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Kelly, Alan

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Taxi Regulations

I thank the Deputy for raising this question. When I first came into office, one of my key priorities was to tackle rogue operators in the taxi sector. There has been unfair competition in the ta...More Button

Overall, the reforms arising from the taxi regulation review report concern the better enforcement of the taxi regulations, the improvement of standards and quality of transport service to custom...More Button

Action 24 of the review report proposes strengthening of the collaboration between the Garda Síochána and the NTA to secure effective "on-street" enforcement of taxi regulations and to refocus th...More Button

The introduction of taxi branding on taxis and wheelchair accessible taxis from 1 January 2013, in line with action 31 of the review report, aims to provide greater visibility and recognition of ...More Button

The new legislation will provide for a much more sophisticated enforcement toolkit, which will include mandatory disqualification for life for serious criminal offences, mandatory disqualificatio...More Button

Other provisions in the Bill will enable the NTA to supplement its existing enforcement resources through service agreements, will allow authorised officers powers to inspect and examine the cond...More Button

I met with the Garda Commissioner as recently as last month on the matter of enforcement. To enforce the taxi regulations, including pursuit of the offences mentioned in the Deputy’s question, the...More Button

Action 24 of the taxi regulation review report proposes strengthening the collaboration between the Garda and the NTA to secure effective on-street enforcement of taxi regulations and refocus the...More Button

 There has been very good co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the NTA on enforcement issues this year and a substantial number of joint operations have been undertaken. The NTA is curren...More Button

I thank Deputy Ellis for his contribution. I note from previous contributions he has made and conversations I have had with him that he has a strong interest in the issue of taxis. The taxi Bill ...More Button

I concur with many of the points Deputy Ellis makes. Enforcement is critical. Last year, 3,000 vehicles were inspected, a substantial number by any standards. However, further improvements can...More Button

I fully agree with the Deputy on the need to empower the National Transport Authority to use other monitoring tools at ranks, including CCTV. Serious issues, including criminality, arise at taxi...More Button

The Deputy makes a good point on door signage, which is crucial. It was the taxi regulation review group, rather than me, which decided that signage was necessary. Its recommendation was put to...More Button

It is coming up to Christmas and we are all feeling flaithiúlach.More Button

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the regulation of the taxi industry under the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003, and is also the lead agency with responsibility for implementa...More Button

As part of the Taxi Regulation Review 2011, the examination of the broad issues for future regulatory policy was assisted by an economic analysis of the taxi market carried out by the consultants, ...More Button

The future approach of the Review Group recommended in the Review Report is towards improvements in the regulation of qualitative standards in the industry and to encourage exit from the industry...More Button

The skills development test for the SPSV drivers licence was introduced in 2009 and then extended to all licensed drivers by 2012. The purpose of the test is to ensure that the recipient of an SP...More Button

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 und...More Button

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...More Button

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 i...More Button

Overall the thrust of the reforms contained in the Taxi Regulation Review Report 2011 will mean better services for consumers and improvements to the operating environment for taxi drivers generall...More Button

Many of the areas of concern to the Deputy have been addressed in the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Bill 2012, which was published earlier this month. The Bill will support measures to ensure...More Button

The Taxi Regulation Bill provides for the prohibition on the transfer of a vehicle licence as envisaged in the Taxi Regulation Review Report. The underlying principle for this proposal is that a ...More Button

Concerning vehicle standards and the age of some vehicles currently operating in the industry, the Taxi Review Group proposed to allow vehicles licensed before 2009 to continue to operate to the ...More Button

There is provision made in the Taxi Regulation Bill 2012 for appeals and representations to be made with regard to SPSV licensing and the decisions of the licensing authority.   More Button

The Taxi Advisory Committee, which I appointed during this summer, includes representatives of small public service vehicle and driver interests in line with the provisions of Section 54 of the T...More Button

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including entry requirements and the operation of the testing process under the SPSV skills development programme, is a matter ...More Button

The Taxi Regulation Review report was published by the Government in January of this year.  It contains 46 actions targeting at improving the regulation and operation of the small public service ve...More Button

Taxi Regulations (Continued)

That started as a compliment but I do not know how it ended.More Button

The last thing the Irish taxi industry needs is more time. Nobody has consulted more with the taxi industry and its drivers than I have. I get taxis all the time and I have met representatives of...More Button

I sense from the Deputy's concern about an issue I feel strongly about myself. That is the issue of rural taxis. I ensured taxi drivers from outside the capital and other cities were involved w...More Button

The last thing we need is more time with this issue. We must change the industry, which needs an overhaul never before seen. We must ensure that the people driving cars should be doing so. Peo...More Button

I have the latest comprehensive industry update, which outlines the changes that will take effect on 1 January, 7 January and 31 January. It is good stuff. For example, anybody getting a taxi -...More Button

Air Services Provision

The question relates to the Minister's intentions concerning the State's shareholding in Aer Lingus. This shareholding is one of the assets included in the State asset disposal programme and the G...More Button

NewERA continues to provide advice and expertise to the steering group.  In view of the complexities involved in this particular disposal, NewERA has recently tendered for the appointment of an a...More Button

I am glad the Deputy welcomes the Government's decision, which was correct. In one sense the Government very much needed to consider the case and make the decision and there was no delay in making...More Button

Air Services Provision (Continued)

As I am sure the Deputy is aware, Ryanair has produced a package aimed at overcoming competition issues. It is solely a matter for the European Commission to make a decision on this issue within a...More Button

The Government made the correct decision in this matter for many of the reasons the Deputy outlined. I am glad the Opposition welcomed our decision. We will sell the State's share in Aer Lingus...More Button

Regional Airports

In the first instance, there is not a support package in place for Shannon Airport. The Deputy will recall that the Minister for Finance announced in his recent budget speech that he will put in p...More Button

The Deputy also refers to aviation priorities and, reflecting this Government's recognition of the importance of the sector, I can confirm that one of our priorities for 2013 is the development o...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that the Government decided last month to proceed with the separation of Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority and merge it with a restructured Shannon Develo...More Button

The Government was faced with two ailing companies in Shannon that are not realising their potential to make a contribution to the economy of the wider region.  We are restructuring State-owned a...More Button

It should be noted that Knock airport and the other regional airports which are not owned by the State have been supported over the years under the regional airports programme, which is aimed at ...More Button

Regional Airports (Continued)

I thank the Deputy for his comments. He has spoken on this issue previously and he holds his opinion passionately. Knock airport is not under threat. It is a fine, successful airport, a fact tha...More Button

A change in policy in respect of Shannon Airport was necessary. For this reason, the Government has put together a plan that should have been put in place many years ago. I advocated for such a...More Button

I will take that message to him.More Button

Penalty Point System

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the introduction of a system of penalty point offences in this country.  Earlier this year, the Department undertook a review of the system to determine whe...More Button

Several adjustments to the current system were recommended. These include an increase in the number of penalty points for speeding, holding a mobile telephone phone while driving and seat belt o...More Button

The Minister accepted the recommended adjustments and primary legislation is now required to give them effect. It is intended, therefore, to introduce a road traffic Bill in the Oireachtas early...More Button

I could not agree more with the Deputy's last point. I also take on board his reference to efforts by previous Governments, in co-operation with the Opposition, in this vital area. We can never b...More Button

Penalty Point System (Continued)

The Minister and I are aware of the claims regarding the alleged quashing of penalty points for road traffic offences. When provided with the documents the Minister forwarded a list of all the all...More Button

On the questions asked by Deputy Ellis, if a learner driver drives without appropriate learner plates, he or she will receive penalty points and on receiving six penalty points, he or she will ha...More Button

Transport Policy

I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 32 together.

  According to the Census in 2011 around 1.14 million people drove to work or were passengers in a car, representing 69% of co...More Button

I have taken the Deputy's comments on board. Everything is being done to ensure the public transport network is maintained and enhanced from a qualitative perspective, in particular, to make custo...More Button

Transport Policy (Continued)

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 help...More Button

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 Gove...More Button

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....More Button

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 pre...More Button

That does not need a response.More Button

Public Transport Provision

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...More Button

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 ...More Button

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 De...More Button

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 issu...More Button

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 improv...More Button

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 ...More Button

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 sc...More Button

Public Transport Provision (Continued)

There needs to be improvement in the commercial angle of CIE and how the individual three subsidiary companies commercially exploit their services. I have worked very closely indeed with CIE and i...More Button

Rail Services

The National Transport Authority was established on 1st December 2009 and responsibility for the provision of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area, such as LUAS Broombridge, now comes...More Button

There has been extensive engagement between the Railway Procurement Agency, Dublin City Council, Dublin Bus and other stakeholders over the last number of years aimed at minimising the constructi...More Button

Funding has been included in my Department's capital allocation to 2016 to cover the cost of commencing the main construction works in 2015 and for pre-construction enabling works in 2013 and 201...More Button

  Question No. 12 answered with Question No. 8.More Button

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NT...More Button

Given the limited availability of Exchequer funding, Luas Broombridge is the only major public transport project to receive funding under the Government’s 5-year capital investment programme for ...More Button

However capital projects such as further Luas extensions will be examined again in 2015 in advance of the next capital programme and projects which are affordable, have strong business cases and ...More Button

Cycling Facilities

This question is about the expansion of the Dublin Bikes scheme. Currently, I understand that the National Transport Authority is working with Dublin City Council  to enable the first phase of thi...More Button

The development of interurban cycle routes is being progressed through the National Cycle Network funding scheme. Just over €7 million has been allocated to fund 16 projects, each in a different Lo...More Button

In terms of developing urban cycle routes, the NTA, under its Sustainable Transport Management Grants Scheme provides funding to relevant local authorities for a range of schemes to benefit cycli...More Button

Providing safe cycle routes is a key factor in encouraging more people to cycle for both transport and leisure. The Government will therefore continue to provide funding either directly or throug...More Button

Roads Maintenance

This Question concerns the maintenance and upkeep of the roads network.

  The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport has responsibility for overall policy and funding in rel...More Button

Departmental Budgets

My Department’s 2013 Budget allocations are published and available on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform website. My Departments Vote 31 Gross allocation for 2013 is €1,658m comprisi...More Button

As part of the Estimates and budgetary processes, my Department consulted with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to the projected requirements for 2013 and the final all...More Button

  Question No. 19 answered with Question No. 8.More Button

Road Safety Strategy

The Road Safety Authority is in the process of preparing the next Road Safety Strategy, which will cover an 8-year period from 2013 to 2020. The aim of the Strategy, like all previous, will be to s...More Button

The Strategy will contain key, definable actions that will seek to achieve this overall aim and to close the gap between Ireland and the best performing countries in the EU. Some of these action...More Button

In general, the new Strategy, while not deflecting attention from road fatalities, will concentrate to a significant extent on serious injuries caused by road collisions.More Button

It is the responsibility of the RSA, in the first instance, to draft the new Strategy and submit it to the Minister for consideration.  I understand that consultation with all relevant stakeholde...More Button

In relation to road side drug testing the new Road Traffic Bill, which was recently approved by Government, includes provision for road side impairment testing which will allow Gardaí to test for...More Button

Sale of Aer Lingus

This question concerns the Government's shareholding in Aer Lingus.More Button

A Steering Group has been established to examine the potential options for the disposal of the State's shareholding in Aer Lingus and the issues that may need to be addressed in the context of th...More Button

NewERA has provided advice to date to the relevant Government Departments, including in relation to valuation of the Government’s shareholding in Aer Lingus. In order to further assist the Inter ...More Button

Road Tolls

This Question is about outlining the income from road tolling.More Button

  The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, has responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The implementation of individual national road schem...More Button

  Bearing in mind the circumstances I have outlined, I am not in a position to provide information in relation to tolling income from these agreements or the dispersal of that income. However, the...More Button

In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I am refering his Question to the NRA for further reply. Please advise Minister Varadkar's private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 worki...More Button

Aviation Sector

My Department's Statement of Strategy 2011-2014 outlines the over-arching goal for the aviation sector, which is to ensure that it supports Ireland's economic and social goals in a safe, competitiv...More Button

Within this context, one of my key priorities for next year is the development of a new civil aviation policy. To launch this initiative the Irish Aviation Authority organised a successful confe...More Button

Building on that start both Minister Varadkar and I will, early next year, launch a six month consultation process which will include an online questionnaire to facilitate the widest possible ran...More Button

We intend publishing a draft policy in quarter four next year and to seek further comments on that by end 2013. Taking account of feedback received, the overall aim is to be in a position to pub...More Button

Finally, we shall continue to act as a champion for improved air access to Ireland, be it increased capacity on existing routes or the development of new routes.More Button

Shannon Airport Facilities

The Deputy’s question relates to comments by Minister Varadkar regarding flights related to the on-going transiting of military personnel through Shannon airport. While they are often described as ...More Button

Where opportunities are presented that would create the conditions for an expansion of such flights, the Government will in principle support such developments.More Button

With regard to the use of Irish airspace by foreign military aircraft, this is a matter for my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and it is governed by the provisi...More Button

Search and Rescue Service

The Deputy' question relates to the development of the action plan relating in response to Value for Money (VFM) reports on the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) and the Marine Survey Office (MSO).More Button

The recommendations of the two reports focus on achieving efficiencies through better utilisation of existing resources and the deployment of resources to areas they believe constitute significan...More Button

My Department is finalising the action plan to respond to the VfM recommendations and it is expected that this will be completed early in the new year and will be submitted to Government then. T...More Button

On foot of this analysis Minister Varadkar advised the House that after careful consideration of the various options available it is his intention to propose that the three Coast Guard co-ordinat...More Button

As part of the action plan Minister Varadkar will propose to address a number of related matters affecting or associated with the delivery of maritime safety and emergency response services highl...More Button