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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1243 - 1261
 Header Item Cancer Incidence
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Generic Drugs Substitution
 Header Item Medical Card Reviews
 Header Item Driving Tests
 Header Item Regional Road Network
 Header Item Job Initiatives
 Header Item Road Projects Expenditure
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item The Gathering Initiatives
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Electricity Transmission Network
 Header Item Bus Éireann Stations
 Header Item Dublin Bus Services

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 819 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 111 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1243 - 1261

Cancer Incidence

 1243. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of persons here who are diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer each year; if any awareness raising campaigns have been undertaken in relation to the disease; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [47044/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Fewer than 20 cases of invasive peritoneal cancer are diagnosed on average per year in Ireland. Cancers of the peritoneum are most likely to arise from secondary spread from another intra-abdominal cancer. Because of this, and the low incidence involved, it is not proposed to undertake an awareness campaign focused on peritoneal cancer. Meanwhile, efforts to raise cancer awareness more broadly will continue.

  Question No. 1244 answered with Question No. 1019.

  Question No. 1245 answered with Question No. 1199.

Departmental Expenditure

 1246. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide in tabular form the partial year and the full year monetary effect of his Department's budget 2014 reductions to expenditure.  [47079/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The gross current budget for the Department of Health (Vote 38) for 2014 is almost €212m, a reduction of €20m on the 2013 allocation of €232m.

  A detailed breakdown of the reductions in 2014 for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Health and certain other services administered by that Office, including miscellaneous grants, will be provided in the Revised Estimates Volume 2014 which is currently being prepared.

Generic Drugs Substitution

 1247. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the steps he will take to ensure persons who cannot take generic drugs for epilepsy continue to receive the medication they are currently entitled to under all schemes in which the State has a role; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [47086/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, which came into operation on the 24th of June, will introduce a system of generic substitution and reference pricing. Under the Act, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) is responsible for the assessment for interchangeability of medicines. The IMB will review an initial 20 active substances, which equates to approximately 1,500 individual medicines. They include statins, proton pump inhibitors, angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers.

The first List of Interchangeable Medicines, containing groups of atorvastatin products, was published by the IMB on the 7th August. The second and third lists containing groups of esomeprazole and rosuvastatin products were published on the 20th and 24th September, respectively. The fourth and fifth lists containing groups of omeprazole and pravastatin products have also been published (on the 11th and 22nd October, respectively). The IMB will publish subsequent lists for other groups of medicines on an ongoing basis.

It is worth noting that there are no Anti-Epilepsy Drugs (AEDs) in the initial 20 active substances to be assessed for interchangeability by the IMB.

Under the legislation, generic substitution is not permitted until the products have been assessed for interchangeability in accordance with the criteria set out in the legislation and the IMB has decided to add the products to the List of Interchangeable Medicines.

At present, therefore, pharmacists are not permitted to substitute AEDs and must dispense the products as prescribed.

  Question No. 1248 answered with Question No. 1019.

Medical Card Reviews

 1249. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the basis on which a saving of €11 million was estimated arising from the Budget 2014 decision to revoke medical cards awarded on the basis of returning to work having been long-term unemployed; his estimate of the number of medical cards that will be revoked as a result of this measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [47104/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White As part of Budget 2014, the Government decided to change the rules, whereby persons who have been unemployed for 12 months retain their medical card for three years on returning to work. In this case, the medical card is retained by the person, and his or her dependents, for the three years irrespective of their means or income. The savings are based on an estimate of the number of persons expected to leave the Live Register in 2014 that would fall within this category.

  The following additional information was provided under Standing Order 40A

  As part of Budget 2014, the Government decided to change the rules under which persons who have been unemployed for 12 months retain their medical card for 3 years on returning to work and persons who take up approved training schemes retain their medical card for the duration of the scheme regardless of their means.

  In future, it is proposed that persons who have been employed for 12 months will be granted a GP Visit Card on returning to work or taking up approved training schemes, irrespective of their means. Such cards will expire after 12 months or the end of the training scheme if sooner (unless the person is entitled to continue to hold the card based on the standard means test).

 The savings target of €11 million was set by the Government having regard to the number of persons who are expected to leave the Live Register in 2014. At this point, it is not possible to provide a reliable estimate of the number of persons who are likely to be affected by the proposed rule change. This will only become clear following a detailed assessment by the HSE of the circumstances of each individual within the cohort concerned. It is possible - indeed likely - that some of those persons will continue to qualify for medical cards on the basis of the standard means test. It is also possible that some persons will continue to qualify for medical cards on a discretionary basis having regard to the particular medical or social circumstances of themselves or their dependents.

Driving Tests

 1250. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the current average waiting time for a driving test in Waterford City and Dungarvan, County Waterford.  [45778/13]

 1251. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the current average driving test pass rate in Waterford City and Dungarvan, County Waterford.  [45779/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1250 and 1251 together.    

  The subject of the questions is a matter for the Road Safety Authority (RSA). I have referred the Questions to the Authority and asked them to respond  directly to the Deputy. If a reply has not been received within 10 days the Deputy should contact my office.

Regional Road Network

 1252. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will outline in tabular form the amount of funding provided by his Department to Westmeath County Council for road construction, improvement and realigment schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46689/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Details of the regional and local road grant payments to county councils including Westmeath County Council are outlined in the regional and local road grant payment booklets which are available in the Dáil Library.  Details of the 2013 regional and local road grant allocations to each county council are also available in the Dáil library.    

  With regard to national roads, details of the allocations to each local authority are also available in the Dáil library.  However, details of the actual drawdown of funding for these roads is a matter for the National Roads Authority.  

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

Job Initiatives

 1253. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide for the use of social or local employment clauses in future capital projects under his Department’s remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47242/13]

 1292. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide for the use of social or local employment clauses in future capital projects under his Department's remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47014/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1253 and 1292 together.

As my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, has advised the House, the use of a social clause requiring a contractor to recruit a certain percentage of those employed on a public works construction site from the ranks of the long term unemployed is being piloted on a limited number of schools projects under the Devolved Schools Programme being administered by the National Development Finance Agency on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

It is my understanding that once this pilot programme is completed an evaluation will be prepared and submitted to the Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC) for consideration in the context of their widespread use. 

In relation to the potential application of such a clause within my Department's capital programme, I can confirm that the National Roads Authority (NRA) who are responsible for the largest portion of the capital programme, intend incorporating a social employment clause into the Roads Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) that commenced procurement in 2013. The specific projects envisaged are the N25 New Ross Bypass PPP and the M11 Gorey Enniscorthy PPP.   The NRA will of course take account of the evaluation of the pilot programme.

Should the inclusion of social clauses be deemed appropriate on a wider scale, other elements of my Department's capital programme could also be considered, including the development of the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, Blanchardstown.

Road Projects Expenditure

 1254. 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 the total amount spent to date on the A5 western corridor link; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45617/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Irish Government has contributed £22 million to date towards the A5 project.  In addition in 2011 the Irish Government undertook to provide £25 million in each of 2015 and 2016 towards the project.  The A5 project was discussed at the last NSMC Transport Sectoral meeting in April this year and will be discussed at the next meeting scheduled for November.

In the interim officials from my Department and the National Roads Authority attended a meeting of the Cross Border Road Projects Steering Group on the 2nd September 2013.  At that meeting the Northern Ireland officials indicated that work on a revised environmental assessment for the project was progressing.

Road Projects Status

 1255. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when he expects work to commence on the construction of the M18-M17 Gort to Tuam motorway; the funding model being used that has been agreed with the National Roads Authority and other relevant stakeholders; if a contractor has been identified and, if so, who; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45638/13]

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.     

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

Road Safety

 1256. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the rationale for the increase in the cost of the certificate of roadworthiness in particular the road safety levy for commercial vehicles; if he has taken into account the rising costs on commercial operators, mainly petrol and diesel, when considering whether the fee should be capped at this amount; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45741/13]

 1293. 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 the reason the frequency of testing of commercial vehicles was increased recently; the basis for the increase; his views that this is adding another cost to the associated businesses who use these vehicles; if he will provide details of the way this testing frequency compares to other EU member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47022/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1256 and 1293 together.

The arrangements for commercial vehicle testing in the State were comprehensively reviewed in 2007 and the Government decided that the model for delivery of testing by private operators would continue and that the authorisation and supervision of commercial vehicle testing would be centralised under the auspices of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to ensure consistency of testing across the country. The Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Act 2012 provides the powers to the RSA to undertake this function.  

The RSA is currently in the process of rolling out major reforms in the testing system, which will deliver an enhanced service for the customer. Apart from safer roads for all road users, the reforms  are designed to level the competitive playing field for commercial vehicle operators by reducing non-compliance with testing and roadworthiness requirements. The new system will deliver several administrative benefits for operators, including online booking systems, reducing vehicle paperwork to be brought to the test and centralised issuing of the certificate of roadworthiness.

No increase in testing frequency has taken place as a result of the reforms. Under EU law, commercial vehicle owners are obliged to test their vehicles annually and it is an offence to use commercial vehicles on public roads without a certificate of roadworthiness (CRW).

From 7 October last, a new annual fee, which includes a road safety levy, was introduced. The commercial vehicle reform process has been worked on since 2007 and there has not been any increase since then. The RSA consulted industry on the reforms and the planned road safety levy in November 2011 and the actual levy is lower than that proposed in the public consultation.  There have been a number of awareness raising measures of the reforms over the summer months and the new fees were advertised in national newspapers on 3 October 2013 and are available in full on the RSA website.

The levy is also funding enhanced supervision, enforcement and compliance measures being introduced at the roadside and at operator premises. A risk rating system is also being introduced so that roadside enforcement activity is targeted at higher risk operators ensuring that compliant operators are less likely to experience disruption to their daily business.

The Gathering Initiatives

 1257. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the measures he proposes to build on the impact of The Gathering in future years in view of the fact that a recent analysis of the latest United States census shows there are almost seven times more Irish-Americans than the entire population of Ireland. [45781/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar This year will be a record year in terms of visitors from the United States and Canada.  

The Gathering Ireland 2013 aimed primarily to generate additional tourist numbers and revenue in 2013.  However, it also aimed to have a longer-term impact.  We set a target of 325,000 visitors and we are well on the way to meeting that. Air capacity from the US for the summer peak was up more than 20% this year, with 270,000 extra seats on new and existing routes - and further growth is in prospect for next year. But The Gathering was never just about visitor numbers and revenues.  It is also about community pride and strengthening links with the diaspora. 

 The Gathering helped to strengthen existing links with Irish communities abroad and create new connections.  Tourism Ireland will continue to work with the diaspora networks and will include this global family as part of its future promotional work overseas.  The networks and databases created through The Gathering will also remain as a valuable asset to Irish tourism.

 A number of Gathering related events and festivals have already been identified as having potential to run again next year or in future years. Similarly, the success of the Emerald Isle Classic college football game, which was a key part of the marketing campaign for the Gathering, is being built on with the game between Penn State – with the largest alumni association in the US - and the University of Central Florida in Croke Park.  

The Gathering also made a vital contribution to the local community. The Gathering network also provided extensive training to more than 2,500 people and these community engagement skills will endure and be available to support other local events.

Recently Minister Ring visited the United States to attend the Milwaukee Irish Festival which draws over 500,000 people and Tourism Ireland will do more in this space. Last month, I visited California to promote the new routes between Dublin and San Francisco that will start next April.

 It should be noted, however, that our research shows that a majority of US visitors to Ireland are not of Irish heritage and the population of the US is becoming more Latino and Asian so we need to ensure that we promote Ireland as a destination to all Americans.

EU Funding

 1258. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the projects that will be prioritised in view of the European Commission’s agreement to triple transport infrastructure financing to €26 billion from 2014 to 2020 to create a unified trans-European transport network under the connecting Europe facility of the multi-annual financial framework.  [45782/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The funding available under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for transport within the Multi Annual Framework is scheduled to be €26.2 billion of which €11.3 billion will be allocated specifically for cohesion Member States. The remaining €14.9 billion available to all Member States is an increase of over 50% on the current financial Transport European Networks allocation for transport over the period 2007-2013. It will not be trebled.  

Funding under the CEF will be available largely for projects on the defined Core Network of the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T). There are strict criteria for inclusion in this. In Ireland’s case, the Core Network consists of the road rail axis of Cork-Dublin-Belfast (with link to Shannon Foynes Port), the ports of Dublin, Cork and Shannon-Foynes, and Dublin and Cork Airports.

 A call for proposals is expected in 2014 and my Department and relevant State companies are in the process of identifying potential projects that may be suitable for CEF funding. However, I should point out that the funding available for eligible works projects under the CEF will require matching funds from national sources.  The EU co-funding to be provided under CEF will vary depending on the nature of the works from up to 10% in some cases to up to 50% for some categories of works. Where matching funding will be required from the Exchequer, the availability of such funding is very constrained in the present economic circumstances and this will obviously have a major bearing on the ability to put forward projects under the CEF.

Electricity Transmission Network

 1259. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the impact of the proposed pylons and overhead power lines on the tourism industry in south Tipperary in view of the fact that Ireland's scenery has been a cornerstone of international tourism marketing campaigns for decades, and a Fáilte Ireland visitor attitudes survey in 2007 showed that 80% of overseas holiday makers to Ireland rated scenery as an important reason for their trips, followed by the natural unspoilt environment at 74%; his views regarding the future direction of tourism in Ireland and County Tipperary should pylons and overhead power lines be erected; his views on whether such actions will have a massive negative impact on walking tours within Ireland which are an important aspect of tourism in County Tipperary; if his Department has made a submission to EirGrid's gridlink project consultation process highlighting the possible negative impact on these important industries; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45826/13]

 1279. 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 if he or any of the agencies under his aegis have had consultations with EirGrid in relation to the ongoing grid projects; the impact of pylons on the landscape of many scenic areas and the negative consequences of such impact for tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46628/13]

 1281. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he or his officials have had discussions with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and-or departmental officials on the possible impact of the proposed new EirGrid high voltage power line systems on the tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46747/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1259, 1279 and 1281 together.

My Department and I work closely with other Government Departments on all aspects of policy which affect the tourism industry including for example the National Landscape Strategy Steering Committee, under my colleague, Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. In addition, Fáilte Ireland is a prescribed body under Planning and Development legislation for all planning applications which may have a significant impact from a tourism perspective.  Consequently, consideration of the impact of specific developments on tourism is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland, and I have referred the Deputy's Question to the agency for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Bus Éireann Stations

 1260. 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 the future of the office in the bus station in Killarney, County Kerry (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45852/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The issue raised is a matter for Bus Eireann 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.

Dublin Bus Services

 1261. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of routes operated by Dublin Bus at 1 October 2011, 1 October 2012 and 1 October 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45864/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The issue raised is a matter for Dublin Bus in conjunction with the National Transport Authority 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.


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