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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 36-44
 Header Item Driving Licence Issues
 Header Item Community Involvement Scheme
 Header Item Harbour Authorities Staff
 Header Item Tourism Industry Issues
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Issues
 Header Item Civil Aviation Regulation

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 803 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 36-44

  Question No. 36 answered with Question No. 23.

Driving Licence Issues

 37. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will intervene to establish the reason the Road Safety Authority will not accept hard copy photographs for the issuing of new driver licences. [22674/13]

 89. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he is satisfied with the reasons put forward by the Road Safety Authority not to accept hardcopy Garda certified photographs for the issuing of new driving licences. [22675/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 89 together.

The new national driver licensing system under the Road Safety Authority (RSA) involves three outsourced elements, overseen by a 'specialist unit' based in the RSA headquarters in Ballina.  The three outsourced elements are: a card production facility, a front office for engaging with the customer, and a back office to process applications. This system will not be fully up and running until September of this year.  In the meantime, the Motor Tax Offices continue to perform front office functions on behalf of the RSA.  During this transition period, applicants can still provide their photos as heretofore.

Once the new system is fully operational, there will be a different system for providing photo ID.  The capture of the photograph is included in the fee for the licence, and the SAFE2 ID will be implemented, at which point the only option will be the digital photo taken at the front office network.

I understand from the RSA that when it published the Request for Tenders for the front office contract they asked tenderers to put forward a preference for scanning or digital capture of photographs.  All three tenderers opted for digital capture, as it is the most effective, secure and efficient process. 

The operation of the tender processes was a matter for the RSA, and I had no involvement in it.  The contractors for the front office, and the back office and card producer, have already been procured. 

Community Involvement Scheme

 38. Deputy Helen McEntee Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an update on the newly created community involvement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22960/13]

 47. Deputy Helen McEntee Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the total value of CIS applications and a breakdown on a county basis; when a decision will be made on the allocation of funds and the amount of funding that will be allocated. [22959/13]

 60. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the total value of CIS applications and a breakdown per county; when a decision will be made on allocation of funds; and the amount of funding that will be allocated. [22673/13]

 73. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the total number of CIS applications per county and the cost of same; the amount of funding that will be allocated; and when an announcement may be expected. [22769/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 38, 47, 60 and 73 together.

  In February this year, my Department launched a pilot Community Involvement Scheme which will be based on private contributions towards works on local and regional roads within the range of 20% to 50% depending on the amount and nature of the community contribution.  This enables works to be carried out on less prioritised  roads sooner than would have been otherwise possible.

  My Department recently received applications from 25 county councils and 1 city council for funding under this scheme of grants.  All of these applications are being assessed in my Department and it is hoped to announce the allocations to local authorities shortly.  The final allocation will not be known until all of the applications have been fully assessed.

  Details of the number and cost of applications received from each local authority are outlined in the table below:

Local Authority Number of Applications Overall Cost of Applications - € Allocation sought from Dept. - €
Carlow County Council 13 274,186 191,930
Cavan County Council 54 1,299,575 1,039,590
Clare County Council 26 717,527 574,022
Cork County Council 28 842,506 674,004
Donegal County Council 8 494,600 367,220
Galway County Council 53 1,016,840 508,333
Kerry County Council 9 324,899 259,919
Kildare County Council 2 50,675 40,540
Kilkenny County Council 7 432,580 346,064
Laois County Council 14 303,475 243,121
Leitrim County Council 15 436,440 348,832
Limerick County Council 22 463,200 369,810
Longford County Council 2 64,904 51,923
Louth County Council 21 741,650 593,320
Mayo County Council 45 1,804,280 999,640
Meath County Council 11 1,937,335 1,549,868
North Tipperary County Council 36 1,222,949 978,359
Offaly County Council 3 59,950 42,970
Roscommon County Council 12 190,380 151,879
Sligo County Council 3 293,000 213,000
South Tipperary County Council 21 1,033,625 800,380
Waterford County Council 2 380,000 304,000
Westmeath County Council 10 301,100 211,780
Wexford County Council 9 654,092 398,813
Wicklow County Council 1 160,000 80,000
Waterford City Council 1 15,000 12,000
Total 428 15,514,768 11,351,317

Harbour Authorities Staff

 39. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his attention has been drawn to problems with the pension fund of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour company in view of the fact that the workforce have raised concerns regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22944/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company operates a defined benefit pension scheme. As is common across the broader State commercial sector, the State commercial port companies, including Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, traditionally offered their employees membership of defined benefit pension schemes. All port companies have now closed their defined benefit schemes to new members and instead new employees are offered membership of defined contribution arrangements.

As recognised in the National Pensions Framework, there are "significant problems with the typical current design for funded defined benefit schemes". The defined benefit scheme in operation at Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company shares the problems of these schemes generally.  

As reported in the Company's most recently published accounts for 2011 the scheme was underfunded. The 2012 accounts will not be published until later in the year but I would expect the position in relation to the funding status of the scheme to remain unchanged.  

Underfunded schemes must engage with the Pensions Board and prepare a funding proposal in line with the requirements of the Pensions Acts. I understand that the Company is currently preparing its proposal to the Board in line with this statutory requirement.

Tourism Industry Issues

 40. Deputy Tom Hayes Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the tourism performance in 2013 to date and his expectations for the remainder of 2013. [22765/13]

 46. 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 his plans to address the fact that the number of nights spent in Ireland by overseas travellers decreased by 4.7% in 2012, down from 50.3 million to 47.9 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22858/13]

 48. Deputy Joe O'Reilly Information on Joe O'Reilly Zoom on Joe O'Reilly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the tourism performance to date in 2013; his expectations for the remainder of 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22688/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 40, 46 and 48 together.

Figures published by the CSO show that there were over 6.5 million overseas visits to Ireland in 2012 representing a minor increase (0.2%) on the 2011 total. It should be noted that the number of core tourism visits grew strongly with holiday trips up by 3.8% and business trips up by 7.7% compared to 2011. While overall bednights fell in 2012, this was primarily due to a fall of nearly 10% in numbers staying with friends or relatives.  The number of overseas hotel bednights, the most valuable in terms of revenue and jobs, actually grew by 13% in 2012.

I am pleased that the positive trend has continued into 2013 suggesting that the Gathering Ireland 2013 is having a real impact. The most recent figures from the CSO show very strong growth of 7.4% for the first quarter of 2013 compared to 2012, an increase of over 86,000 extra trips. All of our main overseas markets have shown growth in the first quarter with overseas visits from Mainland Europe up 13%, visits from Great Britain up 1.4%, visits from North America up 16.7%, while visits from the rest of the world grew by 5.4%.

The overall target  for the year of The Gathering was to increase the number of overseas visits by 325,000. The figures for the first quarter suggest that we are well on target to achieve and even exceed this as the increase to date is over 25% of the total increase targeted. The overall sentiment for travel to Ireland is good  with particularly encouraging signs for visit numbers from Mainland Europe and the USA, supported by significant growth in transatlantic air access for the peak summer period. Tourism Ireland will continue to roll-out a major consumer marketing campaign to promote Ireland and "The Gathering Ireland 2013" in all our key markets and ensure our targets will be achieved.   

  Question No. 41 answered with Question No. 28.

Departmental Agencies Issues

 42. Deputy Heather Humphreys Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the Employment Control Framework figures for each of the agencies under the aegis of his Department at the end of 2012; the expected figure for 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22866/13]

 69. Deputy Heather Humphreys Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he is satisfied that the reduction of head count within the agencies of his Department governed by the Employment Control Framework is generating the required pay savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22867/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 69 together.   

  The published Revised Estimates Volume (REV) for 2013 outlines the resourcing details on a Programme Level for both the Department and the Agencies under its aegis as set out in the table below.  As my Department are currently engaged in discussions with the individual Agencies on their respective Employment Control Framework (ECF) targets, I am not in a position to provide the details on each individual Agency ECF target for 2013 at this juncture.  The Department has written to each Agency about the targets and the consequential reduction in payroll allocations and has highlighted that the achievement of both payroll savings and numbers reduction is a key element of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the joint EU – IMF programme for Ireland.    

  Table 1

  The staff number for the Commission for Aviation Regulation, as non exchequer financed non-commercial Agency, is not included in above. 

Programme Bodies Included 2012 Staff Resources (Outturn) 2013 Staff Resources (Proposed)
Programme A - Civil Aviation Department 48 45
Programme B - Land Transport Department, Medical Bureau of Road Safety, Road Safety Authority, National Transport Authority, National Roads Authority,Railway Safety Commission 687 647
Programme C - Maritime Transport & Safety Department 213 195
Programme D - Sports & Recreation Services Department,Irish Sports Council, National Sports Campus Development Authority 77 71
Programme E - Tourism Services Department, Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland 551 496
Total   1,576 1,454

  Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 9.

Civil Aviation Regulation

 44. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the progress that has been made on the development of a new civil aviation policy; if such a policy will take cognisance of the issues affecting residents who live adjacent to small airfields and the regulations needed to protect their quality of life; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22958/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar This question relates to the development of a new civil aviation policy.

A consultation paper on the development of a new civil aviation policy was published on my Department's website on 1 March this year inviting submissions from stakeholders and interested parties by 30 June 2013.  Following receipt of submissions a draft National Aviation Policy Statement will be issued in the second half of this year, with a view to a final policy document being published in early 2014.

The consultation paper covers eight broad areas: Airports, Air Services, Regulation and Governance, Aircraft Leasing and Finance, Aerospace, Education and Training, General Aviation and Sustainability. The issue of airport noise is covered in the Sustainability section. The range of issues set out in the consultation document is my no means an exhaustive list and I look forward to hearing the views of all interested parties during the consultation.  

If the Deputy, or his constituents, have particular issues that they believe should be considered within the new policy, I would encourage them to make a submission by deadline.


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