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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 35-51
 Header Item Public Transport Provision
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Applications
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Road Improvement Schemes
 Header Item State Agencies
 Header Item Taxi Ranks
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item State Agencies
 Header Item Taxi Regulations
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Applications
 Header Item Overseas Development Aid Provision
 Header Item Undocumented Irish in the USA
 Header Item Northern Ireland Issues
 Header Item Anti-Social Driving Practices
 Header Item Irish Language Issues

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 76 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 35-51

Public Transport Provision

 35. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has considered expanding the Leap card to allow it to be used for the Dublin bikes schemes; if he will bring this proposal to the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57254/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Responsibility to develop, procure, implement, operate and maintain the integrated ticketing Leap Card system in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) became a function of the National Transport Authority (NTA) with effect from 30th September 2010.

I understand from the NTA, however, that they have had initial discussions with the Dublin Bikes scheme and are currently reviewing the options for integration with the Leap card scheme.  Both schemes use contactless RFID technology (Radio Frequency Identification) so there are technical options which can be explored which will need to be discussed and agreed alongside commercial considerations.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

 36. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if any additional funding will be made available to support some of the clubs which were not allocated money under the 2012 sports capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57138/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring There are no plans to allocate Sports Capital Programme funding to clubs who were unsuccessful under the 2012 Sports Capital Programme, though of course it will be open to such clubs to apply under the next round of the programme.

EU Funding

 37. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will outline his involvement in developing the transport element of the connecting Europe facility; if he will state the specific projects that he is likely to fund through the various financial instruments available under the facility; if it is the his preference to fund road infrastructure from the fund; if so, the proportion of funds available to Ireland that are intended to go to road infrastructure; if he will state his priorities for the forthcoming EU Council presidency in relation to EU transportation development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57190/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) was published by the Commission on 19 October 2011. The CEF forms part of the Multi Annual Financial Framework for 2014 to 2020 and the proposed Regulation sets out how €50bn funding will be used to invest in transport, energy and telecoms infrastructures and networks over that time period. The Annex to the Regulation sets out ten so-called "core transport corridors" across the EU.

In Ireland's case, elements of our transport network form part of one of these corridors. Inclusion here, however, is no guarantee of funding from the EU or any other source. It is simply a means of identifying the key "bottlenecks" and "missing links" on the main strategic transport routes across Europe. The emphasis in the CEF and associated Transport Guidelines Regulation (the TEN T) is on a modal shift from road to rail and rail freight in particular. Notwithstanding this, Transport Ministers agreed a General Approach on the Commission proposal on 7 June last that allowed for some limited provision for investment in road infrastructure in Member States - like ours - which are isolated from the main rail network of the EU.

The final outcome of negotiations with the European Parliment and Council on CEF is dependent on the outcome of the Multi Annual Financial Framework negotiations. Both CEF and TENT are key priorities for our Presidency. Other priorities include the Airports Package and the 4th Railway Package.

Road Improvement Schemes

 38. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the position regarding the upgrading of the N22 Ballyvourney to Ovens Road, County Cork; if he envisages that this road will be constructed in the foreseeable future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57248/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar 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 road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Generally, in relation to the capital funding of the national road network, it must be emphasised that progress on individual road schemes, including any improvement works on this route, will very much depend on the availability of funds within a reduced budget.  The Government’s published Capital Expenditure Review confirms that new major road construction projects will be scaled down significantly in the period to 2016.  In 2013 no new, fully Exchequer funded, roads projects are planned to commence construction. However, it is hoped that funding will be secured for a small number of PPP projects as part of the first phase of the Infrastructure Stimulus announced by Minister Howlin in July of this year. Consideration is being given to the possibility of this project being advanced as a PPP project as part of the second phase of the Infrastructure Stimulus.

Notwithstanding the above, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NRA for direct reply in relation to this route.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

State Agencies

 39. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide a detailed account of the plans to merge Shannon Development’s functions with Fáilte Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57261/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Government decided in May 2012 to restructure Shannon Development and to transfer its enterprise support functions to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, and its tourism functions to Fáilte Ireland. The transitional arrangements associated with these moves were examined over the following months as part of the work of a Change Management Task Force.

This decision was confirmed by Government on 27th November as part of the broader decision to grant Shannon Airport full independence from the Dublin Airport Authority and merge the airport with a restructured Shannon Development to form a new, publicly-owned, commercial entity in 2013.

It is envisaged that the tourism functions of Shannon Development, together with the associated staff, will transfer to Fáilte Ireland in the first few months of 2013.  Provison will be made in my Department's 2013 allocation to Fáilte Ireland for the associated pay and programme costs.  In advance of this, both agencies are collaborating in the preparation of 2013 Operational Plans for the Mid-West region and ensuring continuity in the provision of services to tourism businesses.  As part of this process they are in regular consultation with tourism industry in the region.

Taxi Ranks

 40. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the work he is doing to ensure the best integration of taxis into the Dublin transport network in advance of the development of the LUAS BXD project, including ensuring sufficient ranks are provided especially during construction stages. [57242/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) on 1st December 2009, the provision of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as Luas Broombridge, now comes under the remit of the NTA.

The construction of the Luas Broombridge project (also referred to as the Luas BXD Project) was approved by An Bord Pleanála in August of this year and advance works will commence next year.

Every effort has been made to minimise the construction impacts of Luas BXD on all road users, including pedestrians, and on businesses in the city centre area. A Traffic Forum has been established for the project, comprising representatives of the RPA, An Garda Síochána, Dublin City Council, Dublin Bus and the NTA.  This forum will play the key role developing the transport arrangements that will be put in place during the construction of the Luas Broombridge.

I understand from the NTA that as part of that project certain taxi ranks will require relocation along the path of the scheme, some on a temporary basis and others on a permanent basis. The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for Luas Broombridge indicated which Taxi Rank spaces were affected (temporarily & permanently) by the project and identified possible replacement locations. A review is currently being carried out by the NTA to provide additional taxi rank spaces that also incorporates the replacement spaces considered in the EIS.

Tourism Promotion

 41. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the way he plans to reduce the tourism marketing fund by 5%; where he expects the savings to come from; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57265/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The question relates to the allocation for the Tourism Marketing Fund in 2013.

The overall provision for tourism services in 2013 is approximately €140 million across a diverse range of activities. Within this, the Tourism Marketing Fund has a provision of over €37 million. While this represents a reduction of 5% on the 2012 allocation, it will enable Tourism Ireland to fully implement their 2013 Marketing Plans which were launched by Minister Varadkar on the 29th November. Most of the Tourism Marketing fund is allocated to Tourism Ireland, the agency with responsibility for the overseas promotion of Ireland as a tourist destination. As the Deputy will be aware, all north/south bodies are required to achieve 3% efficiency savings year on year, with the balance of the reduction in 2013 being implemented through a consolidation in the areas of overseas product, niche and regional marketing led by Fáilte Ireland.

While the Tourism Marketing Fund itself has been reduced slightly, it should be noted that the major focus of overseas promotion next year will be on The Gathering Ireland 2013, the biggest ever tourism  initiative held in Ireland. A special allocation of €7 million has been provided for the initiative in the Estimates for 2013 which should assist in achieving our ambitious target of 325,000 extra visitors to Ireland next year.

State Agencies

 42. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which he expects the various bodies under his aegis to be in a position to make a sizeable or important contribution towards economic recovery in the coming year; if he has identified particular areas in the tourism, transport or sporting sectors that are likely to present specific opportunities in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57195/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Programme for Government sets out the measures which the Government are taking to achieve economic recovery. The Programme places a heavy emphasis on tourism as one of the key areas for the generation of employment and also on the delivery of effective transport services. The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 is  designed to have 100,000 more people in work by 2016 and 2 million people in work by 2020. The net 100,000 jobs over the next five years to 2016 will be created through direct jobs in manufacturing (20,000) and internationally traded services (30,000) plus an additional 50,000 indirect spin‐off jobs.

I announced my priorities for 2012 and also my medium and longer term priorities on my Department's website.  Early in the new year, I  will both be reporting on the achievement of the 2012 priorities and setting out my priorities for 2013. The Statement of Strategy which is also publically available on the website sets out the specific measures that my Department will be taking in the period to 2014. A key commitment of that Strategy is to increase tourism numbers to 8 million by 2015. The Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy of 2010 envisaged that this would result in an additional 15,000 directly employed in tourism.

Transport demand, on the other hand, is primarily derived from the outputs of other economic sectors. One would expect increases in demand and employment within the transport sector to result from increased economic outputs generally.

Taxi Regulations

 43. 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 if he will consider further financial incentives to increase the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the State’s taxi fleet.  [57238/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the regulation of the taxi industry under the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003 . Among the principal functions of the NTA, as provided for under Section 9 of that Act, is the promotion of access to small public service vehicles by persons with disabilities.

It is a matter for the NTA to decide on the future approach to incentives for wheelchair accessible taxis in the light of the available funding and other priorities as regards supporting enhanced accessibility of public transport services generally, including bus, rail and taxi services.

While there has been a relatively low take-up of the previous grant schemes towards increasing the number of  wheelchair accessible taxis, I understand that the NTA will be reviewing this issue in early 2013. I would also point out to the Deputy that as part of the taxi review undertaken last year, it was decided to review the standards that are set for Wheelchair Accessible Taxis so that the cost of such a vehicle can be reduced. Similarly work is progressing on a single dispatcher for accessible services and will be piloted as part of this review by the NTA.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

 44. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the criteria used to determine the way the €26 million of funding for sports capital grants was allocated to sports clubs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57137/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring All applications received under the 2012 Sports Capital Programme were first checked to ensure eligibility and then eligible applications were initially assessed against the following criteria (the final 4 criteria only apply to regional and national projects):

Selection Criteria
Increase in the levels of active participation/ improved standards of sporting performance, especially among women and older citizens
Level of socio-economic disadvantage in the area
Technical merits of the project
Financial viability of project
Level of own funding available
Extent to which applicant will be able to maintain project after completion
Current and planned levels of sport and/or recreational sport facilities in the area
Current or proposed sharing of facilities with other sporting groups or schools
Level of SCP (or other Government) funding received in the past
Strategies to be used to attract people from disadvantaged areas
Priority of proposed improvements/ facility in relation to existing facilities
Priorities as identified by the NGB (national/regional projects only)
Priority as identified by the Irish Sports Council (NGB and third level only)
Location of facility within the network of national, regional and municipal facilities (non-local projects only)
Linkages with Local Authorities Swimming Pools Programme (municipal multi-sport only)


  In deciding the final allocations of funding to local projects within each county I had regard to a number of additional factors, including:

- the performance of each application during the assessment process;

- ensuring a geographic spread of projects within each county;

- ensuring an appropriate spread of projects between rural and urban areas within each county; and

- ensuring that there is a spread of projects among different sports.

  Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 26.

  Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 31.

Overseas Development Aid Provision

 47. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his plans to set out interim targets in relation to funding levels for overseas development aid to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57462/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello The Government is strongly committed to Ireland’s aid programme. The programme prioritises the fight against global poverty and hunger and is consistently rated internationally as one of the most effective in the world. It is strongly focused on the poorest countries and communities in sub-Saharan Africa, prioritising investments in the areas of education, health, good governance, food security and nutrition.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - the framework for international development policy up to 2015 - are central to Ireland’s overseas development programme, and to the Government's development policy. Globally, the incidence of poverty is reducing, and it is likely that the first Millennium Development Goal – to halve world poverty by 2015 – will be met. International aid has played a hugely important part in contributing to this progress.

For 2012, the Government provided some €639 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA). In 2013, it is anticipated that ODA will amount to €623 million, a modest reduction on the 2012 level. Stabilising the ODA budget has been an important and very significant achievement for this Government, particularly in light of the extraordinarily difficult economic conditions facing the country. Progress towards achieving the UN target of 0.7% of GNP for development assistance can only be made through restoring sustainable growth in our economy.

Undocumented Irish in the USA

 48. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has considered a proposal (details supplied) in relation to visas for highly skilled jobs and the undocumented Irish in the US; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57480/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Government continues to attach particular importance to the welfare of the Irish abroad in general and especially to the position of undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States. A resolution of the situation for undocumented Irish will continue to be pursued by the Government in our ongoing contacts with the US Administration and Congress. The advice of Ireland’s friends and contacts within the US Administration and Congress has long been that comprehensive reform of the US immigration system is likely to be the only manner by which such a resolution can be achieved. The prospects for such reform would appear to have advanced in the wake of President Obama's re-election. Through our Embassy in Washington and in close liaison with Irish-American community representatives, our contacts with the US Administration and Congress will intensify over the coming weeks with a view to ensuring that the interests and concerns of undocumented Irish immigrants are captured in any future legislative deal in this area that emerges. In this regard, I raised the issue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during our bilateral meeting on 6 December last and recalled our strong support for comprehensive immigration legislation and the passage of E3 visas for Irish citizens. It is likely that any E3 visa arrangement would encompass an element of reciprocity for US citizens wishing to work in Ireland.

Much further debate and discussion is likely to be required within the US political system as to what any future legislative deal might comprise. It is therefore not possible at this stage to specify its contents or identify an exact timescale in which these may become clear but the area will continue to receive the Government’s close attention over the period ahead.

Northern Ireland Issues

 49. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will follow up the case of a person (details supplied) with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in view of the reported cases of repeated police harassment they have been subjected to and their current incarceration on contested grounds. [57523/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The question refers to a matter that is before the courts concerning the possible illegal activities of a private individual. Respecting the integrity and strength of the judicial process in Northern Ireland, I do not consider it appropriate to make any public statements that would undermine that process. However, while no institution is above criticism, it is important to recall that the completion of the devolution of policing and justice marked an important milestone in fulfilling the vision of the Good Friday Agreement and in the transformation of policing structures in Northern Ireland. All those involved in changing attitudes around policing can be very proud of the service they have built and the changed culture of policing.

  More than a decade on from the Patten Report, authority and responsibility for policing and justice issues are now where they ought to be – at the local level, accountable to, and operating for the benefit of all in the community. In the spirit of Patten, the PSNI is a police service, not a police force  , part of the framework of society in the north.

Anti-Social Driving Practices

 50. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore further to Parliamentary Question No. 1 of 17 October 2012, if contact has been made with the Justice Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive or with other Departments or agencies on a cross-Border basis to deal with serious anti-social driving practices on the N54-A3 road; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57527/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore As the Deputy is aware from my answers to previous questions on this matter, the issue of anti-social driving practices on the N54/A3 road is not a matter for the North South Ministerial Council. However, I did take the opportunity at the NSMC Plenary meeting in Armagh on 2 November, to bring the issue to the attention of my colleagues from the Northern Ireland Executive. The seriousness of the issue of anti-social driving behaviour is recognised by Ministers on both sides of the border. The matter has been brought to the attention of the Department of Justice and Equality for appropriate action.

Irish Language Issues

 51. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the discussions he has had with Members of the Northern Ireland Executive in relation to the Irish Language Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57552/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore All parties to the Good Friday Agreement recognised the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in Northern Ireland, the Irish language and the languages of the various ethnic communities, as part of the cultural wealth of the island of Ireland. In the St Andrews Agreement, the British government committed to introducing an Irish Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and to working with the Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish Language.

It also called on the incoming Northern Ireland Executive to work to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language. The British legislation giving effect to the St. Andrews Agreement included a specific requirement on the Executive to adopt a strategy setting out how it proposed to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language.

Since the restoration of the devolved Institutions on 8 May 2007, the question of an Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland is a devolved matter and is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive. In that regard, my colleagues the Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan T.D. and Minister of State Dinny McGinley T.D. have had ongoing discussions on the matter with his counterpart, the Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Ms Carál Ní Chuilín MLA. On 11 July 2012, Minister Ní Chuilín launched a consultation process which concluded on 27 November on strategies for the Irish language and Ulster Scots.

I recently visited An Chultúrlann in Belfast which is a very impressive Irish language and cultural centre. I had the opportunity to meet with some of the city’s leading Irish language activists and to hear their concerns regarding the promotion of the Irish language including their views on an Irish language act for Northern Ireland.

The Government continues to follow developments closely in relation to the proposed Act, as well as the overall enhancement and protection of the Irish Language in Northern Ireland. We remain fully committed to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement, including the provisions relating to the Irish language.


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