; the dates on which such delegation was made; if there were changes in powers delegated relative to the position prior to 14 June 2017; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42788/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I refer the Deputy to Dáil Question 174 of 27 September 2017.

Rail Services

 558. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when the results of the public consultation on the rail review will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42838/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Last year the National Transport Authority, NTA, and Iarnród Éireann published the Rail Review Report 2016 on which the NTA held a public consultation. Over 300 submissions were received by the NTA in response to that consultation process, which have now all been examined, and the NTA submitted a report of those submissions to my Department last week.

I will be considering the report now, and I will then bring it to Government. It is my intention that the report on the consultation should be published by the NTA following consideration by Government. .

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 559. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the steps he will take to reduce greenhouse gases in view of the fact that 19.8% of 2015 greenhouse gas emissions were caused by public transport. [42867/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Greenhouse gas emissions for the entire transport sector in 2015 amounted to 19.8% of total Irish emissions in 2015. The SEAI estimates that less than 5% of transport emissions came from the public transport fleet in 2015 (buses, rail and taxis). It is reliance on private car travel that represents the most considerable challenge, producing over 50% of overall transport emissions.

Moving to a low-carbon society represents a significant challenge for Ireland’s expanding transport sector, where the use of fossil fuels and individual travel patterns are firmly established. Decarbonising transport will require a significant step-change in how we travel, how we do business and the types of fuels and technologies we employ.

To date, a number of successful measures have already been introduced to reduce transport sector emissions including: sustained investment in the public and sustainable transport network to increase capacity and promote modal shift; implementation of EU regulations limiting tail pipe emissions; redesigning the Vehicle Registration Tax, VRT, and motor tax regimes to promote low carbon emitting vehicles; incentives to encourage alternative fuel and technologies; and the introduction of a Biofuel Obligation Scheme. Furthermore, under the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government a dedicated Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce was established to consider the range of measures and options available to Government to accelerate the uptake of alternatively powered vehicles.

The transport sector must and will continue to play a strong role in contributing to our national emissions reduction effort. Ireland's welcome return to economic growth has brought with it an increase in transport demand and, without intervention, transport emissions will unquestionably continue to rise. The transport sector is faced with the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions without hindering social improvement or financial recovery.

To decarbonise transport a diverse range of measures is required, key among them being increasing public transport capacity, promoting sustainable travel and modal shift, and encouraging the uptake and deployment of cleaner alternative fuels and technologies. This is reflected in the wide-ranging set of transport mitigation measures included in the National Mitigation Plan, and it is anticipated that these measures will develop further as climate research and technological innovations progress.

In suitable urban areas, I am strongly committed to meeting increasing travel demand through enhanced public transport capacity and encouraging more cycling and walking journeys - knows as "active travel" - and, within the context of the Government's budgetary policy and competing expenditure needs, I am working to be able to invest more in such infrastructure and services over time.

Outside urban areas - where dependence on private cars is strongest and where systems of public transport and active travel offer less realistic potential to addressing travel needs effectively and efficiently - a different solution must be sought, and here alternative fuels and technologies currently offer the most feasible and cost-effective answer. .

Electric Vehicles

 560. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if companies will be permitted to reclaim VAT on petrol and or diesel to facilitate the purchase of hybrid and plug in hybrid cars. [42868/17]

 562. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans to introduce free car parking, free toll and the use of certain bus lanes for electric car users. [42870/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 560 and 562 together.

Tax policy and the availability of tax incentives are a matter for the Minister for Finance in the first instance. 

The Government is very supportive of the transition of the car fleet to zero emissions technology, especially electric vehicles, EVs.  The Deputy may be aware that my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, have jointly convened an interdepartmental Low-Emitting Vehicles, LEV, Taskforce to consider a full suite of potential measures to expedite the deployment of low carbon technologies under a commitment outlined in the, "Programme for a Partnership Government". 

The wide-ranging work of the Taskforce has been divided between three working groups addressing: Market Growth Stimuli and Visibility; Infrastructure, Energy Regulation and Pricing; and Planning Legislation, Building Regulations and Public Leadership.  

Working Group 1 of the LEV Taskforce, which is chaired by my Department, includes the examination of existing and potential fiscal support measures; developing business related incentives such as the accelerated capital allowance scheme and BIK scheme; as well as the consideration of other incentives including free parking and free tolls for EV drivers.  

Interim findings and recommendations of the LEV Taskforce relating to Electric Vehicles have been considered in the context of the 2018 budgetary and Estimates processes.

In relation to the potential use of bus lanes by EVs, many cases have been made over the years for extending access to the bus lanes to various classes of traffic.  These have been rejected as allowing additional categories of traffic to use the lanes would undermine their efficiency for their given purpose, which is to facilitate bus transport and provide a better quality public transport service, which in turn plays an important role in our overall emissions reduction..

Vehicle Registration

 561. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans to extend the VRT grant for full hybrid vehicles beyond 31 December 2018. [42869/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As the Deputy is aware, tax policy generally and tax incentives, such as VRT relief, are matters for the Minister for Finance.

The Government is very supportive of the transition of the car fleet to zero emissions technology, especially electric vehicles, EVs.  My Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, have jointly convened an interdepartmental Low-Emitting Vehicles, LEV, Taskforce to consider a full suite of potential measures to expedite the deployment of low carbon technologies under a commitment outlined in the, "Programme for a Partnership Government". 

The three working groups of the Taskforce are addressing Market Growth Stimuli and Visibility; Infrastructure, Energy Regulation and Pricing; and Planning Legislation, Building Regulations and Public Leadership.

My Department chairs Working Group 1 of the Taskforce which, among other things, is examining the following: existing and potential fiscal support measures - including the VRT relief; developing business related incentives such as the accelerated capital allowance scheme and BIK scheme; and potential other incentives including free parking and free tolls for EV drivers. Interim findings and recommendations of the LEV Taskforce relating to Electric Vehicles have been considered in the context of the 2018 budgetary and Estimates processes..

Question No. 562 answered with Question No. 560.

Electric Vehicles

 563. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the percentage of all State vehicles that are hybrid or electric; and the way in which this figure compares with 2015 and 2016 and projected targets up to 2020. [42871/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The  information requested by the Deputy is not collected in the format sought; however, the following relevant information has been extracted from the National Vehicle File. As of 31 of September, there were 6,536 vehicles registered under the, "State-Owned, Emergency Vehicles and Rescue Vehicles", tax classification. The Deputy should note that this definition potentially omits some state/public vehicles that are not registered under this tax exemption category. Based on this definition, the following table summaries the number of hybrid and fully electric, "State Vehicles", registered from 2015.

  As the Deputy is aware, to date the uptake of electric vehicles, EVs, in Ireland has been relatively low. There are a range of factors accepted internationally as being barriers to transition to EV technology including limited vehicle choice, range anxiety and low consumer awareness.  This slower-than-anticipated transition to EVs is not Ireland-specific and does not indicate a lack of ambition or support. Increasing range performances, technology advancements, greater affordability and improved consumer choice will be the greatest levers in triggering large-scale change.

  The Government is, of course, very supportive of the transition to EVs.  My Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, have jointly convened an interdepartmental Low-Emitting Vehicles, LEV, Task Force to consider a full suite of potential measures to expedite the deployment of low carbon technologies under a commitment outlined in the, "Programme for a Partnership Government". 

  It may interest the Deputy to note that as part of Working Group 1 of the LEV Taskforce – chaired by my Department - the role of public sector leadership in encouraging EV uptake is being examined. In this regard, I understand that the National Procurement Service are planning to introduce a new public procurement framework contract for EVs in 2018, which would allow public bodies to purchase EVs with reduced administrative burden.

  Working Group 1 is also is examining existing and potential fiscal support measures as well as the development of new incentives. Interim findings and recommendations of the LEV Taskforce relating to Electric Vehicles have been considered in the context of the 2018 budgetary and estimates processes.

- 30th Sept 2017 31st Dec 2016 31st Dec 2015
Total State Owned 6,536 6,474 6,162
Petrol Electric 4 4 7
Electric 5 5 5

National Car Test Fees

 564. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his views on whether the NCT fee of €28 is reasonable for a visual inspection in respect of a headlight which is carried out on the same day as the actual NCT; the reason for this fee; if he will review this fee structure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42889/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The operation of the National Car Test is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority, and I have no role in individual cases.  I have therefore referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

Tourism Promotion

 565. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his strategy and plans for counteracting the decline of UK visitor numbers here; the changes he plans to make to his departmental budget to deal with this evolving situation; his strategy for the Border counties in view of the fact that these areas are heavily dependent on UK markets for tourism revenue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43007/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I welcome the overall growth in visit numbers to Ireland in the first eight months of 2017. However, the persistent decline in the numbers visiting from Great Britain continues to be a concern. The fall in the value of sterling against the euro following the Brexit vote in the UK has been the primary factor in this.

Tourism Ireland is responsible for marketing Ireland as a tourist destination in overseas markets. I am informed that it has implemented a series of actions in the GB market to address the implications of Brexit and the fall in the value of sterling.  For example, a greater focus has been placed on, "culturally curious", visitors, who are less impacted by currency fluctuations and highlighting off-season breaks and value offers.  I am aware also that Tourism Ireland has increased publicity and trade visits for the border area. As well as this, it is pursuing a market diversification strategy. This aims to attract more visitors from markets which deliver longer stays and, therefore, higher revenue returns. This strategy is bearing fruit as evidenced by the significant increase in visitors from North America and other markets thus far in 2017. 

Fáilte Ireland has recently launched its Brexit Response Programme.  Its new, "Get Brexit Ready", programme offers a suite of industry supports, designed to help businesses struggling with the loss of trade created by Brexit.  The programme allows individual businesses to self-assess their exposures and risks and provides a range of interventions to match their needs.

In terms of budgets, allocations for 2018 will be made available in Budget 2018.  I have highlighted various funding priorities for my Department for 2018 in my discussions with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, including Brexit-related priorities..

Rail Services

 566. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will address a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43023/17]

: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The issue raised is a matter for Iarnród Éireann, and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the Company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a response within ten working days..

Airlines Regulations

 567. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he has issued an instruction to the Commission for Aviation Regulation to liaise with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK in respect of a Europe-wide issue with a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42163/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Since Ryanair announced that it had made a commercial decision to cancel or suspend flights on a number of routes across it European-wide network, officials from my Department have been in regular contact with all the relevant entities including Ryanair, the Commission for Aviation Regulation, CAR, and the Irish Aviation Authority.

I have also been in direct contact with the airline’s CEO and have expressed the Government’s concerns at the disruption caused to passengers by these cancellations, and I will continue to engage with the CAR and the airline to ensure that all Irish passengers’ rights are upheld and that any possible impact upon them is minimised.

The legal framework in relation to protection of air passenger rights in the event of cancellation, denied boarding and delay is set at European level and is governed by the provisions of EU Regulation 261 of 2004. This regulation provides for consumer protections which may include, depending on the circumstances arising, refund of airfares, re-routing either as soon as possible or at a later date at the passengers convenience, care and assistance and compensation.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation is the independent regulator for the enforcement of air passenger rights for flights out of Ireland, functioning as the national enforcement body for such matters. The CAR has been working directly with Ryanair since the announcements were made to ensure that the provisions of the regulation were correctly applied in respect of the passengers affected.  

On Friday, 29 September, CAR announced that it has secured agreement from Ryanair that it will comply with the regulations and directly provide affected customers with the necessary information on refunds, rerouting, care and assistance and compensation. Ryanair has also issued a public statement explaining to customers how and when they will be re-accommodated on other Ryanair flights or other airline flights as necessary. It is understood that Ryanair has also committed to provide weekly updates to CAR on the number of passengers entitled to compensation and expenses, the number of claims submitted and the number of claims closed-out.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation is part of a close network of national enforcement bodies across the EU, including the Civil Aviation Authority, CAA, in the UK. It is noted that Ryanair has also recently replied to the UK CAA agreeing to meet its requirement for customer clarification on Ryanair’s obligations under regulation 261, which are in line with those requested by the CAR. 

I am satisfied that the Commission for Aviation Regulation is working to ensure that passengers are dealt with efficiently and effectively to minimise disruption to affected customers and to ensure that their consumer rights are fully protected..

Road Safety

 568. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the position regarding the 2017 ministerial committee on road safety meetings; the priorities for his Department for the autumn and winter term in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41980/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Ministerial Committee on Road Safety, which I chair, brings together the major stakeholders in working to make our roads safer, including my colleague the Minister for Justice, an Garda Síochána, the Attorney General, the Road Safety Authority, Transport Ireland Infrastructure, the Health and Safety Authority, the Department of Health, the Medical Bureau for Road Safety and the City and County Management Association.

The Committee is tasked to meet every six months, but in response to the rise in road deaths in 2015 and 2016, I decided that we should meet every three months to concentrate our efforts to reverse this trend.  I am pleased to report that road deaths have decreased to date in 2017 by 16% on last year.

However, there is no room for complacency; every road death is one too many, and the Committee will continue working to reduce this figure further.

 Unfortunately, the four main causes of road deaths continue to be speeding, intoxicated driving, using mobile phones and the non-wearing of seatbelts, all of which are preventable, and the Committee will continue to focus on these areas.  Public awareness campaigns will also continue to focus on vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, in an effort to make our roads safer for all. My immediate priority is to see the passage of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017, which deals with intoxicated driving, through the Houses of the Oireachtas. .

Road Traffic Legislation

 569. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of the Road Traffic (Drink Driving - Fixed Penalty Notice) Bill 2017; when he expects this legislation to be brought before Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41982/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Bill referred to by the Deputy is now entitled the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017, and was published on 17 July of this year.

I regard this Bill as a significant measure to address an anomaly in the drink driving legislation so that all drivers who are detected driving over our existing legal limits, who opt not to have their cases heard in court, will receive a mandatory disqualification which reflects the seriousness and potentially devastating consequences of drink driving. I intend to bring this Bill before the Dáil as soon as possible. While a date has not yet been fixed, I expect this to be within the next few weeks..

Departmental Reports

 570. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the position regarding the regular multi-agency criminal justice, FCPS, working group with the Department of Justice and Equality; the status of this group and the implementation of the recommendations in the Garda Inspectorate's report, The Fixed Charge Processing System – A 21st Century Strategy of February 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41983/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Criminal Justice Fixed Charge Processing Group, jointly chaired by my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality, includes officials from both Departments and representatives from the Road Safety Authority, an Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General's Office, the Revenue Commissioners and the Courts Service.

The Group was established in 2014 in response to the Garda Inspectorate Report of that year, and meets every two months to progress and report on the various projects under its aegis.

Among the projects successfully implemented under the Group's guidance are the third payment option, whereby motorists on receipt of a summons for non-payment of a fixed charge are now afforded a final chance to pay the charge and avoid a court appearance; work on the design of the Master Licence Record in the National Vehicle and Driver File, a three-year project, commenced last year; and various measures to increase the rate of service of summons (which has risen from 57% in 2014 to 69% in 2016).    

The Group is due to meet again in November 2017 for a Future Vision session, where new priorities will be identified and a work programme agreed..

Road Projects Expenditure

 571. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if the east-west link road investment project in County Cavan will be considered for additional capital funding to be announced by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40146/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Proposals to deliver an upgraded route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo. The latter would involve a route that passes through Northern Ireland. 

In relation to the national element as Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual national road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993.  Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.  

The Capital Plan published in September 2015 provides for the gradual build up in expenditure on the maintenance and improvement of the road network over a seven-year period. The bulk of expenditure is scheduled to be spent on maintenance of the road network with some limited investment in new projects.  My Department has provided funding to Cavan County Council (acting as lead authority with Monaghan and Louth County Councils) with over €2 million in the period 2007-2014 to progress the regional road element of the project to preliminary design.  At an estimated cost of €150 million, unfortunately it was not possible to include the East-West Link in the Capital Plan..


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