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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1665-1682
 Header Item Sporting Events
 Header Item Road Projects Issues
 Header Item Road Safety Issues
 Header Item Road Improvement Schemes
 Header Item Public Transport Issues
 Header Item Road Signage
 Header Item Tourism Projects Funding
 Header Item Low Carbon Roadmap
 Header Item Driving Licence Issues
 Header Item Traffic Management
 Header Item Driving Licence Issues
 Header Item Air Accident Investigations
 Header Item Road Projects Issues
 Header Item National Transport Authority
 Header Item Vehicle Test Centres

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. 1665-1682

Sporting Events

 1665. 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 if he will provide an update on efforts to bring the Rugby World Cup to Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37972/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am fully supportive of the concept of hosting the Rugby World Cup in Ireland.  The IRFU has presented a feasibility study, which they commissioned, to my Department on the potential for hosting the tournament. The findings of that study and potential next steps are currently being considered.    

  In March of this year, the GAA Congress approved a motion which would allow the inclusion of Croke Park and other GAA grounds in the list of venues that would be used for matches if Ireland was selected as the host country for the tournament.  Should a bid to host the Rugby World Cup be submitted, the inclusion of any venue owned by the GAA is a matter for discussion and agreement between the IRFU and the GAA.

Road Projects Issues

 1666. 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 how improved road access to Kerry from Limerick via Adare and from Cork via Macroom can be progressed as quickly as possible; the plans to improve these two access corridors; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37974/13]

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.

Road Safety Issues

 1667. 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 if he will call in the National Speed Limit Review Group with a view to progressing changes to speed limits on roads around the country; if he appreciates that there are extremely dangerous situations in existence all over the country because of inappropriate speed limits and that there needs to be action taken to ensure that local authorities implement changes as quickly as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37979/13]

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.

Road Improvement Schemes

 1668. 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 if he will bring the case of Listry Bridge, on the R563, Killarney to Dingle Road, County Kerry, to the attention of the Road Safety Authority in view of concerns expressed (details supplied) about possible collisions at the bridge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37984/13]

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 is also a matter for the local authority.  

In July last year local authorities were invited to submit applications for consideration for funding in 2013 under the Specific Improvement Grants Scheme.  Kerry County Council applied for funding for ten projects under this grant category but Listry Bridge was not among the Council’s applications.  

The Specific Improvement Grants Scheme is scheduled to be discontinued from 2014 onward in order to maximise the funding available for repair and strengthening work.  In lieu of the Specific Improvement Grant Programme, applications have been sought for minor bridge repair works (which is a subset of the current Specific Grant Programme) for 2014.  This is in line with focusing monies on road and bridge maintenance and strengthening and the council may wish to prioritise this project and submit it for consideration for funding in 2014.  

It is also important to re-iterate that the role of Exchequer grants for regional and local roads is to supplement Councils like Kerry County Council in their own resources spending in this area.  It is open to the Council to fund this project from its own resources.  

Public Transport Issues

 1669. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if Bus Éireann publishes a profit and loss account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37997/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Bus Éireann's Annual Report and Accounts for 2012 were published in May and are available on the company's website.

Road Signage

 1670. 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 of the requirement to have new signs placed on motorways at 0.5km intervals detailing the route number, direction and distances travelled; the number of signs which have been erected on each of the motorways and national routes in question; the total cost of the installation; if a tendering process was entered into; the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38076/13]

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. More specifically, the NRA has responsibility for the provision of signage under Section 19 of the 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.

Tourism Projects Funding

 1671. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if there are any supports available for a private enterprise that wishes to establish a sports/tourism facility for commercial purposes, which will have a beneficial impact as a tourist attraction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38079/13]

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

Low Carbon Roadmap

 1672. 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 the progress to date made by his Department in the creation of a low-carbon roadmap as sought under the Our Sustainable Future policy framework and which is necessary to enable the transition to a competitive, low carbon and environmentally-sustainable economy. [38100/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As the Deputy refers, Departments with responsibility for key sectors in the transition to a low-carbon economy have been tasked with the preparation of individual low-carbon roadmaps that will deliver out to 2050.   

Transport is a key sector in this context and my Department will be required to frame this low-carbon vision and undertake all necessary evaluation so that a robust and cost-effective policy platform can be developed.  As part of this process, my Department is currently preparing a document for public consultation that will represent issues and policy considerations that are pertinent to transport from the perspective of transitioning to a low carbon future.    It is hoped that this 'Issues Paper' will be published before the end of October and will seek to invite submissions from all interested parties and key stakeholders.  Submissions received on foot of this paper will better inform the preparation of the roadmap and will contribute to key policy considerations within the transport sector.  Such considerations will include, among others, a continuation of a least cost measures approach, a focus on technology, sustainable land use patterns, alternative fuel options and market susceptibility to measures proposed. 

  Subsequent to the receipt of submissions and feedback from the Issues Paper, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will be liaising with the other relevant Departments on the various measures proposed with a view to agreeing a cross sectoral approach that prioritises the steps to be taken between now and 2050.

Driving Licence Issues

 1673. 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 the Road Safety Authority has fully notified other Governments of the recent changeover of Irish driving licences from a paper to a new plastic format; if the RSA has notified global publishers of books and other material of the changeover in Irish driving licences, in view of the fact that some 2013 publications of driving licences around the world do not have a record of the new plastic licences currently being issued here; if the RSA will make concerted efforts to notify such publishers for future reference; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38110/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The new format of plastic card licence is the standard EU format provided for under EU legislation and  it applies to all Member States as of 19 January 2013.  Both the EU and Irish legislation in this area are in the public domain.      

  Any further dissemination of information is a matter for the Road Safety Authority.  I have forwarded the question to the RSA for direct reply, and I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Question No. 1674 answered with Question No. 1608.

Traffic Management

 1675. 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 if his Department has ever considered the ideas of the Dutch road planner, Hans Monderman, in the management of traffic in urban areas; if he will provide details of same; if he will consider a pilot scheme in line with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38122/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar  I understand that Mr. Monderman promoted the concept of a ‘Shared Space’ approach to urban design, a type of approach which has gained increased momentum in Ireland in recent years.

The importance of street design in supporting and encouraging sustainable travel patterns in urban areas is recognised in the Smarter Travel policy under the theme of aligning spatial planning and transport. There is a growing appreciation that streets should not just be transport corridors, but rather should be places in which people want to live and spend time. To that end, my Department, together with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, launched a Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) in March 2013.  

The Manual, which is available on my Department’s website
www.dttas.ie, sets out design guidance and standards for constructing new and reconfiguring existing urban roads and streets in Ireland. It aims to end the practice of designing streets as exclusively traffic corridors and instead focuses on their wider use to include for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. DMURS emphasises the role of streets as social spaces, where people come first and uses practical examples from Irish cities and towns to show how these issues can be designed for and managed successfully. The transformation envisaged is not to the total exclusion of the car but is rather about achieving a better balance in how our urban roads and streets are designed and used.  In recent years, many local authorities in Ireland have been to the forefront of modern street design that supports sustainability objectives.

Driving Licence Issues

 1676. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the cost of a driving licence; if he will address the questions raised therein, namely why new driver licence photographs are required at each three yearly renewal; the reason it will take longer to issue licences and if this process can be speeded up; if a separate medical exam is required for the purposes of licence renewal for over 70's; if this would fall outside the scope of medical card cover; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38242/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar  As the Deputy may be aware, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) formally became the national driver licensing authority in January 2013.  From November next, the RSA will assume full responsibility for the service and, through contracts with private sector companies, will provide customer interface and processing services.  Under the new regime, there will be a target to process driver licence applications within 7 days.  

As the correspondent acknowledges, there is no renewal fee for for driver licences for those over 70.  There may, however, be costs associated with the required medical examination for certification of fitness to drive.  Given that age-related deteriorations can have a serious impact on ability to drive, the practice of requiring certification of fitness on a periodic basis for older drivers is widely recognised internationally.   I have no role in determining medical charges or matters relating to the scope of medical card cover.  

With regard to the correspondent's objection to producing an up to date photo every three years, I can advise that under the new licensing regime, photographs will be captured digitally as part of the processing service by the RSA.  There will no longer be a need, therefore, for the applicant to provide photographs when renewing a licence.

Air Accident Investigations

 1677. 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 the role of the Air Accident Investigation Unit's Inspector on Call; the response time for the position in attending scenes of air accidents for each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38270/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of my Department is subject to the provisions of Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Regulation (EU) No. 996/2010 and S.I. 460 of 2009. A core element of the AAIU response to notification of an occurrence is the 24 hour/365 day Inspector-on-Call (IOC) duty roster.   After due consideration of information provided and following consultation with the Chief Inspector of Air Accidents (CIAA) or his designate, the decision to investigate and the level of response is determined through specific definitions provided in legislation.

Following an aviation accident and mindful of the priority for the preservation of life by the Emergency Services, an Garda Síochána will secure and preserve the immediate area of the accident site, pending the arrival of the AAIU.  Every effort is made to arrive on-site as soon as possible.  The response times will be dependent on the circumstances of the event, location of the accident site (land/sea), light conditions, the terrain and weather conditions. As such it is not possible to be definitive on response times for attending scenes of air accidents for each county.

Questions Nos. 1678 and 1679 answered with Question No. 1628.

Road Projects Issues

 1680. 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 expedite the provision of a bypass in Adare as the delays and backlog of traffic are having a very negative impact on attracting jobs and industry to County Kerry and on tourism in the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38343/13]

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.

National Transport Authority

 1681. 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 the reason Irish Rail's contract with the National Transport Authority only specifies the number of trains it has to run, as opposed to a minimum capacity level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38355/13]

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

Vehicle Test Centres

 1682. 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 if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is currently no commercial vehicle testing centre in South Kerry; that owners of commercial vehicles in South Kerry have to travel up to two and a half hours to their nearest commercial vehicle testing centre; his plans to introduce a commercial test centre in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38374/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The subject matter of this question is a matter for the Road Safety Authority and consequently I have referred this 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.


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