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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 99-117
 Header Item Road Safety Issues
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Public Transport Issues
 Header Item Arthur's Day Event
 Header Item Women's Participation in Sport
 Header Item Driving Licence Issues
 Header Item Public Transport Issues
 Header Item State Airports
 Header Item Park and Ride Facilities
 Header Item National Toll Roads
 Header Item Sports Strategy

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 815 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 99-117

  Question No. 99 answered with Question No. 97.

Road Safety Issues

 100. 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 action he is taking to increase awareness of cyclists among motorists. [40903/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Promotion of road safety awareness is a matter for the Road Safety Authority, and I have therefore forwarded the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Road Network

 101. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide details on the recent launch of an assessment from the national road network of the need for a new road to the port of Foynes, County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40435/13]

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 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.  Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

  Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 63.

Sports Capital Programme Expenditure

 103. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the criteria for the awarding of sports grants from his Department; the total expenditure of his Department on sports grants to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40820/13]

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 applied 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 Minister Varadkar and 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.

To date in 2013 €7.6m has been paid out to SCP grantees.

  Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 72.

Public Transport Issues

 105. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will nationalise bus stops and bus stop signage in the Dublin region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40882/13]

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) in December 2009, and in accordance with the Dublin Transport Authority (DTA) Act 2008 the Authority may designate any bus stop, bus stand, or bus station in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), to be a shared facility. At present bus stops in the GDA are owned by bus operators. Accordingly, only buses owned by the relevant bus operator may stop at a bus stop. I understand from the NTA that this arrangement has resulted in the unnecessary proliferation of bus stops. In addition there is no consistency in the design of, and the information displayed, at bus stops. The DTA Act 2008 empowers the NTA to require bus operators in the GDA to share their bus stops with other bus operators, subject to certain requirements including the payment of compensation. The Taxi Regulation Bill, which is currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas, provides to extend this function to the rest of the State.

Arthur's Day Event

 106. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the Arthur's Day event in view of attempts by a company (details supplied) to market it as a tourist event and an expression of Irish culture. [40877/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department's role in relation to tourism is primarily concerned with national policy and the State Tourism agencies, under the aegis of the Department, deal with the operation and administration of that policy. In common with thousands of other events taking place in Ireland this year, it is listed on the Discover Ireland websites but the State tourism agencies have confirmed that they have no involvement in "Arthur's Day".  However in light of the considerable public comment on it in light of public order and health concerns, I decided to attend a number of events associated with it in Dublin in a personal capacity. Based on my experience it was much the same as any Saturday night in Dublin and was enjoyed by many thousands of people, be they local or tourists. As with any such event, the vast majority of people enjoy themselves without causing harm and I do not believe that it is appropriate that the majority should be penalised or have aspersions cast on them because of the bad behaviour of a few.

  Question No.107 answered with Question No. 63.

  Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 64.

Women's Participation in Sport

 109. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the relatively low number of women participating in sports; the initiatives he is taking to rectify that imbalance; and the strategies that exist to encourage more women to participate in sport. [40895/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am pleased to say that recent figures provided to me by the Irish Sports Council as part of their interim results from the first six months of data collected for the 2013 Irish Sports Monitor indicate that, for participation levels by gender, it is females that are more likely to have increased their sporting participation compared to 2011 figures. In particular, the interim figures indicate that participation by females aged between 35 and 44 has increased from 34% in 2011 to 44% in 2013. This is very welcome news and indicates that the strategies that are in place to encourage female participation in sport are working.    

The Irish Sports Council, which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body with responsibility for the promotion, development and coordination of sport.  This includes responsibility for the Women in Sport Programme, which is aimed at increasing female participation in sport. I have referred the Deputy's question to the Council for further information in relation to the strategies for increasing female participation in sport.  I would ask the Deputy to inform my office if a reply is not received within 10 days.

Driving Licence Issues

 110. 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 if he has met with or plans to meet with representatives of the photo ID industry to discuss their concerns regarding the displacement of jobs following changes in the driver licensing process. [40906/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Under the terms of the Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Act 2012, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is the national driver licensing authority as of January of 2013. The RSA designed the new centralised driver licensing system around a central unit within the Authority and three outsourced contracts. The contracts include one for a front office, which engages with the public; a second contract for a back office, to process applications; and a third contract for the production of the plastic card licence.   

The requirement for photo ID under the new system is that it should comply with SAFE 2 standards.  I understand that, in its request for tenders for the front office, the RSA asked tenderers to propose the most effective method of photo capture.  All tenderers suggested digital capture on site.  The tender process is now concluded and contracts have been signed. Neither I nor my Department had any role in the tender process and, as such, there was no rationale for meeting with representatives of businesses involved in photo ID.  The RSA is a State agency and has a duty to design processes to provide a maximum of efficiency, security and value for money for the public.

Public Transport Issues

 111. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to introduce a framework for assessment of any proposed policy change by public transport companies which would ensure that the social responsibility of these companies are upheld and service is maintained to an acceptable standard in all cases. [40912/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar This is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days. Notwithstanding the NTA's statutory responsibilities, the Government recognises the need for the CIÉ companies to respond to the current challenges it faces. I and my colleague Minister Kelly and Departmental officials have been engaged almost constantly over the past 18 months in dealing with the financial situation in CIÉ and the companies to ensure a return to financial stability in order that they can continue to provide an essential service to the public.  

As a general principle, efficiencies in operational costs should, in the first instance, be examined in preference to fare increases and service reductions. While a recovery in passenger numbers could increase company revenues, all concerned in my Department and the NTA must focus on identifying key public transport priorities in our cities and across the country. In turn, the PSO public transport service providers will have to achieve greater efficiency and cost effectiveness based on a realistic assessment of the scope and level of contracted services.

State Airports

 112. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on discussions with the management of Ireland West Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40806/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Recent discussions with the management of Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK) have taken place through the Study Group, which comprises a broad range of parties interested in the development of the Airport and 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 me. The Group is, inter alia, examining how best the future of the Airport can be secured; exploring options for the survival and growth of the Airport and examining how the Airport can best support industry and tourism in the catchment it serves. They are considering how the airport can be further developed taking account of available funding and competition rules having regard to the implications for other regional airports. Work by the Group is ongoing.  Its next meeting will be held in October with  a further meeting planned for November. When its work is complete the Group will report to the Taoiseach and myself.

  Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 89.

Park and Ride Facilities

 114. 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 account for the lack of public park and ride facilities as part of the Luas cross-city project which will be constructed shortly; his views on whether this may hinder the overall aim of reducing the numbers of persons commuting by car; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40876/13]

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) in December 2009, the implementation and development of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as Luas light rail projects, comes under the remit of the NTA. Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

National Toll Roads

 115. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the current contractual arrangements pertaining to the East Link toll bridge in Dublin; his plans to further expand the capacity of the bridge and its surrounding roads; if he foresees the ending of tolls on the East Link toll bridge in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40818/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The East Link toll bridge was opened in October 1984.  It was built on foot of an agreement between Dublin City Council and NTR and therefore my Department has no function in the matter.  You may wish to contact Dublin City Council directly on the matter.

  Question No. 116 answered with Question No. 97.

Sports Strategy

 117. 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 his views on the need for a national strategy for sport across all Government Departments; if he has given such a strategy any consideration; and if he or his officials have had any discussions with other Departments, in particular the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills, on creating such a strategy. [40900/13]

 138. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has had discussions with the Department of Education and Skills regarding joint initiatives that could be taken between the two Departments to improve the level of PE classes here, particularly in view of the findings by Eurydice, the EU’s education information network that in both absolute and proportionate terms, Ireland has fewer hours of compulsory PE classes than any other EU member; his views on whether children here are spending enough time participating in physical education, both in school and outside. [40898/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 138 together.

A draft National Sports Facilities Strategy was published as a discussion document on my Department’s website last year.  The draft strategy is being incorporated into a broader policy document for Irish sport taking account of the cross-sectoral nature of sport across a number of Government Departments.

In addition, one of the commitments in Healthy Ireland - the Government Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025 is to develop a plan to promote increased physical activity levels across the population.  A cross-sectoral working group, which will be co-chaired by the Department of Health and my Department, has been established to develop this plan. It will provide a strong focus for modifying unhealthy life habits and promoting awareness of the benefits of physical activity, not just for health, but also in a wider socioeconomic context.  The group, which met for the first time on 12 September 2013, has agreed that the Plan will focus on operational issues to encourage greater participation in, and greater recognition of the importance of, physical activity.


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