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 Header Item Road Projects Status (Continued)
 Header Item Animal Welfare

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 991 No. 2

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Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding of the national roads programme. The design, planning and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2015, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. This also includes the improvement, upgrading and maintenance of the road network. Once I have put in place funding arrangements with TII, it is a matter for TII to distribute the funds to the various local authorities, including Roscommon County Council. Therefore, within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter, in the first instance, for TII. The National Development Plan 2018-2027 marks a significant step forward in terms of restoring national road funding to the levels needed to maintain the national road network in a steady-state condition and to allow for investment in road improvement schemes.

Each year, the safety section of TII carries out a collision analysis of the entire national road network, in compliance with the EU Road Infrastructure Safety Management, RISM, Directive, to identify locations that have high concentrations of collisions. The 1 km section of the N4 referred to by the Deputies includes two junctions at Croghan and Cootehall. These junctions were identified through the HD15 safety programme and improvements were made by Roscommon County Council in late 2016-early 2017 in terms of signage and lining improvements, including arrows.

Further to meeting with a delegation from Roscommon in December 2018, TII agreed to fund a scheme at this location, subject to a feasibility report from Roscommon County Council. TII provided funding for this scheme in January 2019 on receipt of this feasibility report from Roscommon County Council. TII understands that a design report and road safety audit has since been carried out on this scheme. It should be noted that Roscommon County Council is the road authority for this scheme and any further actions are currently with Roscommon County Council.

In addition to this, TII is maintaining an ongoing rolling programme of minor works projects in the area. County Roscommon has four schemes included in this programme and these are: the N61 Coolteige scheme, main construction contract is completed, an archaeological testing contract is ongoing; the N60 at Oran, construction is ongoing; the N61 Ballymurray to Knockcroghery, technical advisers have been appointed by Roscommon County Council to progress the project through the planning and design phases; and the N61 Clashaganny to Tulsk, route options are currently being assessed.

I understand that local residents have begun a campaign to have the two junctions at Cootehall and Croghan addressed due to safety concerns and I fully understand their concerns. I would like to emphasise that I am committed to the maintenance and development of our road network across the country and I support any targeted investment that would improve road safety.

As I have previously outlined, TII's safety section carries out assessments of the network under the HD15 programme which identifies accident clusters and under the HD17 programme which is also carried out under the European directive and which involves route assessments. I very much welcome TII and Roscommon County Council's continued efforts to address safety matters on the N4 route.

Deputy Eamon Scanlon: Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon Those junctions are extremely dangerous. Am I correct in understanding that the Minister said it is back to Roscommon County Council to proceed with these works? The sooner this is done the better. There are regular accidents there. Cars are regularly rear-ended.

There are two other junctions on the N17, that is, the main Sligo-Galway road. One is at Achonry Creamery where there are regular accidents and the gardaí can verify that. Thankfully nobody has been killed there but a serious accident is waiting to happen there. The other is at the junction off the N17 to Ballymote, an extremely busy junction with a lot of traffic. I spoke to the senior engineers of Sligo County Council who are examining the problem but the question of the best way to proceed is down to funding. I welcome the Minister's response about the N4 and I hope we will get some response about the N17.

Deputy Eugene Murphy: Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy We agree with everything the Minister outlined for us. It is exactly what we have told him. My understanding is that Roscommon County Council is not holding this up but that it is a TII issue. If I am wrong, I will accept that. In cases like this, which we highlight on the basis of what we are seeing and what is being reported to us, we need no hold up to ensure such junctions are safe. Accidents occur there regularly. I have spoken to the Minister in the past about the N5 and he has acted and I know there is more to come in respect of safety on that road. I ask the Minister to get involved, if he can, and to make the phone call to see if he can push the work on the N4 on as quickly as possible in the interest of public safety.

Deputy Marc MacSharry: Information on Marc MacSharry Zoom on Marc MacSharry I note the Minister's response and that he said that the blame lies squarely at Roscommon County Council's door. I do not accept that. Once again we are on this administrative merry-go-round where the council says one thing, TII says another, the Donegal regional design office says something else and the Minister says something else again. Last week the Minister brought a memorandum to Cabinet to make the use of driverless cars legal on our roads. With junctions like these a plan such as that proves that the only driverless car is the Government. What is required in this instance is for somebody to lift the phone to a principal officer, to Roscommon County Council's county manager, to TII's chief executive officer and to the regional design office's CEO to ask when they will start this work. The money is there, so let us make these roads safe.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross As I said before, I can do nothing but share the concern of the Deputies and I deeply respect the fact that they are raising a matter of road safety which is raised in every county and borough in the country and it should be given due consideration. The TII and the Roscommon roads authority are the local authority people responsible. I am regularly asked in this House to interfere in something that is not up to me to do but it is perfectly legitimate for the Deputies to raise it because it makes it a matter of public interest. I will make sure that those authorities are aware of what the Deputies said here today. The Deputies cannot really expect me to intervene in individual cases around the country, albeit that they are very worthy.

Deputy Marc MacSharry: Information on Marc MacSharry Zoom on Marc MacSharry Assist.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Road safety is always worthy.

I have explained but would like to explain further the process involved in the safety programmes. Under the HD15 programmes safety works are based on an analysis of accident density and those sections of the network with considerably higher than average accident densities are selected for analysis. Sections of road which are amenable to engineering solutions are prioritised for treatment. In addition, TII operates a HD17 programme based on road safety inspection reports that indicate which issues, for example, signing, lining or safety barriers, need to be addressed on different sections of road and programmes are drawn up to deal with the priority issues. Network safety ranking uses collision data to rank the safety of national roads and to identify high collision locations on the national road network. The results of this collision analysis go towards targeting annual road safety remedial measures. Collision data is recorded by An Garda Síochána. This data are used by the Road Safety Authority, RSA, and TII for research purposes. Each high collision location is investigated by a site assessment team, the inspection of the site's collision history coupled with the site visit determines if an engineering counter measure will improve the safety performance of its location.

Animal Welfare

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Deputy Cahill and I have raised this issue previously. It is very important, particularly with the recent increase in the dairy herd since the abolition of quotas and the resulting number of calves, particularly bull calves in that herd. It is essential that animal welfare is paramount and that we ensure appropriate outlets in the export and domestic markets.

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