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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 225-231
 Header Item Penalty Point System
 Header Item Road Improvement Schemes
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Regional Road Network
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme Issues
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Departmental Bodies

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 225-231

Penalty Point System

 225. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on whether penalty points should be introduced for driving with bald, effectively illegal tyres, which is already an offence and is the number one fail item in the National Car Test; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28139/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am considering extending the list of road traffic offences to which fixed charge notices and penalty points apply.  My Department will shortly convene a meeting with a group of relevant stakeholders, such as the Gardaí and the RSA, to discuss, and recommend to me, the offences that might appropriately be added to the fixed charge/penalty points system.

Legal provision already exists, under Section 54(d) of the Road Traffic Act 2010, for making the use of a vehicle with defective or worn tyres a penalty points offence with 2 points awarded on the payment of a fixed charge and 4 points on conviction in Court.  I will consider commencing this section of the Act when I have heard from the group.

Regulation 16 of the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 (S.I. No.  190 of 1963), as amended, sets out the legislative requirements for tyres on mechanically propelled vehicles and it is an offence under the Road Traffic Acts to use a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place which does not comply with those requirements.

Road Improvement Schemes

 226. 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 the National Roads Authority to provide funding as a matter of priority for a section of the Ring of Kerry, from Caherciveen town to Deelis Bridge (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28143/13]

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. Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for the NRA in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

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.

Departmental Reports

 227. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will set out the value for money reports and the focused policy assessments carried out within his Department since March 2011; the actions that have been taken to implement such reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28181/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Value-for-Money and Policy Reviews were completed for the Marine Survey Office, the Irish Coast Guard, and Iarnród Éireann’s Third Railway Safety Programme in 2012. Arising from the previous round of Reviews, a report on the Rural Transport Programme was published in January 2012.    The Value for Money reviews into the Coast Guard and Marine Surveying functions of the Department were undertaken by independent consultants Fisher Associates and published on the Department’s website. A supplementary review on Coast Guard operations was undertaken earlier this year.  The Reviews identified  issues which need to be addressed in Ireland's maritime transport safety and marine emergency response regimes.

  I informed the Government that I would consider the reviews and prepare an action plan to address the issues and deficiencies identified. I emphasised that responding to the Reviews provides a valuable opportunity to create more efficient and effective maritime safety regulatory arrangements and emergency response services. It is also important to recognise that resources available are very limited and must be deployed on a prioritised basis as effectively and efficiently as possible to address the most urgent needs. My Department’s response to the Reviews is nearing completion and I expect to finalise the Action Plan very shortly.

  The Report on the Mid-Term Review of Iarnród Eireann’s Third Railway Safety Programme was completed by Risk Solutions in October 2012.  It is expected that the report will be published on the Department’s website shortly. It concludes that rail safety performance has improved and that rail safety risk compares favourably with that in other European countries. The report makes a wide range of recommendations on matters such as future governance issues and investment levels. A Working Group has been established in the Department to agree a Railway Assets Renewal programme, which will take into account the conclusions and recommendations of the Review.

  The Value for Money and Policy Review of the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) was published in January 2012.  Responsibility for the RTP was transferred to the National Transport Authority (NTA) in April 2012.  Since then, the NTA has been working on implementing the recommendations of the Report.  The  Minister of State will shortly announce the restructuring of the RTP.  This will have the effect of addressing many of the issues raised by the Value for Money Report.

  For further information, I refer the Deputy to the following links for the full reports.

http://www.dttas.ie/upload/general/13551-MSO_VALUE_FOR_MONEY_REVIEW_APRIL_2012-0.PDF  

http://www.dttas.ie/upload/general/13550-IRCG_VALUE_FOR_MONEY_REVIEW_APRIL_2012-0.PDF  

http://www.transport.ie/upload/general/13464-20110630_VFM_FINAL_REPORT-0.PDF

Regional Road Network

 228. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if an application for funding been received from Laois County Council in respect of a project (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28209/13]

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 is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded from State road grants is also a matter for the local authority.

No application for funding for traffic calming works on the R639 entering Durrow has been received in my Department from Laois County Council.  It is open to the Council to fund these works from its Discretionary Grant or from its own resources.

Capital Expenditure Programme Issues

 229. Deputy John Lyons Information on John Lyons Zoom on John Lyons asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will include social clauses for the long-term unemployed in the transport projects announced as part of the €150 million extra in capital expenditure for 2013 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28255/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am broadly supportive of a ‘social clause’ that would result in more local residents and people from the Live Register being employed on Government capital projects.  Work is being done on this matter on a ‘whole of government’ level.  As the Deputy will understand, there may be issues with competition, the European internal market and other legal issues.  Moreover, it is  not straightforward.  For example, a construction contractor may have five people working for them who will lose their jobs if they do not get  a new contract.  There is a risk that they could all lose their jobs if, for example, the contract they might have won was given to another contractor willing to take one person on from the Live Register.  Rather than reducing the Live Register, it might just result in more employment churn if the clause is not well designed.

With regard to local and regional roads, the improvement and maintenance of such roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants. As a result of this recent initiative I am in a position to allocate an extra €50 million in 2013 for the maintenance and rehabilitation of road surfaces on regional and local roads. The selection of individual schemes to be funded from this additional allocation is a matter for the relevant local authority.

With regard to national roads, 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. I understand that the National Development Finance Agency is reviewing the potential for including social clauses in future PPP projects.

Tax Code

 230. 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 is working with the Department of Finance to retain the current 9% VAT rate in the tourism sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28265/13]

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 am very conscious that the tourism and hospitality industry would like to see the rate continued through 2014 and beyond. I am also conscious that it has been estimated by the Department of Finance that the VAT reduction costs the Exchequer €350 million a year. In that context, I am supportive of retaining a reduced rate, but that can only be justified on the basis of clear evidence of the impact of the reduction.

As the Deputy is aware, taxation policy is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Finance.

Departmental Bodies

 231. 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 degree of transparency sought and detail given to him and his Department following inquiries and request for information regarding exceptional costs, if any, regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28267/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Irish Sports Council, which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body with responsibility for the promotion, development and co-ordination of sport, including the allocation of funding for the National Governing Bodies of Sport and associated governance procedures. The funding provided by the Council to the organisation mentioned by the Deputy is ring-fenced for the non-professional elements of the sport and is mainly focused on programmes aimed at increasing participation.

I have referred the Deputy’s question to the Irish Sports Council for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to inform my office if a reply is not received within 10 days.


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