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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 463-474
 Header Item Workplace Relations Services
 Header Item Postal Services
 Header Item An Fhoireann Rannach
 Header Item Electric Vehicle Grants
 Header Item Cycling Facilities Funding
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item National Roads Authority Projects
 Header Item Roads Maintenance
 Header Item Coast Guard Services
 Header Item Rail Services

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 463-474

Workplace Relations Services

 463. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding workplace issues at Bord na Móna; if these issues were brought to his attention since his appointment; and the actions he proposed to take in relation to same. [47058/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White My predecessor previously enquired into concerns raised in relation to workplace matters in Bórd na Mona. He was assured earlier this year by the Board of Bord na Móna that there are appropriate systems in place to deal with such issues. In the absence of specific details in the Deputy's Question, I am not in a position to comment further. However, if the Deputy provides me with further information, I will bring the matter to the attention of the Chairman of the Company for investigation as appropriate.

Postal Services

 464. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White if the State's two official names of Éire and Ireland will be included on postage stamps (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47127/14]

 465. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White his plans to include the name Ireland on our postage stamps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47273/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I propose to take Questions Nos. 464 and 465 together.

In common with Irish euro coins, the Seal of the President of Ireland, and a range of national symbols, Éire is used as the only name of the Irish state on postage stamps. This is partly a reflection of the very limited space that a postage stamp affords to display an appropriate design, the national designation (Éire) and a denomination (value). "Éire" is the officially designated name of the country with the UPU (Universal Postal Union) - as the identifier of stamps originating from this country. The first stamps with Éire as the country name appeared in 1922, and this name has appeared on all subsequent stamps. Although there are a small number of countries with more than one country name on their stamps, the vast majority use a single identifier.

An Fhoireann Rannach

 466. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White cén líon daoine atá ag obair ina Roinn faoi láthair atá inniúil ar a chuid nó a cuid oibre a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge; cén céatadán den fhoireann atá i gceist; comparáid a dhéanamh idir na figiúirí sin agus na figiúirí céanna in 2004, 1994, 1984 agus 1974.  [47282/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Is féidir liom a dheimhniú go bhfuil sé tugtha le fios ag 13 ball foirne i mo Roinn go bhfuil scileanna Gaeilge acu. Is ionann sin agus 5% de líon iomlán na foirne. Ní féidir liom figiúirí a thabhairt do na blianta sular cruthaíodh an Roinn Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha sa bhliain 2007.

Electric Vehicle Grants

 467. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White further to Parliamentary Question No. 545 of 25 November 2014, his plans to increase the uptake of the electric vehicle grant scheme to help meet our carbon emission targets for 2020. [47299/14]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive sets all Member States a binding target that at least 10% of the energy used in the transport sector must come from renewable sources by 2020. Ireland aims to meet this target mainly through the use of sustainable biofuels with electric vehicles also making a smaller contribution.

There are already a number of supports in place for the deployment of electric vehicles. The Electric Vehicle Grant Scheme, subject to finalisation of the budgetary arrangements, will continue next year as will the VRT relief for electric vehicles. Additionally, the ESB is continuing to roll out both publicly accessible charging infrastructure and domestic charge points.

Interest in electric vehicles is growing and in 2014 there was a significant increase in electric vehicle purchases through the grant scheme compared to previous years. Of the 558 vehicles grant aided since the scheme commenced in 2011, 276 were grant aided in 2014 alone and demand is expected to continue to grow in 2015. Furthermore, it is expected that the biggest technological developments in the sector will take place in battery and vehicle design and this will continue to address concerns regarding the battery range of electric vehicles.

Cycling Facilities Funding

 468. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the reason he did not adhere to the independent assessment team's recommendations for the funding of greenways; the objective criteria he used in choosing the projects which received funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46741/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe My Department held a funding call in respect of the Local Authority National Cycle Network Funding Programme 2014 to 2016 in September 2013.  The first phase of the assessment process involved the use of a scoring matrix to objectively assess and shortlist projects relative to a set criteria outlined in the funding call.  10 proposals were shortlisted in December 2013.   

  In order to fully appraise the shortlisted projects, site visits were undertaken by members of the above team.  The site visits helped to better inform the assessment process and the recommendations for funding were subsequently provided to the then Minister for Public and Commuter Transport.  The projects selected for funding under the NCN Programme were in line with the recommendations made by the NCN Assessment Team.  Successful projects under this Programme were announced in April 2014.   

  The projects selected separately in May 2014 were funded from the Government's Infrastructure Stimulus Package.  It is my understanding that these projects were selected by the former Minister for Public and Commuter Transport on the basis of the local authority's capacity to deliver cycle infrastructure within a relatively short timeframe, approximately 18 months.  I understand that this approach was taken in order to maximise the stimulus effect.   

  The 11 proposals which received funding under the Stimulus Package are currently at various stages of planning, design and construction and my Department is keeping all projects under review.   

  Full details of the assessment and marking process in relation to the selection of projects funded under the NCN Funding Programme 2014 to 2016 are in the public domain following disclosure under a recent FOI request and can be viewed on the Department's website
www.dttas.ie/corporate/english/foi-decisions or on the Smarter Travel website www.smartertravel.ie

Road Safety

 469. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the speed limits that apply to residential areas that have not yet been taken in charge by the relevant local authority; if there are mechanisms in place to modify these speed limits using local by-laws; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46924/14]

 470. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the recently announced pilot programme for the reduction of speed limits to 30 km/hr in residential areas applies to all residential areas and estates in a local authority area, including those that have not yet been taken in charge by the authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46927/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 469 and 470 together.  

In mid-October last, my Department issued a Circular to all local authorities requesting them to undertake a review of speed limits in housing estates so that they and the Elected Members could decide if the existing speed limits in such estates are appropriate to ensure a safe environment, particularly for children. This initiative is aimed at dealing with excessive speeds in residential areas which poses a serious danger to vulnerable road users within housing estates such as cyclists and pedestrians and especially children at play. An increased use of a 30km/h speed limit and other associated measures in such areas can go a long way to addressing this problem.  

Among the recommendations contained in the Circular to local authorities is that the latter should, as part of the measures to improve safety, go through the process of adopting bye-laws for the 30km/h limit for the selected estates. As the Deputy may be aware, 30km/h is a special speed limit and statutory responsibility for setting such limit in respect of any specific road is vested in local authorities under section 9 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 and requires a public consultation process followed by a decision by the Elected Members. In order to go through this process, the Circular makes clear that it will be necessary, where relevant, for the housing estate to be taken in charge.  

The taking in charge of housing estate roads by local authorities is provided for under section 11 of the Roads Act, 1993. Where there is an undue delay by a road authority in taking a road in charge, there is provision under section 180 of the Planning Act 2000 for a majority of the qualified electors who own or occupy the houses within the estate in question to require the road authority to initiate proceedings under section 11 of the Roads Act, 1993.

National Roads Authority Projects

 471. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the reason a placename continues to appear incorrectly on official documents (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47264/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I was glad to be able to inform the public that the National Roads Authority will be progressing a programme of minor road improvement works across the country next year - the project list attached to the press statement did refer inadvertently to An Daingean rather than Dingle/Daingean Uí Chúis and the Deputy's point on this is noted.

Roads Maintenance

 472. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if his attention has been drawn to the success of the street repairs app used in Britain and Northern Ireland; and his views on modernising the process of reporting local maintenance issues via location-based tagging. [47296/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I very much support the modernisation of reporting local maintenance issues. Indeed, internet facilities and apps such as fixmystreet are already available in Ireland. Improved information can assist with better targeting of scarce resources and such systems are, therefore, to be welcomed.  

In addition, my Department has been working with local authorities towards the development of a pavement management system for Ireland using the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) MapRoad web based software and apps. This includes the tracking and reporting of road condition.  The process has now been strengthened and supported through the establishment of the Road Management Office (RMO).

Coast Guard Services

 473. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe regarding the radio station on Valentia Island, the position regarding the night shift at the radio station; if there is no threat to the cover that is being provided at night and if the station will continue to operate 24 hours a day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46750/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe In response to the publication of a Value for Money Report into the operation of the Irish Coast Guard in 2012, an examination of the future operation of the 3 Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRSC) in Dublin, Malin and Valentia was undertaken by my Department.  In July 2013 my predecessor announced an Action Plan to further develop the Coast Guard services.  As part of this Plan the Minister announced that the 3 co-ordination centres would remain in place but would be operated on an interoperable basis to achieve important efficiencies and improvements in the delivery of the services.

I can confirm that I have no plans to reduce the services at Valentia MRSC and that it is being maintained on a 24 hour basis.  The staff in the Coast Guard are continuing to develop the services in that Centre and new technologies will be installed there throughout 2015 as well as the implementation of improved working processes.  

The Coast Guard is currently recruiting Watch Officers to bring the staffing complement of Watch Officers in the three centres up to 40, as provided in the Action Plan.  It is expected that some of these Watch Officers will be assigned to Valentia MRSC in due course.

Rail Services

 474. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the reason Iarnród Éireann has an excessively severe restriction policy (details supplied) regarding refunds; and if this is in breach of normal customer charters and best practice. [46764/14]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe 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 response within ten working days.


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