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 Header Item Written Answers Nos 1647-1664
 Header Item Driving Licence Issues
 Header Item Rail Services
 Header Item State Airports
 Header Item Tourism Industry Issues
 Header Item Ports Development
 Header Item Haulage Industry Cabotage Regulations
 Header Item Rural Transport Programme Issues
 Header Item Search and Rescue Service
 Header Item Coast Guard Services
 Header Item State Airports
 Header Item Air Traffic Control Services
 Header Item Aviation Issues
 Header Item Road Safety Strategy
 Header Item Road Safety Issues
 Header Item Cycling Schemes
 Header Item Capital Programme Expenditure

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 813 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 144 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos 1647-1664

Driving Licence Issues

 1647. 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 negotiations with provincial Canadian authorities to make it easier for Irish citizens living abroad to have their driving licences recognised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37588/13]

 1650. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an update on any arrangements between Ireland and Quebec, Canada regarding driving licences; if he will detail the current arrangement between the two; if he will detail any proposed changes in arrangement between the two; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37701/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1647 and 1650 together.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which is the body responsible for negotiating mutual exchange relationships on driving licences with other jurisdictions, is engaging with the provincial authorities in Canada on this matter.  Canada, as the Deputy may be aware, issues driver licences at provincial rather than national level and each province sets its own driver licensing standards.   Following engagement with the Irish Embassy in Ottowa, a number of provinces in Canada were identified where progress might be made.  It was decided to prioritise Ontario given the large community of Irish people living there.

I understand from the RSA that they have provided the authorities in Ontario with comprehensive details of the driver licensing system in Ireland and that they have received details of the Ontario system from the authorities there.  I gather that there is regular contact through the Irish embassy and that each side is studying and comparing the two licensing systems and seeking clarifications as necessary.  Indications are that there are unlikely to be difficulties in reaching an agreement with Ontario so far as the Irish side is concerned, although of course any agreement must be mutually acceptable.  The RSA is pursuing these matters with a view to reaching an agreement as soon as practicable.  

In addition, the RSA has also engaged, with the help of the Irish Embassy, in a similar process with a number of other licensing authorities in Canada.  Although there has not yet been engagement with the authorities in Quebec, I am keen to explore exchange relationships with all provinces in Canada. 

Rail Services

 1648. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has prepared costings on the amount needed to reopen the Navan, County Meath, to Drogheda, County Louth, rail line for commuters, alongside its current use for Tara Mines; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37658/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) on December 2009, the implementation and development of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as the opening of new rail lines, comes under the remit of the NTA.   

Noting this, I have referred the Deputies question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

State Airports

 1649. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar who is responsible for ensuring that the weighing scales at Dublin Airport are accurate; the number of times they are checked to ensure this accuracy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37684/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The matter raised by the Deputy in relation to weighing scales at Dublin Airport falls within the operational responsibilities of the Dublin Airport Authority and I have no function in the matter. I have referred the question to the company for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten working days.

Question No. 1650 answered with Question No. 1647.

Tourism Industry Issues

 1651. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views from the perspective of the impact on domestic tourism on the fact that pupils at primary and post primary level are now returning to school during the last week of August effectively shutting down the domestic tourism sector for the final week of August; if he has raised the issue with the Department of Education and Skills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37706/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As the Deputy will appreciate, the rules governing the scheduling of the school holiday periods is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills.  In this regard, I am informed that individual schools may use discretionary days, where available, to determine the precise start and end of the school year having regard to the overall requirement of a minimum of 167 teaching days at post-primary level and 183 teaching days at primary level in each academic year. While I understand the concerns expressed by the Deputy of the impact on domestic tourism providers, these are independent decisions made by schools for educational reasons.  While this may lead to some children returning to school in the last week in August, those same children will have other days off during the school year which may allow families the opportunity to take a short break at other times during the year and so provide additional business for the tourism sector during the quieter months.

While domestic tourism is really important, I do not believe that a child's education or the school year should be arranged to suit tourism.

Ports Development

 1652. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will indicate if the Dublin Port Company has decided not to fill in the 52 acres of Dublin Bay. [37734/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Dublin Port Company is the State's most important port and National Ports Policy designates it as a Port of National Significance (Tier 1). The continued commercial development of the Company is a key strategic objective of ports policy.  

In February 2012 Dublin Port Company published its masterplan. The plan outlines a number of development scenarios and future options for infrastructure development over the next 30 years.  

The plan is underpinned by three core principles:

1. Maximisation of usage of existing port lands;

2. Reintegration of the port with the City;

3. Development of the port to the highest environmental standards.

The plan is not intended to be prescriptive but rather represents the Company’s vision of how different development scenarios would impact on its ability to continue to facilitate trade and possible actions the Company might undertake to respond to these challenges.

The plan does refer to a potential need, sometime in the future, to consider reclamation options; however, the plan states explicitly that ‘projects involving reclamation will only be advanced if and when they become necessary and if they can meet exacting planning and environmental protection standards .’

The timing and progression of such infrastructure development is a matter for Dublin Port Company.

Haulage Industry Cabotage Regulations

 1653. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding haulage companies from Germany, Holland, Scotland and Northern Ireland flouting European cabotage legislation which bans foreign hauliers from doing more that three journeys in a country before leaving; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37743/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The enforcement of cabotage legislation is a matter for the Road Safety Authority and the Garda Síochána. I believe that the enforcement authorities have investigated this matter and have put in place a new procedure to ensure that international haulage operators are checked to verify that they are compliant with cabotage regulations.

Rural Transport Programme Issues

 1654. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an assurance that in the reform of rural transport over the coming months any revised plan for County Kerry will ensure and guarantee that all existing routes that cater for the rural population of County Kerry will be maintained and enhanced as is, since the commencement of this service (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37757/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for implementing the restructuring of the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) announced by me on 9 July 2013.  The purpose of the restructuring of the RTP is to protect the provision of rural transport services into the future.

I am advised by the NTA that during the restructuring of the RTP, the priority is to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of existing RTP services, meeting the needs of those affected by social exclusion during this time of change.  In this regard, the NTA's focus is to move the existing RTP services into contracted services with the NTA, whether directly with the operators, or with the fleet owning groups.  At the same time, the NTA will examine existing contracted services to ensure that they are meeting current demands.  Based on the current funding available, the NTA has no plans to modify or reduce specific services.  This includes the services currently provided under the programme within the Kerry region. 

Search and Rescue Service

 1655. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 283 of 17 July 2013, if he has had any discussions or contacts with the RNLI in relation to the requirement for a D Class boat for the Clogherhead, County Louth area; the outcome of these discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37764/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar No discussions with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in relation to the requirement of Clogherhead Coast Guard Unit for a D Class Boat have taken place as the position pertaining to the  Search and Rescue services for the Clogherhead area remain  as outlined in my detailed reply to the Deputy on 17 July 2013.   The Coast Guard Services of my Department will continue to keep the overall situation under review.

Coast Guard Services

 1656. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 287 of 17 July 2013, the steps that have been taken to fill the two outstanding vacancies among radio officers within the Coast Guard Service; if candidates have been identified; if they have been given start dates; if they are now in position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37765/13]

 1657. 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 if he will provide a breakdown of the number of radio officers employed in the rescue co-ordination stations at present and the number that were employed in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.  [37766/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1656 and 1657 together.

The number of Station Officer and Radio Officer Grade III employed in the Irish Coast Guard for the years from 2009 to date are as set out in Table 1 below.  As previously advised, notwithstanding the public services recruitment embargo, my Department is actively managing to maintain the required level of services by utilising 40 radio office posts across the 3 rescue co-ordination stations in Dublin, Malin Head and Valentia.  The Department is currently in discussion with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to the filling of the two outstanding posts of radio officers.

Table 1

PositionAug 20132012201120102009
Station Officer1311131720
Radio Officer Grade III2529272324
Total3840404040
 

State Airports

 1658. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the terms of reference for the Ireland West Airport Knock study group; the membership of the group and the method of selection of same; the number of meetings held to date of the group; the discussions and or engagements he or any senior official has had with the group since its inception; when a final report is expected from the group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37823/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK) Study Group was established, under the Chairmanship of Deputy John O'Mahony, following a meeting of the Airport Board with the Taoiseach,  Minister of State Ring and I. The Study Group members were nominated and agreed following discussions between the airport and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.   The Group comprises a broad range of parties interested in the development of the Airport - representatives of the Airport Board and management, Mayo  County Council, regional Business and Tourism sectors, the Departments of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Finance, Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland.  Under its terms of Reference the Study Group is being asked, inter alia to:

- examine how best the future of the Airport can be secured;

- explore options for the survival and growth of the Airport in terms of increasing passenger numbers, growing the number of flights, and expanding international connectivity

- examine the means by which the Airport can best support industry and tourism in the catchment it serves,

- set out how the airport can be further developed taking account of available funding and competition rules having regard to the implications for other regional airports;

Six meetings of the Study Group have taken place to date and good progress continues to be made. The next  meeting of the Group will be held in October.  It is envisaged that a further meeting of the Group will be necessary in November to complete its work following which a report will be made to the Taoiseach and I. While I have not had any discussions or engagement with the Study Group, my Department is represented on it by a senior official.  

Air Traffic Control Services

 1659. Deputy Jerry Buttimer Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the position regarding air traffic control service levels at Cork Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37871/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Under the provisions of the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993, the IAA is empowered to decide the extent to which it should operate and manage terminal navigation services at any of the three State airports, including Cork Airport.     

  Accordingly, as I have no statutory function in relation to this matter I have referred the Deputy's question to the IAA for direct reply. Please advise my Private Office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.  

Aviation Issues

 1660. Deputy Derek Keating Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if there is any change or changes to condition 7 of the aircraft licence 2003 at Weston Aerodrome, Lucan, County Dublin; and, if so, what is the current reference field length, wingspan and approach speed permitted and, if required, is this information available under the Freedom of Information Acts.  [37879/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar  The issue raised by the Deputy, the licensing conditions of aerodromes, is a matter for the Irish Aviation Authority, an agency within my remit. The Irish Aviation Authority is not a public body within the meaning of the Freedom of Information Acts. I have referred the Deputy's quesiton to the Authority for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Safety Strategy

 1661. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on progress being made by his Department to carry out policy reviews of drug driving legislation and speed limits under the road safety strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37905/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Road Safety Strategy 2013 - 2020 was introduced in March 2013. The Deputy's Question relates to Actions 75 and 90 of that Strategy. The completion date for both these Actions is the fourth quarter of 2014.       

  The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is responsible for reporting progress on Actions in the 2013 - 2020 Strategy. Under Action 110 of the Strategy the RSA must report to me annually on progress in implementing the Actions outlined in the Strategy. The first report will be presented to me for my approval post March 2014. 

Road Safety Issues

 1662. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an update on the review of speed limits nationally; the date on which new guidelines on road signage and speed limits will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37913/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Road Traffic Act 2004 established default speed limits that apply to defined categories of roads and which can only be changed by local authorities through the making of special speed limit bye-laws.   Section 9 of that Act sets out the range of Special Speed Limits that may be set by such authorities through such bye-laws.   

Statutory responsibility for setting Special Speed Limits is vested in the Elected Members of county and city councils. To assist in setting these limits, my Department issued Guidelines for the Application of Special Speed Limits to all local authorities in January 2011, and the onus is on local authorities to take them into account in relation to any special speed limits which they set.

As part of a Direction given by the then Minister in January 2011, all local authorities were requested to undertake an assessment of Special Speed Limits in their functional areas. I do not believe that the local authorities sufficiently engaged with this direction and, in 2012, I announced that a review of speed limits would be undertaken. 

My Department formed a stakeholder group to progress this Review and the Automobile Association, An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority, the National Roads Authority, representatives of local authorities and the National Transport Authority accepted my invitation to participate in the Working Group. As the Deputy will appreciate, this is an issue which requires detailed consideration. I anticipate that the Group will report to me shortly, and while I will give careful consideration to any recommendations contained in their Report, it would be premature for me to speculate at this stage on the manner or timing of their implementation.

Cycling Schemes

 1663. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if an application has been made to his Department to commence work on the greenway from Glenbeigh to Renard greenway old railway line in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37915/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly An application was made by Kerry County Council for funding in respect of the Glenbeigh to Renard greenway under a Seed Funding Scheme established by my Department earlier this year.  The Scheme aims to provide a small amount of start-up financial assistance to local authorities to help with the development of initial proposals for cycle projects, particularly  those projects with the potential to yield a high return on future investment from an economic, tourism and recreational perspective.   

As part of this Scheme, the Department allocated funding of €50,000 to help progress proposals for a cycle way along the the abandoned railway line between Glenbeigh to Renard, Cahersiveen, which is a section of the Ring of Kerry Trail.

It is expected that Kerry County Council will use the funding to appoint specialist engineering consultants to carry out a structural assessment of existing structures on the route and a geotechnical assessment of the ground conditions on the elevated sections of the route as identified in the Study.

Capital Programme Expenditure

 1664. 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 detail by name, location and cost the number of capital projects funded by his Department for each of the past five years to date in tabular form in an area (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37968/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Details of the relevant capital projects funded by my Department are as follows:

Sustainable Transport

Project NameLocationCountyGrant Amount (€)StatusFunding Initiative
2012

Cork County Council
Bandon; Fermoy; Kinsale; YoughalCork60,000completedActive Travel Towns Development of Walking and Cycling Strategies 2012
2013

Cork to Kinsale
Specialist structural engineering evaluation of Chetwynd and Halfway Viaducts and Ballinhassig railway tunnelCork30,000OngoingNCN Seed Funding 2013


Maritime Transport 

Grants for remedial works at Kinsale Harbour to facilitate transfer to local authority control.
 

Year
 

Paid to
 

Amount €
 

2008
 

Kinsale Harbour Commissioners
 

349,795
 

2009
 

Kinsale Harbour Commissioners
     

401,731
 

2010
 

Kinsale Harbour Commissioners
 

403,453
 

2011
 

Kinsale Harbour Commisioners
 

1,271,671
 

2012
 

Cork County Council
 

1,021,117
 

Sport

Details on Sports Capital Programme allocations in 2012 and in previous years are available on the Department's website. There have been no Sports Capital Programme allocations to organisations in Co. Cork in 2013.

Roads

In relation to national road projects, as Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The construction, improvement and maintenance of individual national roads is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Details of allocations for regional and local road projects are available from the Dáil Library.

Tourism

With regard to capital expenditure on tourism-related projects, the matter raised is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland.

Noting the above in relation to the Roads and Tourism projects, I have referred the Deputy’s questions to the National Roads Authority (NRA ) and Fáilte Ireland for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.  


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