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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1254 to 1267
 Header Item Taxi Regulations
 Header Item Taxi Ranks
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Bus Éireann Services
 Header Item Haulage Industry
 Header Item Sports Injuries
 Header Item Ministerial Staff

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 1254 to 1267

Taxi Regulations

 1254. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of complaints that have been made through the Irish Taxi Driver Check app to the National Transport Authority since its establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13538/14]

 1255. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the way the complaints made through the Irish Taxi Driver Check app are processed and investigated by the National Transport Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13539/14]

 1256. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if complaints made by taxi drivers about other taxi drivers through the Irish Taxi Driver Check app operated by the National Transport Authority are processed and investigated in the same way as those which are made by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13540/14]

 1257. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the powers the National Transport Authority has to investigate complaints made through the Irish Taxi Driver Check app; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13541/14]

 1258. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the powers the National Transport Authority has to prosecute or punish those who are found to be guilty following a complaint made through the Irish Taxi Driver Check app; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13542/14]

 1260. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his attention has been drawn to issues relating to the Irish Taxi Driver Check app which allow the system to be manipulated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13544/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 1254 to 1258, inclusive, and 1260 together.

  The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the regulation of the taxi industry under the Public Transport Regulation Act, 2009. I have referred your Questions to the NTA for direct reply. If you do not receive a reply within ten working days please contact my private office.

Taxi Ranks

 1259. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will address concerns by taxi drivers about the removal of a taxi rank on O’Connell Street, Dublin 1; and if he will make provision for another location on that street to be used; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13543/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Decisions regarding the location and operation of taxi ranks in Dublin City are a matter for Dublin City Council.

Under section 84 of the Road Traffic Act 1961, inserted by Section 15 of the Road Traffic Act, 2002, each local authority, in consultation with the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, is responsible for the making of bye-laws in respect of its functional area regarding the location and number of taxi ranks. Section 25 of the Taxi Regulation Act, 2013, when commenced, will replace and amend Section 84 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961, including an amendment which will provide for the National Transport Authority (NTA) to be consulted by a local authority when it is proposing to make such bye-laws.

I understand that the NTA is in ongoing discussions with Dublin City Council and taxi driver representatives concerning the identification of potential locations for rank space within Dublin City Centre, particularly so as a result of the Luas Cross-City construction works.

  Question No. 1260 answered with Question No. 1254.

Road Safety

 1261. 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 Ireland's premier tourist route, the Ring of Kerry road, from the dangerous S-shaped bridge at Glenbeigh NS to Mountain Stage, as this section of road presents a health and safety issue with a number of very dangerous bends; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13571/14]

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 do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Projects

 1262. 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 there is a policy that prevents local authorities from placing mini-roundabouts on national primary and national secondary roadways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13572/14]

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 do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Bus Éireann Services

 1263. 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 ask Bus Éireann and the National Transport Authority to place a bus route on the real-time bus information signs at a location (details supplied) to include the final destination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13576/14]

 1275. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the ten most expensive Bus Éireann journeys in the State per kilometre; and the ten least expensive journeys in the State per kilometre.  [13916/14]

 1279. 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 percentage of the Bus Éireann fleet that is currently fully wheelchair accessible; when he expects the whole fleet to be 100% accessible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14032/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1263, 1275 and 1279 together.

  The issues raised are matters for the National Transport Authority (NTA), in conjunction with Bus Éireann, and I have forwarded the Deputies' questions to the NTA for direct reply.   Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

  Question No. 1264 answered with Question No. 1246.

Haulage Industry

 1265. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the outcome of discussions with British Transport Ministers and at the North-South Ministerial Council in relation to the serious difficulties facing the Irish haulage industry, particularly in the Border area, due to the new road user levy on HGVs weighing 12 tonnes or more for the use of roads in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13611/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am very aware of the concerns of the Irish haulage industry regarding the introduction of a HGV road user levy by the UK parliament effective from 1 April 2014.  I have expressed the Irish Government's concerns on a number of occasions to both the UK and Northern Ireland authorities regarding the impact this levy will have on Republic of Ireland hauliers and businesses.  I have sought exemptions for roads in Northern Ireland to reduce the impact of the levy on Irish hauliers and businesses on the basis of the Irish Government's contribution towards the cost of roads infrastructure in Northern Ireland.  The issue has also been discussed at transport sectoral meetings of the North South Ministerial Council.

I met Stephen Hammond M.P., Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport last month and again pressed this issue at that meeting.  Clause 3 of the UK HGV Road User Levy Act 2013 allows the UK Secretary of State to vary the extent of the scheme by order.  The UK has proposed to exempt approximately 7 miles of cross-Border road between the Republic and Northern Ireland.  This would allow all operators to use these stretches of road without paying the levy, as it would be a breach of EU legislation to grant an exemption to just one country.  The UK authorities have been quite clear that they are not open to exempting all Northern Irish roads from the levy.  In this context, at the meeting with Mr Hammond, I proposed that an exemption be given for the A5 route, as it is often used by operators starting a journey in the Republic and transiting Northern Ireland to deliver goods to another location in the Republic.  It was agreed that further consideration would be given to this proposal, and my officials are continuing to engage with the UK Department for Transport on this matter.

Sports Injuries

 1266. Deputy Heather Humphreys Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if there is a code of conduct or guidelines in place in Ireland for when a player sustains a head injury during a soccer, GAA or rugby match or in other contact sports; his views on whether this is an area that needs to be highlighted further to ensure the safety of our players; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13659/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I fully recognise the seriousness of concussion and head injuries in sport and the importance of ensuring the safety of players. Having attended the first ever Brain Injury and Sport European Conference, hosted by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, in the Aviva Stadium last December, I am aware of the growing concerns around concussion and head injury in sport.  I am also aware that, along with the sporting bodies, organisations such as Acquired Brain Injury Ireland are working to raise awareness and education about concussion and head injuries in sport to players, coaches and others involved in sport at every level.

I am pleased to say that the FAI, GAA and IRFU all have concussion and head injury guidelines in place for their sports which stress the importance of ensuring the health and well-being of the players.

I have asked the Irish Sports Council to reply directly to the Deputy with further information on the guidelines in place by the sporting bodies. The Irish Sports Council is the statutory body with responsibility for the promotion, development and co-ordination of sport.  I would ask the Deputy to inform my office if a reply is not received within 10 days.

Ministerial Staff

 1267. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of civil servants engaged in constituency work on his behalf; and the salaries, accommodation costs and expenses involved or associated with these duties. [13692/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar There is currently 1 civil servant engaged on constituency work in my office, on the clerical officer salary scale of €23,177-€37,341 per annum.

The costs associated with the provision of office accommodation for the constituency office is not borne by my Department. The expenses associated, such as utilities (oil, gas and electricity) and building maintenance are charged to the Office Premises Expenses category of the Departmental budget for all premises occupied by Department staff.  It is not possible to extract the cost associated with the individual staff member concerned.


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