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 Header Item Transport Policy (Continued)
 Header Item Message from Seanad
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)
 Header Item Other Questions (Resumed)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly] Cycling is gaining huge popularity, particularly as a mode of travel to school and work. Anecdotally, cycling is being very much encouraged and it is progressing. The previous Administration helped in this regard with the provision of the tax scheme for bicycles and that has been maintained under this Government. We also need to see the end product from the funding in the smarter travel areas programme, active travel towns, the national cycle network and a number of other smarter travel initiatives and how they impact on these statistics in the years to come.

I am greatly encouraged by the response the Government has had to the call for private investors to come on board to roll out bike schemes in other cities. It is my ambition and that of the Government to introduce bike schemes in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. I look forward to a bright future in this regard.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis The Minister of State put the drop in numbers and the use of cars down to less employment but it is also down to the cut in the number of bus routes, which has been done for cost saving reasons but these services have been cut, in particular, in working class areas. In my area, for example, the 19 and 19A bus routes have been lost and this has been a bone of contention while in rural Ireland primary routes along which buses once picked up in villages such as Rooskey are no more. The number of routes has reduced and some of them have been given over to private companies. Increasing bus fares does not help either when they should remain stable to attract passengers. The subsidies need to be maintained. The Government cannot keep cutting them because every other city in Europe subsidises its transport.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I acknowledge the Deputy is making these comments sincerely but if we were to do everything he said, Dublin Bus would not be sustainable. It is unfortunate that fares had to be increased modestly. The Network Direct project has been successful in many ways and I acknowledge people have issues with it. Nobody knows that better because they come to me as well. It was necessary to ensure from a financial point of view that Dublin Bus would be in a better position in the future. In some cases, many of the issues raised by resident groups around Dublin have been addressed and Dublin Bus has done a good job. The company is operating in a difficult environment and it is not always appropriate to make reference to the fact that routes have had to be cut or changes have had to be made. The company is doing so in the most modest way it can to ensure the least disruption and to ensure it can operate a service for the public in a positive way in the future. It will do that and it does an outstanding job.

Deputy Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I thank the Minister of State for his reply. He correctly pointed out the huge increase in the number of cyclists in urban areas and dublinbikes has played a major role in that but recent surveys have highlighted that a tiny minority of them break the law in a dangerous manner. Penalty points cannot be applied in these cases. Will he consider on-the-spot fines for cyclists who clearly the breach the rules of roads both at traffic lights and on footpaths, which are becoming major urban issues? The former Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Noel Dempsey, invested in a cycle route along the canal but cyclists blatantly ignore traffic lights and they will cause a serious accident. Will the Minister of State bring these issues to the senior Minister and ask him to consider an on-the-spot fines system in this regard?

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Deputy is passionate about these issues. He has spoken previously to me about them and I have some sympathy for his position. It is something we will examine in the future but there is no precedent for such fines. I have witnessed the same issues and, at certain times of the day, they could cause serious disruption.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Will the Government consider a scheme I read about in the newspapers recently, which I did not think was serious at the time but it turned out it was? Swimming lanes have been developed on Regent's Canal in London in order that people can swim to work. Would the Government consider that after cleaning up the canals? One would want showers for the canals in Dublin.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring We have the water in the west.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly That does not need a response.

Message from Seanad

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Seanad Éireann has passed the Social Welfare Bill 2012 without amendment and has accepted the Appropriation Bill 2012 without recommendation.

Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)

Other Questions (Resumed)

 8. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide a detailed breakdown in terms of amount received, location, and names of the clubs in disadvantaged areas who received funding in the 2012 round of the sports capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57257/12]

 12. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when the next round of funding will be available under the sports capital programme; the amount to be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57263/12]

 19. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide details of the clubs and organisations who do not own their own land and or do not have a long term lease who received funding in the first round of the sports capital programme 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57258/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring I propose to take Questions Nos. 8, 12 and 19 together.

I am glad to report that €10.2 million or almost 40% of the value of recent local sports capital allocations was allocated to projects located in designated disadvantaged areas.  I will supply the Deputy with a list of all of the allocations to projects in disadvantaged areas. There are no plans for another round of the sports capital programme at the moment but I hope that, if funding becomes available, it will be possible to do so in the future.  Decisions on the features of that programme and the amount to be allocated will be considered in the context of the prevailing budgetary framework.

I do not have a list of allocations to clubs and organisation that do not own or have a long lease on the property they use and the creation of such a list would involve a disproportionate amount of time.  However, I can confirm that clubs or organisations that did not own their land or did not have a long lease were able to apply for a modest capital grant of up to €25,000 to upgrade facilities this year.  This is the first time the programme has been extended to such groups.  In addition, applicants that were only seeking funding for sports equipment did not need to demonstrate evidence of title.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan I thank the Minister of State for his reply. I hope he will push hard for a second round of sports capital grants because a figure cannot be put on the value of them in the context of people's physical and mental well-being, the fight against obesity and even job creation. Research shows employed people are 50% more likely to participate in sport than those who are unemployed and, with regard to social disadvantage, there is a clear link between educational attainment and participation in sport. For example, those with a third level education are 3.2 times more likely to participate in sport than those with primary education only according to research in 2009. Prisoners in Ireland are 25 times more likely to come from and return to a seriously deprived area. Given almost 450,000 people are out of work and thousands of others are underemployed, it is imperative that the issue of equity is placed centre stage when funding is allocated for sports projects. Moreover, there is a close link between sporting activity and good mental health and between obesity, poor diet and disadvantage. Will the Minister of State give an undertaking to embark on an information campaign regarding the sports capital programme targeted at clubs and organisations that work with disadvantaged people and in disadvantaged areas? A total of €4 million remains to be allocated for regional and national projects. Will he confirm whether any boxing clubs will benefit at regional or national level considering the fantastic performances of their boxers at the Olympic Games?

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring I hope we can negotiate with the Department of Finance regarding another round of funding under the programme and I ask for the support of all sides in the House in this regard. When I came home from the Olympics, I got into some difficulty when what I was said was misinterpreted. I simply made the point that money spent on sport means the State will save money. It is estimated that 250,000 people could develop diabetes over the next ten years. If we have a healthier and fitter society, we will not need as many doctors, nurses and hospitals.

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