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 Header Item Public Transport (Continued)
 Header Item Olympic Games
 Header Item Tender Process

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross] They must be pleased with the fact that the Deputy's representations, the trade union's representations, their own representations and our awareness of the fact that appalling things were happening on public transport, made us proactive. I hope they are happy but of course we are happy to talk to them again if they think there is anything more we can do. That is not a promise of funding but it is certainly a promise of support, moral or otherwise for what they are doing.

I have been in touch with the Minister for Justice and Equality and he has been in touch with the Garda Commissioner in turn and it is being looked at very seriously. It is ultimately a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

Olympic Games

 3. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross his views on a recent decision by an organisation (details supplied) to suspend the boxing competition at the 2020 Olympics; and if he has made representations on this matter. [52437/18]

Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe: Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe I put this question to the Minister of State on the ongoing dispute between the International Olympic Committee and the International Boxing Association. Tokyo 2020 is fast approaching and at the moment it is asked that we suspend boxing competitions from the Olympics. Can the Minister of State please comment?

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin I thank the Deputy for raising this because it is a very important issue and a serious issue for our boxers.

I am aware of the recent announcement by the International Olympic Committee, IOC, to suspend planning for the Olympic boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020. This announcement was accompanied by a statement of the IOC’s intention to initiate a full inquiry into the internal governance arrangements of the International Boxing Association, AIBA. At present, it is my understanding that the IOC has not yet made a final decision on the inclusion of boxing at the 2020 Olympic Games.

It is important to clarify that international sport organisations, such as the IOC, are independent, autonomous bodies that are responsible for deciding their own operational procedures and competition rules. No government has a role or function in such decision making.

As we know, boxing is our most successful Olympic sport. We have won about 31 medals in the history of the modern Olympics, 16 of which have come in boxing and seven of those were in the last three Olympic Games. There is no doubt that we have a number of really good prospects for Tokyo so it is critically important that we would have this matter resolved. My primary concern in this is for the athletes and to give them certainty. It is very difficult 20 months out from the Olympic Games for an athlete to not know for certain whether their discipline will be included. I want to do whatever I can do to help ensure that certainty is there for those athletes.

I am glad that there is excellent collaboration between Sport Ireland and the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, IABA, on this. I have been in contact with both organisations about this. I contacted them immediately on 30 November to try to ensure that everything that could possibly be done to help the situation is being done and I am confident that is happening. I also understand that on the international front, the IOC has prepared eight possible scenarios around what may happen with boxing but this is certainly something that we will continue to work on and something I am confident that our sports agencies, Sport Ireland and the IABA, are doing everything they can about at the moment.

Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe: Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe I acknowledge the Minister of State's response and I appreciate that there are talks ongoing to get the matter resolved, but as he can see, this is an international issue. The issue that has arisen is not just about the quality of the sport, it is about the governance of the organisations in question. In other words, we have governments issuing warrants to the president of the International Boxing Association who, seemingly, has a precarious background. That is why the IABA has been suspended.

All of this is happening in a situation where we have some of the best athletes coming up in boxing. As the Minister of State said himself, it has given our highest return in recent decades in Olympic medals. It would be a shame going forward, for a sport that anyone in society is able to participate in no matter their creed or financial background, if we did not do enough to get this resolved. Tokyo 2020 is only around the corner.

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin It is and I reiterate that my primary concern is for the athletes. These are the people who basically put their lives on hold, in most cases from the time they are very young, to pursue their dream. To have this level of uncertainty, this relatively close to the Olympics, is just not good enough. It is something that all of the international boxing associations will have to come together on and to work with the IOC to get resolved because at the centre of this are Irish athletes and athletes from other countries who have worked really hard to get to where they are and are now wondering whether they will actually be in Tokyo or not.

On the IABA and Sport Ireland, I am confident that they are doing everything they can possibly do and I am quite happy with the level of interaction that we have had on this to date in terms of trying to get it resolved but I am happy to keep the Deputy informed of developments because it is critically important to the entire sporting nation, given our recent successes. I look at Kellie Harrington's recent success in particular. Kellie and many others have really great prospects for Tokyo 2020 and we want to ensure they have the best possible preparation in advance of that.

Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe: Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe The Minister of State fobbed me off again with glossy answers. I have two straight questions. Has the Minister of State spoken to the Irish Athletic Boxing Association?

When the Minister was in the capital of the US, Washington DC recently - where they have initiated concerns about the president of the International Boxing Association - attending the World Anti Doping Agency conference where he made tremendous deliberations, did he not use the opportunity to speak to representatives of the other political bodies that attended that meeting and ask them what was happening with the international boxing situation? Given the Minister's remit in this jurisdiction and the manner in which he is always able to put his hand in someone else's pie, will he tell us whether he talked to them about it in America? That was only two months ago and this issue has been hanging in the balance for over 12 months. We seem to be getting no progress and the future of Irish boxing is in jeopardy because if we do not get recognition at the Olympics it causes trouble.

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin To be very clear, on 30 November, the very day the IOC made its announcement, I was in direct contact with the IABA asking it to use its influence internationally to try to get this matter addressed and the IABA has called for an emergency meeting of European federations.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Can I respond to that?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy No, I am going to move on.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The Deputy had a question for me.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy I am sorry.

Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe: Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe I asked the Minister a question.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy The time is up and I am moving to Question No. 4 in the name of Deputy Coppinger.

Tender Process

 4. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross if he will report on the tendering of Bus Éireann routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52230/18]

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger I ask about the plans of the National Transport Authority, NTA, and by extension the Minister and this Government because I do not believe that there is any independence between them, to privatise public transport and I particularly ask about the impact on Bus Éireann workers and on commuters from the race to the bottom that is being pursued and the rigged system that seems to be operating whereby Bus Éireann is not really allowed to compete for its own services at all?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I thank Deputy Coppinger for the question. The question appears to be on the tendering of Bus Éireann routes and asks me to make a statement on the matter. I will respond to the other part of the question later if the Deputy wishes.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding relating to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day to day operations of public transport or in public service obligation, PSO, contract arrangements.

It is a statutory function of the National Transport Authority, under the Dublin Transport Authority Act, 2008, and EU Regulation 1370/2007, to determine the appropriate mix of directly awarded and competitively tendered PSO services.

In 2015, as part of the bus market opening, the NTA sought expressions of interest from public transport operators to operate bus services on certain routes in the Dublin metropolitan, Dublin commuter and Waterford areas. This resulted in approximately 10% of PSO services which were operated under direct award by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus being competitively tendered. As the Deputy is aware, Bus Éireann won the contract for delivery of the Waterford services which are expected to commence in March 2019. Go-Ahead Ireland was announced as the winner of the other competitions, including the Dublin commuter competition for certain commuter routes on the Kildare corridor into Dublin previously operated by Bus Éireann. It is expected that Go-Ahead Ireland will commence operations on the Kildare corridor routes in quarter 2, 2019.


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