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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 671 - 692
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Primary Care Centres Provision
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Issues
 Header Item Road Safety Issues
 Header Item Road Projects Contracts
 Header Item Tourist Accommodation
 Header Item Public Transport Provision
 Header Item Road Tolls
 Header Item Road Safety Issues
 Header Item Road Safety Issues
 Header Item State Agencies
 Header Item Taxi Regulations
 Header Item Local Authority Services
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Public Transport Provision
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Applications
 Header Item Road Improvement Schemes
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Issues
 Header Item Pension Provisions

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 782 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 671 - 692

Hospital Services

 671. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans for the future delivery of Children's Hospital services in the catchment area of Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50156/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Dolphin report concluded that the existing plan for the Ambulatory and Urgent Care Centre in Tallaght must be revisited in the light of a decision made about the location of the National Children’s Hospital. It is anticipated that most children around the country who require hospital care will receive it closer to their home. It is envisaged that there will be an urgent care centre or urgent care centres based on consideration of the geographical distribution of attendances and acuity of the patient. The location and number of such centres will be given careful consideration and this will be done urgently to reach a decision as soon possible.

Primary Care Centres Provision

 672. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if a site has been identified for a primary health care centre in Gort, County Galway; the position regarding the requisition of a site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50200/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The delivery of the healthcare infrastructure programme is a service issue. Therefore your question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Services

 673. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will consider establishing a Huntington's Disease clinic in Galway University Hospitals which would comprise a neurologist, a HD specialist nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, dietician, social worker and neurophysiologist and significantly assist not only persons who have been diagnosed with the condition but also their families, particularly children who are at risk of inheriting the condition. [50201/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Public Sector Staff Issues

 674. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will outline the opportunities that persons in lower grades of the Public Service have been afforded ion contributing to the reforms of the public service as sought in the Public Service Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50644/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The publication of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (Croke Park Agreement) coincided with a review of the Department that was carried out under the Organisational Review Programme (ORP), a centrally-led review of the capacities of Government Departments. In order to develop the Action Plan arising from the ORP Review, working groups composed of staff from all grades were established to ensure that decisions to address organisational issues were informed by input across all grades. In turn my Department's Action Plan under the Public Service Agreement drew very significantly on the cross-grade input already made to our ORP Review.

A new Partnership Committee was established in 2011 and its role is to actively contribute to the running of the Department through facilitation of effective communication at all levels in the Department. It facilitates the sharing of ideas in relation to many issues of concern to staff. Staff at all levels are encouraged to contact the Committee with any issues that can be dealt with by the Partnership process. The Partnership Committee is currently considering the re-establishment of a Staff Suggestion Scheme to provide a further opportunity for staff to contribute to Departmental reform and other relevant issues.

In addition to the above my Department engages with the Departmental Council, which includes representatives of all relevant trade unions, on a regular basis on all matters relating to the reform of the Department.

Road Safety Issues

 675. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will conduct a review of the location of speed cameras and the inconsistency in speed limits signage in order to improve road safety. [49402/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have no function in relation to the location or operation of safety cameras, which is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

Earlier this year, I announced that a review of speed limits would be undertaken and to that end, my Department established a stakeholder group to progress this work. 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, which has met on a number of occasions since its formation. I expect to receive a report from  the group in the near future. 

Road Projects Contracts

 676. 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 funding will be approved for a bridge (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49423/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area, is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993.  Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

On foot of an application from Westmeath County Council, I recently approved an allocation of approximately €3 million in 2013, 2014 and 2015 towards the construction costs of the Garrycastle Bridge Scheme. This scheme is located at Garrycastle, Athlone, Co Westmeath, and consists of approximately 700 meters of new single carriageway road along the R916. The scheme will cross the railway line from Mullingar to Athlone with a new bridge being built over the railway. The scheme will also include the provision of new cycleways, footpaths and lighting along the proposed road.

This allocation will allow for the construction work on this scheme to proceed, with construction expected to take approximately 12 months. I understand Westmeath County Council has allocated €649,000 towards the project costs in 2013. My Department has contributed almost €3 million to date towards the land purchase and design costs of this project.

I am pleased to announce funding for this scheme which will provide enhanced access between the Blyry Industrial Estate and Garrycastle Estate.  It will also provide safe access for large residential areas to use the route and remove a dangerous bridge. This will complete the upgrade work along the R916.

Tourist Accommodation

 677. 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 his plans to make it obligatory for all guest houses and bed and brerakfasts to be registered with Fáilte Ireland approved agencies in order to ensure a high standard in the provision of tourist accomodation here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49425/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Under the Tourist Traffic Acts 1939-2011, Fáilte Ireland has specific powers and functions in relation to the registration and grading of tourist accommodation.  In accordance with this legislation, Guesthouses are obliged to register, however B&Bs are not.  The matter of mandatory registration of B&Bs has been considered on many previous occasions. However,the view has been that the potential administrative burden and the associated cost of a mandatory registration scheme for B&Bs   - many of whom are small and seasonal businesses - could adversely impact on their viability.   Furthermore, research and international benchmarking by Fáilte Ireland has established that the registration of B&Bs is not standard practice internationally. Countries which are recognised for having a quality B&B product, such as England, Scotland, Wales, France and New Zealand, do not require mandatory registration.

  Fáilte Ireland has been working in recent years with the sector on the establishment of a voluntary classification and categorisation system, supported by a new brand that,over time,should be readily identifiable to domestic and international tourists, allowing them to choose an establishment that meets their individual expectations in terms of facilities and standards.

  It is Fáilte Ireland's view that the best approach to support the development of the sector is to ensure that voluntarily listed and approved B&Bs have advantages over those who choose not to carry Fáilte Ireland accreditation.  In this regard,it is important to point out that unapproved unlisted operators are obliged to comply in the same way as the approved listed sector with requirements in the area of taxation, planning, fire and safety and hygiene. On the other hand, they do not have access to official marketing through Discover Ireland and the Tourist Information Offices, nor do they have access to the various training and business skills initiatives that are available to the approved sector.

Public Transport Provision

 678. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if there has been a recent tendering competition for new bus routes from Dublin to Kells and Cavan and from Dublin to Edenderry, County Offaly and Maynooth, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49514/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The issues raised are matters for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Tolls

 679. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the proposed introduction in the United Kingdom of the Eurovignette system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49515/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I take it the Deputy is referring to the proposals by the United Kingdom Minister for Transport to introduce charges for road use.  I am aware of this, and in particular of the HGV Road User Levy Bill.  It is a matter for any State to introduce road use charges if it wishes, and this is an important option in relation to funding of roads infrastructure, which can benefit both national and international users of the roads in question.

I have been in contact with my counterpart in the United Kingdom, both in response to the initial public consultation and more recently, to point out that the contribution made to date by the Irish Government towards roads infrastructure costs in the United Kingdom (namely in relation to the A5 in Northern Ireland) should be taken into account and some provision therefore be made in relation use of roads by Irish registered HGVs.  I am awaiting his response.

Road Safety Issues

 680. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to establish an additional commercial vehicle testing centre in Inishowen, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49534/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The subject matter of this question is the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority and I have referred the question to them for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Road Safety Issues

 681. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of counties across the country that have a full time road safety officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49536/12]

 682. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if it is his intention that every county council has a full-time road safety officer in the future; his plans for ensuring same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49537/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 681 and 682 together.

The appointment of road safety officers is essentially a matter for each local authority. Under Action 16 of the current Road Safety Strategy, each local authority is required to appoint a full time Road Safety Office to promote road safety. However, in the current economic climate, it is accepted that all local authorities may not be in a position to appoint full time Officers. The matter is being examined, at present, by my Department, the Road Safety Authority and the City and County Managers Association with a view to establishing a network of regional safety officers under the auspices of the Road Safety Authority. The number of officers and their locations will be decided as part of that process.

State Agencies

 683. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide in tabular form the amount currently being spent on, or budgeted for by State agencies under his remit for spending, on the areas of communication, public relations, consultancy, advertising and human resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49660/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The information requested by the Deputy is a matter for the agencies themselves.  I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the various State agencies under my Department's aegis for their response. If the Deputy does not receive a reply from the agencies within ten working days, please advise my private office.

Taxi Regulations

 684. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide the timeframe in which a decision will be made with regarding the transferability of taxi plates from one relative to another,; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49673/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly As proposed in the Taxi Regulation Review Report, it is envisaged that there will be a prohibition on the transfer of small public service vehicle (SPSV) licences. The underlying principle for this proposal is that a licence should determine a person's suitability to carry out a function and it should have no monetary value or be traded on the open market. A legislative provision will be made concerning the prohibition on transfer of such licences in the Taxi Regulation Bill 2012, which is to be published by year-end.

I understand that the NTA is considering the option of how, for the purposes of ensuring the continuity of a taxi business upon the death of the vehicle licence holder, that an application by the next of kin for such a licence can be facilitated.

Local Authority Services

 685. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an assessment of the outcomes that result from the pedestrianisation of main and secondary streets in regional towns in particular for retail and tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49753/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have no function in this matter.  Pedestrianisation is a matter for the local authority in its administrative area. The  assessment of the outcome of pedestrianisation in any individual case would similarly be a matter for the local authority concerned.

Tourism Promotion

 686. 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 request Failte Ireland to support and provide funding to four festivals in County Kerry (details supplied); if he will ask Failte Ireland to take into consideration the importance of these festivals to tourism in the county and the very special effort that they are making for the Gathering in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49760/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The matter raised is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland.  I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply.  Please contact my private office if a reply is not received within ten working days.

Public Transport Provision

 687. 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 passengers who used the Dublin-Carrick-On Shannon, Dublin-Cavan, Dublin-Letterkenny, Dublin-New Ross and The Dublin-Westport Bus Éireann Service for the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49762/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar This is a matter for Bus Éireann 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.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

 688. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when announcements will be made in relation to his Department's National Lottery funding payments for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49865/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring My Department has received over 2,170 applications for funding under the 2012 Sports Capital Programme.  This is the largest number of applications ever received under the Programme.

  Departmental officials are processing all applications and this process will take some time due to the volume of applications received. 

  I expect to be able to announce the list of successful applicants later this year.  All applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application at that stage.

Road Improvement Schemes

 689. 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 anticipated completion date for improvement works currently being carried out on the N86; the timeframe for the total 32 kilometre section; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50008/12]

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.

Tourism Promotion

 690. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the role of the alcohol industry in any aspect of the Gathering Ireland 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50064/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The matter raised is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland.  I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply.  Please contact my private office if a reply is not received within ten working days.

Public Sector Staff Issues

 691. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will outline the opportunities that persons in lower grades of the Public Service have been afforded ion contributing to the reforms of the public service as sought in the Public Service Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50649/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar In 2010 the Department conducted an online consultation survey with all staff for ideas and contributions on cost saving mechanisms and effective and efficient processes within the Department.  A total of 138 individual suggestions were submitted as part of this process. Of these, 37 are directly related to existing actions incorporated in the Department’s Public Service Agreement Action plan, for example: 

  -the review and streamlining of the PQ process.

  -Shared services i.e. payroll, HR & ICT functions between Department and agencies and reducing resources in central divisions as shared services come on-board.

  -Review of overtime costs, making better use of IT and systematic reviews of salary allowances etc. to identify efficiencies and restructure work to reduce costs.

  The remainder of the suggestions made practical proposals for specific implementation measures by Divisions within the Department. The Department has in place a dedicated subgroup of the Department Council Forum who meet on a quarterly basis to discuss and propose updates to the Public Service Agreement Action Plan. 

  In addition, in late 2011 a staff attitudinal survey was conducted from which the results and an implementation plan for the key recommendations were submitted to the Department's Management Board in March 2012.   The ongoing implementation of these recommendations is monitored by the Department's Partnership Committee, which includes representatives of all staff levels in the Department.

Pension Provisions

 692. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar how well funded all semi-State company pension schemes are; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50656/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar With the exception of details in respect of the small number of staff whose pensions are being funded directly by the Exchequer, funding details for semi-State  pension schemes are available in the Annual Reports and Accounts of the relevant agencies, copies of which are normally available from the Dail Library or the relevant website.


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