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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 572-595
 Header Item Rail Network Expansion
 Header Item Greenways Development
 Header Item Lobbying Data
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Applications
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Greenways Development
 Header Item Rural Transport Programme Data
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Tourism Data
 Header Item Tourism Data
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme
 Header Item Sports Events
 Header Item Tourism Data
 Header Item Tourism Data
 Header Item Tourism Promotion

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. 572-595

Rail Network Expansion

 572. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when the independent costing and review of the Western Rail Corridor Phase 2 between Athenry and Claremorris for passenger and freight use will be completed; the group appointed to carry out this independent costing; the terms of reference of the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42194/17]

 573. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the steps he has taken, including contact with local authorities, along the western rail corridor to ensure that no measures are taken to prevent the future reactivation of the western rail corridor for rail use as set out in the McCann report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42195/17]

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. 572 and 573 together.

The Programme for Partnership Government includes a commitment to provide for an independent costing and review of the Western Rail Corridor Phase 2 between Athenry and Claremorris for passenger and freight use.

The role of heavy rail in Ireland's transport sector is currently under review. The National Transport Authority, NTA, held a public consultation process to start a national debate on the current and future role of rail transport in Ireland. The public consultation process was launched with the publication of a Rail Review 2016 Report, which examined the funding required to support the heavy rail network now and into the future, together with a consultation document, "The Role of Rail in Ireland and Funding its Delivery".

Over 300 submissions were received by the NTA in response to that consultation process, which have now all been examined, and the NTA is preparing a report of those submissions, which I received in just the last couple of days and will now be examining.

As noted within the Rail Review Report, its analysis predates the finalisation of the National Planning Framework which is being developed at present under the leadership of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Once agreed by Government, the approach which that Framework adopts toward land-use planning and settlement patterns for the country will have significant impacts on the potential of rail and other transport infrastructure and services into the future. No decisions have been made on future changes to the rail network, including any decisions relating to the western rail corridor.

Finally, as the Deputy has pointed out, the Programme for Government also commits that no measures will be taken to prevent the future reactivation of the western rail corridor for rail use. I will ensure that this commitment is fulfilled. .

Greenways Development

 574. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of a greenway (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42226/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The extension of the Great Southern Trail to Tralee is a matter for Kerry County Council. Accordingly, the Council would be better placed to update the Deputy on progress.

I understand that Limerick County Council is also working on improving the quality of the Great Southern Trail and is also seeking to extend the route to Limerick city.

The Deputy may be aware that my Department recently undertook a public consultation process to inform the development of a new Greenways Strategy. My officials are currently reviewing the many submissions received from both citizens and stakeholders, including those expressing support for the extension of the Great Southern Trail to Tralee. My Department is aiming to have the new Strategy completed by the end of the year. Following completion, it is expected that a new round of funding for greenway infrastructure will be announced.

It is important that local authorities progress work in advance of this funding round, as I anticipate that those projects that have feasibility, planning and design work completed will be in a better position to attract funding than those that do not..

Lobbying Data

 575. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the number of occasions on which he has been lobbied in respect of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill since March 2016; the persons he has met with; the dates of these meetings; the details of the basis of the lobbying; his views on the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42298/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Since the commencement of the Lobbying Act 2015 from 1 September 2015, all lobbyists who come under the Act are required to register and to provide information regularly about their lobbying activities. The Deputy can access details of such activities at the following website: https://www.lobbying.ie.

  In relation to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in particular, which is currently before Seanad Éireann, this proposed legislation is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Health. Insofar as it relates to sports matters, the proposals include a variety of measures such as:

  - No sponsorship of competition/team/events for under 18s;

  - No sponsorship (or advertising) if the audience is more than 20% children, accompanied by a regulation-making power for the Minister for Health to reduce this audience percentage; and

  - No sponsorship of motor sports.

  The Bill is due to be amended in the Oireachtas in the coming months.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

 576. 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 an application for sports capital funding by a club (details supplied) will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42307/17]

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 an application has been submitted by the organisation referred to. By the closing date, a record number of 2,320 applications seeking €155 million in grants were received. The total amount currently available to allocate under this round is €30 million. 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. .

Road Projects

 577. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the reason traffic calming measures on the N18 and N17 at Annagh Cross, Ballyglunnin, such as signage along with footpaths for ease of access for local national school and residents have not materialised in view of the fact comprehensive presentation was made as requested by the council liaison engineer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42327/17]

 596. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the position regarding compensation in respect of the N63 upgrade at Abbey Road, Abbeyknockmoy; the reason for delays regarding same; if his attention has been drawn to the lack of consultation between TII and landowners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42448/17]

 597. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if TII has communicated recent difficulties regarding flooding along the N63 at Abbey Road, Abbeyknockmoy; and his views on whether the design is robust against pluvial flooding and is future proofed. [42449/17]

 598. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if lighting will be put in place at the Finns Cross, Ballyglunnin Junction; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42450/17]

 599. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if adequate lighting will be put in place at the Monastery Brooklodge Church Junction as part of new infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42451/17]

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. 577 and 596 to 599, inclusive, together.

  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.

Greenways Development

 578. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his attention has been drawn to the public support that exists in east County Galway for the development of a greenway on the closed railway from Athenry to Tuam and on to Milltown (details supplied). [42328/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Strategic Investment Framework recommended the development of a new rail policy, and 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. The NTA submitted a report of those submissions to me two days ago.

I will consider 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. In advance of that, no decisions have been taken regarding matters such as the future of individual rail lines or investment in the company and its relevant infrastructure.

My Department recently undertook a public consultation process to inform the development of a new Greenways Strategy. A substantial number of submissions received in this process supported the development of the disused railway line from Athenry to Tuam and on to Milltown as a greenway. My officials are currently reviewing the many submissions received from both citizens and stakeholders. My Department is aiming to have the new Strategy completed by the end of the year. Following completion, it is expected that a new round of funding for greenway infrastructure will be announced.

It is important that local authorities progress work in advance of this funding round, as I anticipate that those projects that have feasibility, planning and design work completed will be in a better position to attract funding than those that do not..

Rural Transport Programme Data

 579. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if the report on rural transport as committed to on page 50 of the programme for government has been furnished to the relevant Houses of the Oireachtas committee; the date on which it was furnished; if the report was discussed at the committee; if the report is available to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42336/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross In recognition of the value and benefit of rural transport to many communities, the Programme for a Partnership Government undertakes to examine how best to improve integration of services in the rural bus network within regions, and proposed that a report about this should be provided to the relevant Oireachtas Committee. Work on this matter is still underway, so such a report has not yet been provided to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport.

The Deputy may be aware that the National Transport Authority, NTA – which operates under the aegis of my Department – has responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme, which now operates under the, “Local Link”, brand. Arising from the Programme for Government commitment for a report on rural transport, we asked the NTA to examine the way in which existing routes can be made more sustainable and accessible to the public and the potential for greater integration. The NTA has now provided material to my Department about the role and operation of the Local Link services in connecting rural dwellers to facilities and services in their area, and the potential for the future. This is now being examined and developed by my Department in the context of its wider work on review of public transport policy, as also committed to in the Programme for Government. Our intention is that there would be a report about rural transport matters for the Committee early in the new year..

Road Network

 580. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if each road identified for upgrading or construction in the Government's original capital plan 2016 to 2017 and in the amended version is based on the recommendation and prioritisation of TII only. [42378/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Given its role in relation to national roads TII's input is taken into account in drafting capital expenditure programmes but TII does not have a policy role in relation to regional and local roads. As Minister, therefore, I have to take an overview of overall Departmental policy not alone regarding the national, regional and local road network but across all the sectors for which the Department is responsible in deciding capital expenditure priorities.

In light of the conclusions in the Department's SFILT, priority is being given to bringing maintenance and renewal expenditure back to the levels required to maintain our transport network adequately and this has meant that the scope for new projects is limited. Clearly, as Minister, I would like to be in a position to see more projects advance but I have to work within the budget available to me and this does impact on priorities..

Road Network

 581. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the extent to which he expects to be able to obtain inclusion in the capital programme of the most urgently required major road projects throughout the country with a view to facilitating free movement of traffic and adherence to highest possible safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42417/17]

 582. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the degree to which he has identified known accident black spots throughout the country on local or regional roads with a view to major or minor remedial works to alleviate the problem and improve the safety for all road users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42419/17]

 583. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the degree to which he has identified the most heavily trafficked arterial, regional or local routes with a view to provision of alternatives and in keeping with best safety standards and convenience for road users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42420/17]

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. 581 to 583, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy is aware, the Capital Plan sets out transport investment priorities to 2022. The decisions on the transport elements of the Capital Plan were framed by the conclusions reached in my Department’s Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport. Based on the findings in that report it is envisaged that maintenance and renewal of the road network will continue to be the main priority over the next period and the bulk of the roads capital budget, approximately €4.4 billion is earmarked for such essential work with a further €600 million allocated for implementation of the PPP road programme which is already underway. The Plan also provides for a limited number of road improvement projects to address specific issues such as bottlenecks and port connectivity.

Statutory responsibility for the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads lies with the relevant local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the local authority's own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is a matter for the local authority. Similarly, within the budget available to it the prioritisation of expenditure in respect of national roads is a matter for TII.

Local authorities are responsible for mapping and collating available collision data on regional and local roads. Where analysis shows that engineering measures may assist in reducing the collision risk at a particular location then any local authority which is not fully self-funding in terms of roads (under the new Local Property Tax regime) may apply to my Department for funding under the Safety Improvement works programme. Each year, monies are made available to local authorities for such works with priority given to works that are considered to be most effective in reducing collisions.

Collision data for national roads is mapped and collated by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII.

As regards the possibility of additional funding within the Plan period, I have sought extra funding for a package of measures under the Capital Plan Review process. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has, however, yet to decide on specific additional allocations. .

Brexit Issues

 584. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the degree to which he has in mind provisions to avert the negative aspects of Brexit on the tourism industry here with particular reference to the need to ensure the maximisation under the circumstances of tourism from the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42421/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Since the UK voted to leave the EU, my Department has been fully engaged in evaluating the ensuing risks for tourism and, together with the tourism agencies, working to address those risks. The Department's analysis of the situation was greatly assisted by the All-Island sectorial meeting I hosted with the industry in January, which examined the impact of Brexit on the tourism and hospitality sector. From a Departmental perspective, we will continue our work across Government to ensure that our concerns are high on the agenda. For tourism, the priorities include maintaining a liberalised aviation regime, preserving the common travel area, avoiding a hard border and retaining British-Irish visa agreements for third countries.

The tourism agencies are engaged in the operational response to Brexit including the decline in numbers visiting from Great Britain. I have referred the Deputy's question to Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland for direct reply on details of the actions being taken by them. Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a reply within ten working days..

Tourism Promotion

 585. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the extent to which potential exists for further development of the tourism sector, with particular reference to the need to encourage growth in the area most likely to be affected by global developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42422/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Government's Tourism Policy Statement, "People, Place and Policy – Growing Tourism to 2025", was launched in March 2015. The main targets contained in the Tourism Policy Statement, to be achieved by 2025, are as follows:

  - Overseas tourism revenue to increase to €5 billion net of inflation, compared to €3.5 billion in 2014;

  - Overseas visits to Ireland to increase to ten million, compared to 7.6 million in 2014; and

  - 250,000 people to be employed in the tourism sector, compared to around 205,000 at present.

In 2015, a Tourism Leadership Group was appointed to put in place a Tourism Action Plan containing key actions required in the period to 2018 in order to achieve the overall objectives in the Policy Statement. The Action Plan was published in January 2016 and contains actions across a range of key issues including skills in the tourism industry; supply of visitor accommodation; overseas tourism marketing; and the contribution of Local Authorities to tourism development. The Tourism Leadership Group, which I chair, met on 21 September last and noted that the key actions are now completed or substantially completed. The Tourism Leadership Group will now start work on a future Tourism Action Plan for the period 2018-20.

  The promotion and development of tourism are primarily matters for the boards and management of Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to the tourism agencies for further reply. Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a response within ten working days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Tourism Promotion

 586. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans for the development of the tourism sector in all areas throughout the country with particular reference to the need to ensure steady growth of the sector throughout the island of Ireland having regard to the need to encourage the marketing of the entire island as a tourist venue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42423/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Government's Tourism Policy Statement, "People, Place and Policy – Growing Tourism to 2025", was launched in March 2015. The main targets contained in the Tourism Policy Statement, to be achieved by 2025, are as follows:

  - Overseas tourism revenue to increase to €5 billion net of inflation, compared to €3.5 billion in 2014;

  - Overseas visits to Ireland to increase to ten million, compared to 7.6 million in 2014; and

  - 250,000 people to be employed in the tourism sector, compared to around 205,000 at present.

In 2015, a Tourism Leadership Group was appointed to put in place a Tourism Action Plan containing key actions required in the period to 2018 in order to achieve the overall objectives in the Policy Statement. The Action Plan was published in January 2016 and contains actions across a range of key issues including skills in the tourism industry; supply of visitor accommodation; overseas tourism marketing; and the contribution of Local Authorities to tourism development. The Tourism Leadership Group, which I chair, met on 21 September last and noted that the key actions are now completed or substantially completed. The Tourism Leadership Group will now start work on a Tourism Action Plan for the period 2018-20.

  The promotion and development of tourism are primarily matters for the boards and managements of Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to the tourism agencies for further reply. Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a response within ten working days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Tourism Data

 587. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the degree to which various elements of the tourism sector have grown over the past five years; his plans for the future in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42424/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Statistics published by the Central Statistics Office show that in the five-year period between 2011 and 2016, the number of overseas visits to Ireland increased by 47.3%. This increase can be broken down further as follows:

  - 36.3% increase in visits from Great Britain;

  - 44.6% increase in visits from Mainland Europe;

  - 83.2% increase in visits from North America;

  - 54.2% increase in visits from Other areas.

  The Government's Tourism Policy Statement, "People, Place and Policy – Growing Tourism to 2025", was launched in March 2015. The main targets contained in the Tourism Policy Statement, to be achieved by 2025, are as follows:

  - Overseas tourism revenue to increase to €5 billion net of inflation, compared to €3.5 billion in 2014;

  - Overseas visits to Ireland to increase to ten million, compared to 7.6 million in 2014; and

  - 250,000 people to be employed in the tourism sector.

Tourism Data

 588. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he is satisfied regarding the availability of an adequate number of hotel and guest house beds to facilitate the growing tourism sector; if he plans particular initiatives in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42425/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin Fáilte Ireland monitors the performance of tourist accommodation through regular occupancy surveys. This analysis indicates that while the country as a whole has sufficient stock of tourist accommodation, there are capacity constraints in areas of high tourist traffic at times of peak demand and additional capacity is required in certain parts of the country, particularly Dublin city.

In this context, Fáilte Ireland commissions periodic assessments of hotel accommodation in Dublin. Although the results confirm the current shortage, they also indicate that there should be sufficient stock - whether being developed currently or being planned - to meet projected demand in the future, with the bulk of new stock due to come on-stream after 2018.

With specific regard to factors within my Department's and Fáilte Ireland's remit, revised hotel regulations were introduced last year in response to consumer preferences and in order to boost the economic rationale for investment in hotel development. The changes set out in these regulations should make investment even more attractive by allowing hotel operators provide more rooms and operate at a lower cost base, thereby improving hotel capacity, competitiveness and profitability. Consumers should also benefit in terms of increased room capacity, competition and range of accommodation..

Tourism Promotion

 589. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the extent to which he expects to be in a position to promote and develop activity tourism such as the use of greenways throughout the country; if he expects further developments in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42426/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I am keen to see the further development of greenways across the country, fully recognising the tourism potential, along with the economic and health benefits that greenways can bring to local communities. To that end, my Department recently undertook a public consultation process to inform the new Greenway Strategy which is currently being developed. I was very impressed by the level of interest and the many submissions received from both citizens and stakeholders. The submissions are currently being reviewed by my officials. Bilateral meetings are also being held between senior officials and key stakeholders to discuss the structure and direction of the new strategy, which my Department is aiming to have completed by the end of the year. Following completion, it is expected that a new round of funding for greenway infrastructure will be announced.

I am confident that this new strategy will create a solid basis for the ongoing delivery of greenways resulting in a significant contribution to activity tourism in Ireland. .

Sports Capital Programme

 590. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the extent to which he expects to be in position to meet the requirements of community-based sporting and recreational organisations in the context of major or minor allocations under the sporting capital grant scheme in 2017 and in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42427/17]

 591. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he is satisfied regarding the adequacy of sources of income for the funding of various capital sports projects throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42428/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin I propose to take Questions Nos. 590 and 591 together.

The Sports Capital Programme is the primary means of providing Government funding to sport and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. More than 10,000 projects have now benefitted from sports capital funding since 1998, bringing the total allocations in that time to €911 million. The programme has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland, with improvements in the quality and quantity of sporting facilities in almost every area.

The 2017 round of the programme was open for applications from 23 January until 24 February 2017. Some 2,320 applications were received during that time seeking a total of €155 million. This is the highest number of application ever submitted under the programme and is testament to the continued relevance of the programme to sports and community groups. The total amount currently available to allocate under the 2017 round is €30 million. Accordingly, the allocation of grants will be particularly challenging.

Officials in my Department are finalising the assessment of all of the 2,320 applications received, and I expect to be in a position to make an announcement regarding allocations in the coming weeks.

In relation to future capital funding for sports projects, my Department is currently finalising a review of national sports policy, which includes a specific focus on how Government should fund sports facilities including large-scale sports projects in the years ahead. It is hoped to publish the new sports policy later this year..

Sports Events

 592. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the position regarding Ireland's application to host the rugby world cup in view of the availability of numerous stadia throughout the island; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42429/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross On 25 September, the Taoiseach and I spearheaded the delegation that presented Ireland's bid to host the Rugby World Cup tournament in 2023. The delegation included, among others, Dick Spring, Chairman, Ireland 2023 Oversight Board; Philip Browne, Chief Executive, IRFU; David Sterling, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service; and Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland's Bid Ambassador.

Ireland has the capacity required to deliver a highly successful Rugby World Cup, with an ideal mix of stadia with varying capacities to cater for different tournament matches and located in the heart of our cities and communities. Five of these stadia have hosted international rugby before, and Croke Park is Europe's third largest stadium. The location, size and mix of our stadia would provide a unique atmosphere for a Rugby World Cup hosted in Ireland.

The decision regarding the successful bidder will be announced by World Rugby on 15 November 2017..

Tourism Data

 593. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the extent to which the tourism sector continues to attract business and conference tourism here, having particular regard to the use of the off season; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42430/17]

: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin My Department's role in relation to tourism lies in the area of national tourism policy. The development of individual tourism sectors such as business tourism is an operational matter for the Board and Management of Fáilte Ireland.

  Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply. Please contact my private office if the Deputy has not received a reply within ten working days.

Tourism Data

 594. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the countries that feature most regularly in the marketing programme for tourism globally; the degree to which tourism growth is acknowledged from those countries or those showing lower visitor numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42431/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for the Board and Management of Tourism Ireland. I have referred the Deputy's Question to Tourism Ireland for direct reply. Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a reply within ten working days..

Tourism Promotion

 595. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the extent to which County Kildare, its historical houses, its racecourses and its heritage continue to be part of the marketing programme for tourism locally and nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42432/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin My Department's role in relation to tourism lies primarily in the area of developing national tourism policy, while the tourism agencies have operational responsibility for the implementation of this policy.

  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.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.


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