Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 581-603
 Header Item Traffic Regulations Implementation
 Header Item Local Improvement Scheme Funding
 Header Item Public Transport
 Header Item Public Transport
 Header Item Public Bike Schemes
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Road Traffic Legislation
 Header Item Cycling Facilities Provision
 Header Item Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item National Parks Projects
 Header Item Arts Funding
 Header Item Heritage Sites
 Header Item National Parks Projects
 Header Item Special Areas of Conservation Designation
 Header Item Inland Waterways By-laws
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 906 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 581-603

  Questions Nos. 581 and 582 answered with Question No. 568.

Traffic Regulations Implementation

 583. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on correspondence regarding bus lanes and limousine operators (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5044/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The question of whether limousines should be allowed to use bus lanes has been previously raised on numerous occasions. My predecessors and I have consistently rejected the proposal, as bus lanes were created at some considerable expense, to provide on-street priority for bus-based public transport.  The function of the lanes is to ensure that buses will be quicker and more reliable, thereby attracting more people out of their cars and onto public transport.  Bicycles are also permitted to use with-flow bus lanes, as they are inherently vulnerable road users, and considered safer in bus lanes.  For obvious reasons, the law also allows the emergency services to avail of the lanes.

When bus lanes were first introduced, taxis were not permitted to use them.  However, it was eventually agreed that they could, given that they are available for on-street hire.  Limousines differ in that they are not available for on-street hire. 

There have been many requests over the years to allow other categories of vehicle to use bus lanes.  These include requests for hackneys, multi-occupancy cars, electric vehicles, animal ambulances, and motor cycles, as well as limousines.  However, the view has consistently taken when considering such requests that any extension of access to bus lanes for other categories of vehicle would undermine the efficiency of the lanes and therefore undermine the purpose for which they were created.

Local Improvement Scheme Funding

 584. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe to provide funding to local authorities for local improvement schemes.  [5148/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As I outlined to the Deputy in my reply to PQ 3091 of 26 January 2016, 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.

The Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) provides funding for road and laneways that Councils have not taken in charge, that is, private roads and landways. The maintenance and improvement of these roads is, in the first instance, a matter for the relevant landowner.

The LIS for regional and local roads remains in place but my Department does not provide a separate grant allocation towards this scheme.  Instead local authorities may use a proportion of State grant funding for LIS should they wish to do so. 

There are no plans at present to revise the current arrangement. I take the view that local authorities are best placed to assess whether funding should be allocated to LIS.

Public Transport

 585. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the progress he has made and the plans to be realised in making public transport, in particular outside urban areas, more accessible to persons with a disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5159/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe My Department provides funding to the National Transport Authority (NTA) for the development of a rolling programme of bus replacement and refurbishment of the Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann PSO fleets both in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and nationally. Wheelchair Accessibility is built into all new public transport infrastructure projects and vehicles from the design stage and new systems such as the Luas are fully accessible. In addition, 100% of the Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann city fleets in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Sligo are wheelchair accessible, as well as 70% of the Bus Éireann coach fleet.

My Department also funds an on-going programme of accessibility improvement grants to upgrade existing public transport infrastructure and facilities. The bulk of this funding has been provided for the upgrading of Iarnród Éireann rail stations to make them accessible, and to enable wheelchair users to travel on Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann buses. This programme is being managed by the NTA on behalf of my Department. In the region of €75 million has been paid under the programme since 2006. 

In 2016 under the Accessibility Grants Programme, funding is being provided to the NTA for accessibility upgrade works at a number of rail stations, for accessible bus stops & bus stations and for a Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Grant Scheme.

In light of the NTA's responsibility in the matter I have referred the Deputy's question to the Authority for a more detailed reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days. 

Public Transport

 586. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he will extend improvements to public transport services such as on-board signs and announcements regarding routes and stops which are of considerable benefit to passengers with disabilities, including visual or hearing impairment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5162/16]

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

Public Bike Schemes

 587. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe to provide the usage statistics for the individual stations of the Limerick Bike Scheme that are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5170/16]

 588. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the value of sponsorship from a company (details supplied) to the bike schemes in counties Limerick, Cork and Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5171/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 587 and 588 together.

  The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible, in cooperation with the relevant local authorities, for the delivery and administration of the public bikes schemes in the regional cities of Limerick, Cork and Galway.

  I have forwarded your question relating to sponsorship of the schemes in the regional cities along with your question with your question relating to statistics for the Limerick bike stations to the NTA for attention and direct response to you.  

  If you have not received a response within 10 working days please contact my office.

Road Projects Status

 589. 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 to provide funding for a road at a location (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5187/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe 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 (including the N70) is a matter for the Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly known as the NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with Kerry County Council.

  Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.   

  Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Traffic Legislation

 590. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if a person (details supplied) in County Donegal can obtain an exemption from section 87 of the Road Traffic Act in order to complete level 3 of the emergency services driving standard training course; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5191/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As previously stated in my reply of 26 January 2016, road traffic legislation provides that vehicles driven by members of emergency services during the course of their duties are exempt from a range of traffic laws.  This applies to An Garda Síochána, fire and ambulance services, and is set out in section 87 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, as amended by section 23 of the Road Traffic Act 2014. I have no plans to amend the legislation to extend the exemptions already provided to any organisation or individual outside of those already provided for.

Cycling Facilities Provision

 591. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe when the Sandycove to Sutton Cycle Path will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5199/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe ​The National Transport Authority (NTA) is the competent authority responsible for the provision of walking and cycling infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area.

  I have forwarded your question on the Sutton to Sandycove Cycle Path to the NTA for attention and direct response to you.  If you have not received a response within 10 working days please contact my office.

Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme

 592. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme Pension (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5255/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe ​The funding solution proposed by the trustee of the Irish Airlines (General Employees) Superannuation Scheme (IASS) was approved by the Pensions Authority and was implemented in December 2014.  The IASS trustee made it clear that it considered that solution to be in the overall best interest of the members of the IASS as a whole and fully compliant with national and EU law.  Under that funding solution, the total contribution by the IASS employers, including Aer Lingus, towards resolving the IASS difficulties amounted to over €260 million.

I am also conscious that the outcome, although not ideal, was preferable to the alternatives, including the wind up of the Scheme.

Departmental Staff Data

 593. 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 the number of vacancies that exist within his Department for candidates who must display competence in the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [5441/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe There is one post within my Department which requires competence in the Irish language and that is the Irish Language Officer post. This post was filled internally in November 2015. No other posts requiring such competence have been identified. However, my Department also has a number of officers who are competent in the Irish Language outside of this post.

National Parks Projects

 594. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the status of a roadway (details supplied) in Killarney National Park, County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [5046/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Since 2011, my Department has expended almost €400,000 on works to roads within Killarney National Park, including:   

  - €26,666 on repairs to a roadway in the Killarney Demesne area, from the Deenagh Lodge to the White Bridge;

  - €175,000 on repairs to roadways in Muckross and in the Reen area of the Demesne; and

  - approximately €25,000 on repairs last year to a roadway in Muckross.

  Future works on the roads will be considered within the context of both the management priorities for Killarney National Park and the scarce resources available for the management of National Parks and Nature Reserves across the country.

  The national road running through the National Park is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland, in conjunction with the local authority, under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2015.

Arts Funding

 595. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys for a listing of all Arts funding allocated in each of the years 2011 to 2015 and to date in 2016, by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [4964/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Details of the funding allocations made available to my Department are published each year in the Revised Estimates Volume with the outturn published in the annual Appropriation Account. These publications are available on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform at www.per.gov.ie and on the website of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General at www.audgen.gov.ie.   

  Most of my Department's arts and culture budget is allocated to the cultural institutions and agencies under its remit. Within these allocations, the Arts Council is the primary State agency for funding the arts in Ireland. Details of the Arts Council's expenditure including its individual grants are available from Arts Council's website at http://www.artscouncil.ie/home/.

  Where my Department makes direct grants to organisations, the figures are published on the website of my Department at http://www.ahg.gov.ie/arts/creative-arts/grants-and-funding/ and at http://www.ahg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/. The figures for 2016 will be published in due course. It should be noted that the support provided directly by my Department for the arts primarily relates to capital investment in arts infrastructure. The information on the website indicates in each case the county in which the project is situated.

Heritage Sites

 596. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the results of recent pre-election consultations regarding planning permission for one-off houses in the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site area; if she will permit changes in the rules concerning these applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [4979/16]

 597. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of meetings she recently held concerning planning permissions for one-off housing in the Brú na Bóinne area; the names of the persons who attended these meetings; the commitments, if any, which were given; the new rules which are proposed in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [4980/16]

 598. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans to instruct the Louth and Meath county managers on planning applications in the Brú na Bóinne area.  [4981/16]

 599. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the instructions she has given to the Louth and Meath County Managers in relation to the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site  [4982/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I propose to take Questions Nos. 596 to 599, inclusive, together.

My Department continues to liaise and consult in the normal way with the relevant local authorities in relation to matters of mutual interest relating to the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage site which is managed on my behalf, as Minister, by the Office of Public Works. The operation of the planning and development system at local level is a matter for the local authorities, in this case Meath and Louth County Councils. It is not a function of my Department to issue instructions to planning authorities with regard to their responsibilities under planning legislation.

National Parks Projects

 600. 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 the status and timelines regarding the staffing recruitment and opening of Killarney House, County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [5021/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys There will be limited weekend opening of the Gardens from the 3rd of April, 2016. Planting is continuing and the Gardens will fully open on completion of this work during the summer. The interpretation/exhibition phase of the project, to be located within Killarney House, is advancing. I expect that the various elements of works will be completed in the coming months and it is intended that these amenities will be open to the public later in the year.

Staffing across my Department is subject to ongoing review through the workforce planning process to ensure appropriate and effective deployment of available resources in the light of emerging business needs and priorities. My Department is currently reviewing requirements for dedicated horticultural staff in the Gardens to complement the existing resources within Killarney National Park. Once the interpretation/exhibition phase has been moved forward sufficiently, the remaining staffing requirements of the project will be addressed. In this regard, the nature of the posts required, as well as the numbers involved and the budgetary implications, will be determined in due course.

Special Areas of Conservation Designation

 601. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys to review the designation of the Meenlaragh Falcarragh special protection area in County Donegal; if she is aware of the ongoing controversy and resentment among communities within the region as a result of the area's designated status due to the associated restrictions placed on landowners; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [5081/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Court of Justice of the European Union made a judgement against Ireland in 2007 in case C-418/04, for failing to implement in full the EU Birds Directive. In a significant element of the judgement, the court found that Ireland had not designated sufficient special protection areas for the corncrake and in paragraphs 101-102 of the judgement referred specifically to the Falcarragh to Mín an Chladaigh area. This area had long had a substantial population of this species and therefore was required by the Court to be included in the special protection area network. However, the corncrake population has declined in recent years.

The intention to designate the Falcarragh to Meenlaragh special protection area was advertised in July 2011. Landowners were advised that they could appeal against the proposed designation of the site as a special protection area. The appeals process has two stages: a Departmental review of an objection to the proposed designation, after which landowners who receive an adverse review may opt to take their cases to the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board. This is an independently chaired Board which makes recommendations to me, as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, on such cases.

While a number of appeals are before the Board relating to the Falcarragh to Meenlaragh special protection area, the appeal hearings had been adjourned by the Board. Subsequent to this adjournment I, along with Minister of State, Joe McHugh T.D., met with a group representing landowners from Mín an Chladaigh to discuss the issues arising. Officials of my Department have also met with the landowners on a number of occasions and with the Board.

My officials are now working towards a draft management plan for the site, to be developed in full consultation with landowners and Donegal County Council. This will aim to address as much as possible the concerns of landowners regarding the special protection area while providing for restoration of the corncrake.

I understand that the Board has recently informed appellants that it believes that the adjournment on appeals for this site should remain in place until this draft management plan is developed and presented by my Department.

I have no plans to review the current designation of the Falcarragh to Meenlaragh special protection area. However, the final boundary of the site may be amended as a result of the appeals process.

Inland Waterways By-laws

 602. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will support the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and its call for new canal by-laws via a dedicated canal Bill (details supplied) as our canals are an important amenity which is part of our heritage and can be a great source for tourism; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [5332/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Heritage Bill 2015, published by my Department in December last, included provisions to amend the Canals Act 1986 so as to allow for the subsequent making of bye-laws to regulate boating on the canals and to manage the use of the canals. The 1988 Canal Bye-Laws have been in force for some 27 years and need to be revised to reflect changes in the use of the canals over the intervening years. The proposed changes would allow Waterways Ireland to make new bye-laws to proactively manage the Royal and Grand Canals, as well as the Barrow Navigation.

The proposed amendments to the Canals Act 1986 were designed to provide for the regulation of the canals; the issue of permits or licences to regulate the use of boats on the canals and on canal property; the regulation of the type or class of boat which may be used on the canals; the regulation of berths and moorings and the placing of buoys on the canals or other canal property; the regulation and care of animals on the canals and other canal property; the appointment and powers of authorised officers and the service of directions.

Our waterways make a vital contribution to tourism, attracting visitors from around Ireland and from abroad. With approximately 500 boats on the three systems, Waterways Ireland is seeking to encourage more visiting boats onto the waterways. However, the existing bye-law regime is not conducive to advancing this objective. The proposed legislative changes were intended to encourage tourism and leisure craft users by supporting the investment already made by Waterways Ireland in new infrastructure and facilities along the canals and by enhancing Waterways Ireland’s ability to manage, maintain and develop the canals as a vibrant recreational and tourist amenity for all waterway users.

A decision on whether to proceed with the Heritage Bill 2015, which has passed Second Stage in Seanad Éireann, will fall to be made in due course.

Departmental Staff Data

 603. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of vacancies which exist within her Department for candidates who must display competence in the Irish language; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [5428/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I am advised that as gaps arise across my Department they are assessed through the workforce planning process, having due regard to Department of Public Expenditure and Reform directives, guidelines and circulars on staffing.

Irish is the working language of my Department’s Gaeltacht Division which provides a full service through Irish to members of the public. There are currently 49 staff assigned to the Gaeltacht Division of my Department and staffing in the division is subject to ongoing review through the workforce planning process to ensure appropriate and effective deployment of available resources in the light of emerging business needs and priorities. There are, presently, 3 vacancies in the Gaeltacht division.


Last Updated: 11/03/2020 16:40:14 First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page