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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 264 -275
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item National Car Test
 Header Item Road Traffic Offences
 Header Item Transport Infrastructure Provision
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Air Services Provision
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Historic Towns Initiative
 Header Item Departmental Staff Recruitment

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 891 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 264 -275

Road Network

 264. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to replace and-or renew the community involvement scheme and the local improvement scheme; if he is aware of the increased deterioration of many roads in rural Ireland, which would benefit from increased funding through the continuation of such schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33727/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe A separate pilot Community Involvement Scheme (CIS) was run in 2013 and 2014. The scheme has reverted back to allowing local authorities to set aside 7.5% of their Restoration Improvement (RI) and Restoration Maintenance (RM) grants for CIS schemes if they so wish.

The Local Improvement Scheme remains in place but there is no separate allocation available towards this grant category. Instead local authorities may use up to 15% of their initial Discretionary Grant towards Local Improvement Schemes should they wish to do so. The local contribution for these schemes remains at 20% of the total cost of the project. I take the view that local authorities are best placed to assess whether funding should be allocated to LIS.

In addition to the funding provided at the start of the year, a further €24 million (Stimulus) was allocated to local authorities in July 2015 under Restoration Improvement Programme and local authorities were allowed to use up to 20% of their additional Restoration Improvement Grant towards CIS and 10% towards LIS should they wish to do so.

Road Network

 265. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the proposed cost of the M17-M18 Gort to Tuam motorway in County Galway; the amount spent to date on the project; when the project will be completed; when the Tuam bypass will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33730/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe 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 Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) formerly 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 TII for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

National Car Test

 266. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the detection rate of excess omissions from Volkswagen and Audi vehicles registered since 5 July 2008 in national car test centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33738/15]

 267. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the extent to which national car test regulations concerning emissions standards have been circumvented by the fitting of software in Volkswagen and Audi vehicles registered since 1 July 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33739/15]

 268. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the implications for motorists who are owners of Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles affected by the recent revelation that software is being used to give false readings of emissions, when the vehicles are being tested in laboratory conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33740/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 266 to 268, inclusive, together.

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006), the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has overall responsibility for the operation, oversight, development, quality assurance and delivery of the National Car Testing Service (NCTS). 

The recent Volkswagen disclosure relates to laboratory pollution emission testing during the Type Approval Testing procedure. The disclosure applies solely to emitted pollutants, centred primarily on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel engines. 

I am advised that the level of NOx emissions is not tested as part of the NCT current testing regime as it is not part of the criteria that is specified under the European Roadworthiness Directive. The results of NCT tests by make and model of vehicle for 2013 and 2014 are available on the RSA website.

This is a new and emerging issue and my Department is working closely with other Departments and Agencies in monitoring developments as the matter evolves, to fully understand the impact of this disclosure on the Irish market. The situation relating to car emission controls is to be discussed today by the relevant Member State Ministers at a meeting of the European Competitiveness Council, the outcome of which is awaited.

Road Traffic Offences

 269. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he will consider an amendment to section 12 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 to allow for suspension of parking fines when such fines are under appeal to either the local authority concerned or to the Ombudsman; if he is satisfied that section 12(c), which allows local authorities to increase the amount of a fine by 50% if it is unpaid after 28 days, is fair and equitable in the circumstances of an appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33787/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe ​The provisions referred to by the Deputy relate to fixed charge offences, and I have no plans to change them.    

  Under section 3 of the Local Government (Traffic Wardens) Act 1975, as substituted by section 12 of the Road Traffic Act 2002, traffic wardens are empowered to issue fixed charge notices for certain offences, including parking offences. This measure was introduced under the 2002 Act in tandem with the power of An Garda Síochána to issue fixed charge notices. 

  The fixed charge notice system has proven very effective as a tool for enforcement and deterrence. It also has the advantage, to both the public and the courts, of providing a means by which many of the cases can be resolved without recourse to the courts, with the inevitable added cost and burden to the courts which this would involve.

  Fixed charge notices, whether issued by An Garda Síochána or by traffic wardens, allow a 28 day period in which the fixed charge penalty may be paid, after which the person has a further 28 days to pay the original penalty plus 50%. Where the penalty has not been paid within 56 days, a prosecution for the offence can be initiated. If payment is made within the 56 day period, there is no prosecution.

  In cases where people wish to offer a defence regarding the alleged offence, they have the option to refuse to pay, and defend the case in court.

  I see no reason to change this system in the manner proposed by the Deputy.

Transport Infrastructure Provision

 270. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he will review and advance the Metro west project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33821/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Metro West was proposed under Transport 21 as an orbital metro connecting Tallaght and Blanchardstown in the west of Dublin with the original Metro North proposal to Swords. The project was to be procured as a Public Private Partnership, however a significant Exchequer contribution would also have been required.  

  In October 2010 the then Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) submitted an application to An Bord Pleanála for a Railway Order for the metro project. In light of the financial crisis, it was decided that the Railway Order application for Metro West should be withdrawn in September 2011.

  Based on the outcome of the recent Fingal/North Dublin Transport Study undertaken by the National Transport Authority, the Government has decided that a revised Metro North scheme is the most appropriate public transport solution to address the transport needs of the Swords/Airport/City Centre Corridor. Funding is being made in the new Capital Plan Building for Recovery  for new Metro North but there are no plans and no funding to proceed with the Metro West proposal. 

  The National Transport Authority (NTA) whose statutory remit covers planning of public transport in the Greater Dublin Area is currently updating its long term strategy for the wider GDA which will cover all the main corridors in the GDA.   The draft Strategy will be published for public consultation shortly.

Road Network

 271. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if funding will be made available to local authorities to complete design and planning work in respect of upgrading the R178 Dundalk to Cavan strategic route; if he is aware that there is an urgent need to have this road upgraded, given the very heavy volume of traffic, particularly heavy vehicles, and the importance of this route for the further economic development of Counties Cavan, Monaghan and Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33902/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe 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.

Cavan County Council was provided with over €2 million between 2007 and 2013 from my Department in connection with this project under the Strategic Non-National Road Grants Scheme in order to bring this 75 km route to preliminary design stage. A further allocation of €100,000 was provided in 2014 to facilitate completion of the preliminary design.

Allocations for 2015 have been made and no further funding is available. Due to budgetary constraints it will not be possible to progress the project further at this point.

Air Services Provision

 272. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys in light of the profound opposition of the population of the Aran Islands, and their relations and contacts on the mainland, if she will ensure that the Aer Arann connection is maintained; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [33737/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh My position from the outset has been to ensure a continued air service to the Aran Islands, with significant financial support from the Government, in line with EU rules in regard to Public Service Obligation (PSO) air services.

  My Department is continuing in its efforts to reach an agreement for an interim service with the holder of the air service.

Departmental Expenditure

 273. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will provide information, in tabular form, on allocations made under the auspices of her Department for projects in the Dublin Fingal area since 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33689/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Details of the annual funding allocation to my Department at subhead level are published in the annual Revised Estimates Volume. Through these subheads, my Department administers and delivers a wide range of programmes and measures, descriptions of which are available on its website at http://www.ahg.gov.ie/   Expenditure under these programme areas is recorded and accounted for on a national basis and it is not possible to give a regional or county-by-county breakdown of that expenditure. For example, a number of my Department’s programmes are delivered through agencies and other intermediary bodies that operate across county boundaries and in respect of which there is no detailed breakdown on a county basis held by my Department. Groups and organisations that receive grants directly from my Department are not typically constituted on a single-county basis.

  In view of this and because of the wide range of my Department’s schemes and programmes, and the large volumes of payments and grants involved, it is not possible to provide the information sought. However, if the Deputy has specific queries relating to a particular programme or grant, I would be glad to seek to provide him with relevant information in that regard. Similarly, if the Deputy would like specific information in relation to a particular scheme, I would be glad to arrange to have any such request from him examined.

Historic Towns Initiative

 274. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans to expand the historic towns initiative beyond the three towns covered by the pilot project; her views on the success of the pilot scheme to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [33753/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Historic Towns Initiative (HTI) aims to promote heritage-led regeneration of the historic cores of our rural historic towns by harnessing the cultural heritage assets of participating towns. The wider objective is to help stall and, ultimately, reverse the trend towards depopulation, loss of vibrancy, vacancy and dereliction which currently exists. During 2013 and 2014, the Department, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, the Heritage Council and three local authorities, ran a pilot HTI programme in Youghal, Listowel and Westport. Central to the programme was that it was driven at local level, with guidance by a national steering group comprising officials from each local authority, DAHG, the Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland. An HTI guidance manual was also developed to assist each town in the pilot programme. The pilot scheme is considered to have been a success in the three towns that participated. Plans to further develop the Initiative will be contingent on the availability of funding in the context of the many competing priorities in 2016 and beyond for the conservation, preservation and presentation of the State’s heritage.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

 275. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans to recruit staff at Killarney House; if she will provide details of the breakdown of staff; when the recruitment process will begin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33765/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The works to Killarney House that began last year - including the new extension - are now substantially completed and work on the interpretative exhibitions is in train. Once this latter element has been moved forward sufficiently, the staffing requirements can be addressed. In this regard, staffing requirements at the location referred to by the Deputy, as with all other areas of my Department, will remain the subject of ongoing consideration in light of the overall business needs and within the pay framework to be approved for 2016. The nature of the posts required, as well as the numbers involved and the budgetary implications, will be determined in due course.


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