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 Header Item Other Questions (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Public Transport Provision

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

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  7 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring] The Deputy is speaking my language. It greatly annoys me that every other Department wants to have responsibility for sport. Funding is scattered through the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. I agree with the Deputy and I have been complaining about this since I entered office. All of that funding should be allocated to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, which should only deal with sport and nothing else. It is ludicrous that sport is dealt with in the other Departments. If it was all allocated through the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, we could target isolation, rural and urban areas and establish more schemes.

We must put more money into sport; it is money that is well spent. This was the first scheme since 2008 and it was a great achievement to get it up and running. I hope we can continue with this next year. Even if we do not have the money we had this year, if we have €20 million next year, it would be great to open it again. Those clubs that did not get any funding this time are at least validated but the clubs that were not validated should now get themselves validated, and get back into this. Four years was too long to leave clubs unable to make an application.

The Deputy is right about the divide between rural and urban areas. In Dublin, the local authorities provide a lot of facilities. In rural Ireland, that does not happen. I do not care; I like to see sporting facilities everywhere. We are far better investing money in sport than spending the much greater amount of money needed to keep a prisoner in jail. We are better off investing in boxing, which helps in the fight against antisocial behaviour.

I thank the volunteers because it is them who keep sport alive. They collect the money, train the young people and do the work and we do not thank them enough. We are bloody lucky in this country that we have so many volunteers who are prepared to give their time to support young people.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley I recognise the Minister of State has noted the fairness and equity with which the funding was distributed on a county by county basis. He is right; if we follow the per capita model, it is covered. There is a concern about the criteria that are used within a county. There was €900,000 for Wexford and about the same for Clare. Some clubs that got nothing would feel their project was as good as the one that got €80,000 or another that got €40,000. At the end of the day someone must make a judgment call. Some clubs were annoyed that information seemed to be circulating days in advance. It was felt some clubs were being softened up, being told they would not make the grade, while others were told it was looking good. I know how politics works on the ground, some of it is based on the fly or on a hunch, while some is based on having a little information. Perhaps the Minister of State would reflect on the criteria used in terms of how the wash was moved from east to west and north to south.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring We are all political animals, let us not pretend we are not. One of Deputy Dooley's colleagues did something very simple. He looked at the website, picked every club in his area and wrote to me about each of them, making representations. He was going to get something right and hit the jackpot. In a county like Mayo, where there are €18.5 million worth of projects, there would always be people who would be disappointed. People would claim that Government Deputies did better. In Mayo, four out of five Deputies are from Fine Gael and even then they were not satisfied.

I did the best I could. We were never going to get it right. Deputy Wallace was correct; there would always be disappointed people and others who got a grant. I could ask Deputy Dooley which projects in Clare he thinks should not have got money.

Public Transport Provision

 9. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if CIE has received the €36 million subvention announced in July 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57230/12]

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly On 24 July, the Government decided to provide additional PSO funding of €36 million to CIE to ensure that the company could continue to operate for the rest of 2012.  This would bring the total PSO subvention for this year to €278 million, higher than the subvention level for 2010, and the fifth highest level of subvention ever. In November, €16 million of the additional subvention was paid by the National Transport Authority to CIE and the remaining allocation of €20 million was paid by the NTA to CIE last week.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley While that ties in with my earlier points, this is really about the provision that has been made for last year in light of the €36 million that was needed this year. I accept the legislation was passed this week that will provide CIE with the capacity to borrow to a greater extent, and that will be helpful, but there is still real concern in Fianna Fáil and among the workers and those who use CIE services that in a deteriorating financial environment, the consumer will be hit on the double with increased ticket prices and reduced services, thereby further diminishing the quality of the network.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly There is no doubt that 2013 will be a tough year for CIE. A certain level of funding is available and the Department must find the funding for the coming years. We have put in place a three year programme and next year CIE will receive €226 million. We are working closely with the company to ensure it can provide the services with that subvention in 2013. There are cost cutting measures across all of the CIE subsidiary companies. Irish Rail has already agreed to a number of cost cutting measures, while Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann are in negotiations at the moment. There are issues for Bus Éireann and the Department is watching that closely. I thank everyone in the Houses for the speedy passage of the CIE borrowings legislation that will allow us to increase its borrowing limit, which is necessary given the current environment.

It would be wrong not to say to everyone in the House with an interest in transport that 2013 will be a challenging year when it comes to CIE and its subsidiaries. We are working closely as a Department with the board of CIE and the chief executives of the three subsidiaries to ensure we can get through 2013 and get more passengers and cut costs, while looking at what other measures are possible to sustain the services we all need.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Different people have different views on the importance of public transport. There is now significant competition in the market with the issuing of licences to some of the private bus operators between certain centres of population. That is putting significant pressure on CIE. As a Labour Party man, is the Minister of State satisfied that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is as committed to public transport as he is?

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly It is certainly Christmas time in here, that question was teed up. The Government is committed to public transport and I assure the Deputy that I work very closely with Deputy Varadkar on the issues he has raised.

We all know 2013 will be a challenging year but we are working with everyone every day to maintain services and ensure they are delivered in a satisfactory manner. The push needs to be to improve the customer experience to get more people to use the services. The additional use of RTPI and Wi-Fi helps to create a better customer experience for everyone using the services, which is crucially important. Measures will be continually undertaken to achieve that.

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