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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 727-747
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item Rail Services
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item Public Private Partnerships Cost
 Header Item Departmental Legal Costs
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Data Protection
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Road Projects Expenditure
 Header Item State Bodies Expenditure
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Driver Licence Applications
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Sports Funding
 Header Item Driver Licence Renewals
 Header Item Driver Licences

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 821 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 83 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 727-747

Road Safety

 727. 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 and Road Safety Authority to immediately investigate and improve the exit from Iveragh Park, Killorglin, County Kerry onto the Ring of Kerry road; if he will take into consideration the fact that there are a large number of residents living in this estate and that sight distance is severely restricted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49012/13]

 728. 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 and the Road Safety Authority to immediately investigate and improve the exit from Iveragh Park, Killorglin, County Kerry onto the Ring of Kerry road; if he will take into consideration the fact that there are a large number of residents living in this estate and the fact that sight distance is severely restricted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49046/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 727 and 728 together.   

  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. 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.

Rail Services

 729. 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 if tickets can now be purchased on-line for all Irish Rail services; if the online option is not available on all services, when same will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49081/13]

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

Road Projects

 730. 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, in tabular form by local authority, of the number of road projects at the various stages of planning, including the preliminary stage of planning, the preferred route corridor stage, and the preferred route selection and approval stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49115/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The planning, design and implementation of individual national roads are matters for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  As regards regional and local roads, the improvement and maintenance of those 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 projects to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Details of the grant allocations for both national and regional & local road projects for 2013 are available in the Dáil Library. In relation to the national roads, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NRA for direct response. If no response has been received within ten days, please contact my private office.

Road Safety

 731. 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 if he will consider a scrappage scheme for trailers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49135/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar A scrappage scheme along the lines of that suggested by the Deputy would be a matter for consideration by the Minister for Finance.    

  In the meantime, in the interest of road safety, it is important that trailers used on our roads comply with all relevant roadworthiness requirements.

Public Private Partnerships Cost

 732. Deputy John Halligan Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will clarify the reason the Government will pay in the region of €10 million in subsidies over the next decade to a Spanish company (details supplied) and its operating concessionary partner for tolls generated on the M3 motorway and also the Limerick motorway in view of the deplorable state of the roads here, particularly rural roads; the steps he intends to take to renegotiate the current contracts held with the companies concerned as the Portuguese Government has recently done; his views on whether the outlay could be easily redirected to address road surfacing issues throughout the country; if his Department is looking into the possibility of renegotiating these contracts; if so, the steps that have been taken to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49312/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The payment of the traffic guarantee payments are the result of legally binding contracts that the National Roads Authority (NRA) entered into with the relevant Public Private Partnership (PPP) consortia. The Deputy will be aware that as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The implementation of individual national road schemes, including PPP projects, is a matter for the NRA under the Roads Acts 1993-2007.  

In addition, the statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into toll agreements with private investors in respect of national roads is vested in the NRA under Part V of the Roads Act (as amended).  The contracts for the privately-operated toll schemes including the two PPP contracts, the M3 Clonee-Kells PPP and the Limerick Tunnel PPP, where a traffic guarantee mechanism is in place are, therefore, commercial agreements between the NRA and the PPP concessionaires concerned.  The Limerick Tunnel concession commenced from August 2006.  The M3 Clonee to Kells concession commenced from April 2007.

These are legally binding contracts that cannot be unilaterally renegotiated by either party. While it would be obviously much more satisfactory to spend the money going on traffic guarantee payments on the maintenance and restoration of our roads, that is unfortunately not possible without changing the terms and conditions of the contract, and there has been no indication from either of the PPP consortia of a willingness to do so. My understanding is that the Portuguese government renegotiated their PPP contracts to extend payments over a longer period of time, so while payments are reduced in the short-term, the Portuguese government will pay more in the long-term. Given the responsibility of the NRA in this area, I have referred the Deputy's question to them for further reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Departmental Legal Costs

 733. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 523 of 12 November 2013, if he will provide a breakdown of the total cumulative amount per year paid to senior counsel since 2004 as there is no data detailing the person who is senior counsel on his Department's website; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49316/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the table below:

Year Amount
2006 €176,954
2007 €46,325
2008 -
2009 -
2010 €31,726
2011 €7,563
2012 -
2013 (to date) -

Departmental Expenditure

 734. 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 further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 521 and 522 of 12 of November 2013, the current Minister and Department responsible for providing the figures for tourism and sport prior to March 2011; the current Minister and Department responsible for providing figures relating to local roads prior to 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49317/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department has a policy of making the maximum possible financial information available on the www.dttas.ie and is committed to continuing to update and improve the reports which already have been made available. However, the details requested by the Deputy are not readily accessible by my Department.     

  In respect of payments relating to Tourism and Sport for the period prior to March 2011, the Tourism and Sport functions were part of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, which was later re-named the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport.  In the reconfiguration of Departments which took place at the formation of the current Government, the Tourism and Sport functions and associated financial information for that year were transferred to my Department.  I understand that historical data relating to financial payments to third parties did not transfer across to my Department.

  In respect of payments relating to regional and local roads for the period prior to 1   January 2008, the regional and local road functions were part of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Statutory Instrument No. 815/2007 – Roads and Road Vehicles (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order 2007, provided for the transfer of regional and local road functions to my Department. Historical data relating to financial payments to third parties for goods and services remained with the former Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, which is now the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

Data Protection

 735. 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 if his attention has been drawn to a data breach regarding customer information at the National Driving Licence Service; the measures he is taking to preserve privacy online and protection of citizens' data in the wake of this significant breach of Internet privacy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49329/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The operation of the National Driver Licensing Service is a matter for the Road Safety Authority (RSA).   The RSA informed me of the breach and assured me that no personal financial information was compromised. I understand that the RSA has notified the Data Commissioner of the incident. The RSA is also investigating the incident. As this is a matter for the RSA, I have forwarded the question to the Authority for direct reply, and I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received in the next ten days. 

Departmental Bodies

 736. 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 the budget for Tourism Ireland for the years 2010 to date in 2013; and any proposed budget reductions to these bodies being considered. [49351/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Tourism Ireland as a North South body receives funding from both the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and from my Department via Fáilte Ireland. The agency's annual Business Plan including its budget is approved by the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC). As the Deputy will be aware, his party colleagues in the Northern Ireland Executive are also members of the NSMC. The allocations provided by my Department to Tourism Ireland for administration and core overseas marketing activity for the period 2010 to 2013 are as follows:- 2010 ,€48.892 million; 2011, €47.248 million; 2012, €45.831 million; 2013, €44.294  million.   

 While the agency's 2014 Business Plan is yet to be approved, it is expected that its overall budget for next year will be reduced by 4% which is in line with efficiency-savings reductions agreed by the respective Finance Departments for all North/South bodies.

   

Road Projects Expenditure

 737. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the areas for which the National Roads Authority have provided funding in 2014 under the infrastructure and capital investment 2012-2016 programme; the amount allocated to each area; the reason Buttevant, County Cork, with one of the worst road surfaces in any town or village in the country has been omitted from funding allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49353/13]

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 of the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993-2007  in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  It is a matter for the NRA to prioritise allocations under the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework 2012-2016.

Noting this 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.

State Bodies Expenditure

 738. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the annual budget for the National Transport Authority for each year 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49404/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The National Transport Authority (NTA) was established on 1 December 2009.  In accordance with the Dublin Transport Authority (DTA) Act 2008, the functions of the NTA include securing the provision of public transport infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). At national level, the NTA has responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger land transport services. This includes the provision of subvented bus and rail services by Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Irish Rail. The NTA has also administered the Regional Cities and Accessibility Grants Programmes on behalf of my Department since 2011. Given this, I have referred the question to the NTA for direct response to the Deputy. If a response is not received within ten working days, the Deputy should contact my private office.

Road Projects

 739. 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 Road Authority to provide funding as a matter of urgency to surface dress the Ring of Kerry road, N70, (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49420/13]

 740. 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 Road Authority to provide the necessary funding as a matter of urgency to surface dress the Ring of Kerry road, N70, from Caherciveen to Deelis Bridge as it is in an exceptionally poor condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49421/13]

 741. 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 Road Authority to provide funding as a matter of urgency to surface dress the N70 Iveragh Road, Killorglin, County Kerry that is in an exceptionally poor condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49422/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 739 to 741, inclusive, together.   

  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. 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.

Driver Licence Applications

 742. 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 the steps he will take to remedy the situation which has arisen in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford and deal with the clear discrepancy that has arisen in respect of the specified category of vehicles to which they are entitled as a result of their application in May 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49424/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Driver licensing is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority, and I cannot comment on individual cases.  I have referred the question to the Authority for direct response, and I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

Road Projects

 743. 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 when funding will be allocated to Longford County Council to enable the N55 Granard bypass to proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49432/13]

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.

Sports Funding

 744. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his attention has been drawn to any grant schemes at a European level for which sports clubs here may apply directly; if so, if he will provide the relevant information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49451/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  Erasmus+ 2014-2020 is the new EU Programme for education, training, youth and sport and will for the first time include a specific sport chapter.  The main focus of the sport chapter of the Erasmus+ Programme will be grassroots sports.  The objectives of the sport chapter include promoting voluntary activities in sport, together with social inclusion, equal opportunities and awareness of the importance of health-enhancing physical activity through increased participation in, and equal access to sport for all.

Grassroots organisations will be invited to participate by creating partnerships with similar organisations from other EU Member States.  Funding support will be available for transnational collaborative partnerships, not-for-profit European sport events, for initiatives strengthening the evidence base for policy making in sport and encouraging dialogue among European sport stakeholders. Given the focus on grassroots sports, there is an opportunity for Irish sporting organisations to benefit from the programme.  

Driver Licence Renewals

 745. 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 a category on the driving licence of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be reinstated as it was inadvertently removed after renewal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49493/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Driver licensing is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority, and I cannot comment on individual cases.  I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply, and I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

Driver Licences

 746. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will examine the situation regarding the removal of the category on driver licences for light trucks for those who held this category on previous licences; if the same criteria will be applied as those who had the trailer category on previous licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49605/13]

 747. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will examine the situation regarding the removal of the category on driver licences for motor cycles for those who held this category on previous licences; if the same criteria will be applied as those who had the trailer category on previous licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49613/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 746 and 747 together.

The situation whereby some people inadvertently lost their entitlement to tow trailers with their cars originated due to a change to driver licensing law in 1989.  Before that date, there was one licence category for driving cars and cars with trailers.  In many cases, this licence also permitted the driving of motorcycles and light trucks. The change in 1989 meant that in future there were separate categories, one for cars and others for cars with trailers, for motorcycles or for trucks. People requiring to tow trailers or to drive vehicles other than cars were, from then on, required to pass a test in that category.   People who had a full licence before the change were allowed, when renewing their licences, to claim both of the new categories.  To do so, they had to tick boxes for each category on their renewal forms.

It appears that a number of people renewed their licences for the car only category.  Earlier this year, I received representations from farming organisations on behalf of people who had  realised belatedly that they had lost the trailer entitlement which they had held prior to 1989.  On consideration of the issue, I decided that people who could prove that they had held a full driving licence pre-1989 - that is, had originally held a full entitlement to draw a trailer - should be allowed to reclaim their trailer entitlement.  I made it clear that this was a once-off arrangement and specific to the trailer entitlement.  I have no plans to make arrangements of this kind in other cases.


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