Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies received from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 9, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 10 to 21, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 22 to 29, inclusive, answered orally.

Taxi Regulations.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

30 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport when regulations on customer service and standards in the taxi industry will be enacted; if he will report on the main aspects of these regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21216/05]

The Commissioner for Taxi Regulation is a fully independent regulator and the regulation of customer service and standards in the taxi industry is a matter for which he is responsible. I do not have any function in this regard.

The Commission for Taxi Regulation was established as an independent body under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003. The principal function of the commission is the development and maintenance of a new regulatory framework for the control and operation of small public service vehicles, including taxis, and their drivers.

The commission has initiated a broad consultative process and a national review to assess the extent and quality of services currently provided by small public service vehicles and examine existing quality and safety regulations in regard to small public service vehicles and their drivers. I understand that the review process has been completed and the commission expects to publish reports of the findings at the end of the month. This will inform the development of a new national code for the regulation of taxis, hackneys and limousines by the commission.

Rail Network.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

31 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Transport his views on the findings of the recent report on the western rail corridor; the way in which the Government now intends to proceed with this project; if he will provide firm deadlines regarding the development and completion of some or all of the corridor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21164/05]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

57 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport his views on a new report calling for the reopening of the western rail corridor on a phased basis; the estimated cost of the reopening of the line; the proposed timetable for the reopening of the full line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21210/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 57 together.

The chairman of the working group on the western rail corridor, Mr. Pat McCann, presented his report to me last month. I have asked my officials to urgently examine Mr. McCann's report to ensure that it is fully appraised in advance of the finalisation of the multi-annual capital investment framework for transport currently being prepared by my Department. It is in that context that decisions will be made in relation to the future of the western rail corridor.

Based on a study carried out by Iarnród Éireann as part of that company's participation in the working group, the estimated capital cost of restoring the line is of the order of €370 million, excluding rolling stock costs. It would be premature for me to make any further comment on the issue in advance of the impending finalisation and publication of the multi-annual capital investment framework.

Road Safety.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

32 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Transport if, in view of the fatal road accident and the death of a person (details supplied) he will take steps to ensure that the existing regulations are imposed such that safe practices are implemented by those carrying out road reconstruction and road works; if he will conduct an investigation of all fatal and serious road traffic accidents to assess the effect that road conditions and road works have in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21086/05]

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

102 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Transport if he will carry out any investigation into the dangers of temporary road surfaces in view of the recent Meath school bus crash tragedy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21214/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 102 together.

The National Roads Authority, NRA, has published for use in connection with the national road network, specifications for road works and a design manual for roads and bridges and regularly monitors and updates these documents as required. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, DOEHLG, has published similar guidelines.

My Department does not investigate road traffic accidents which are investigated by the Garda Síochána. Depending on the circumstances, other agencies may also conduct investigations. In cases such as the recent school bus tragedy, Bus Éireann and the Health and Safety Authority are already conducting an investigation.

The outcome of all investigations into road traffic accidents are taken into account by the NRA and the DOEHLG in updating the guidance material to which I referred.

Driving Tests.

Jack Wall

Question:

33 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Transport the timeframe for the introduction of his driving test reforms; when the current backlog of driving test applicants will be clear; his plans to increase the number of driving testers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21248/05]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

54 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Transport if he will expand on his recent comments that younger drivers can look forward to lower insurance premiums under the Government’s reform of the driver testing system; the precise steps he will take to reform the testing system; the way in which this will lower insurance costs for younger drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21191/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

223 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which he can expect an increase throughput in respect of driving tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21543/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 54 and 223 together.

My Department and the Department of Finance have reached agreement on a package of measures which will make substantial inroads into the backlog of applicants awaiting a driving test. The package of measures involves increased productivity by way of a bonus scheme for driver testers, the outsourcing of a block of tests to an external body and the recruitment of additional driver testers. The package if fully implemented has the potential to deliver an additional 80,000 driving tests by the end of 2006, which should effectively eliminate the backlog.

My officials have commenced work on implementing each of these measures. Following discussions with the driver testers union, IMPACT, the terms of a bonus scheme are being circulated to driver testers. I look forward to a substantial take up of the scheme by the driver testers. Arrangements are being made to recruit additional testers and I expect invitations to tender for the delivery of the outsourced tests to issue shortly.

According to the motor insurance industry the cost of insuring a driver who has yet to pass the driving test is substantially higher than for a driver with a full licence. Consequently, I expect that the implementation of the package of measures aimed at a substantial increase in test throughput will enable the insurance industry to reduce premium costs proportionately.

Air Services.

Joan Burton

Question:

34 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide details of the new contracts for the latest round of the State-subsidised public service obligation air routes to six regional airports; to state the price difference between the various bids for the routes; if he is satisfied with the level of transparency in the allocation of public service aviation routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21204/05]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

77 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Transport the seat subvention on a flight on each of the internal schedules air services to Galway, Kerry, Sligo, Donegal, Knock and the city of Derry airport which are to be supported by new public service obligation contracts, which come into effect in July 2005. [21104/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 34 and 77 together.

Contracts for the operation of PSO air services for the next three-year term, commencing 22 July 2005, were recently announced. The successful proposals were selected following the completion of an open procurement process, which was conducted in full compliance with the relevant EU rules and regulations governing the award of PSO air service contracts.

Aer Arann has been awarded the contracts for the routes linking Dublin with the regional airports in Donegal, Sligo, Galway and Kerry. Loganair has been awarded the contract for air services on the Knock and Derry routes. Aer Arann will provide three daily return services on the Galway and Kerry routes and two daily return services on the Sligo and Donegal routes. Loganair will provide two daily return services on the Derry route and one return service each day on the Knock route. Scheduled departure times on all routes will continue to enable passengers, particularly business passengers, to make same-day return journeys. It remains open to the appointed air carriers to provide additional non-PSO services on the routes in question.

The total maximum contracted subvention for the three-year contract term for the provision of air services on all six routes is €45.8 million. Based on projected passenger numbers and the maximum subvention levels specified in the new contracts, the average subvention per passenger per flight on each route would be as follows: Derry-Dublin, €78; Donegal-Dublin, €62; Sligo-Dublin, €51; Knock-Dublin, €87; Galway-Dublin, €37; and Kerry-Dublin, €28.

With regard to the price difference between the bids received, information of that nature would be considered commercially sensitive by the various airlines concerned.

Both Loganair and Aer Arann have provided a high quality service under the PSO programme to date and I am confident this will continue under these new contracts. The proposed new timetables will provide convenient flight times for business travellers and tourists and continued growth in passenger numbers at the regional airports is anticipated. The continuation of Government support for regional air services will have a very positive impact on regional development through increased economic activity, tourism and employment.

Taxi Regulations.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

35 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport his plans to introduce a new complaints procedure to address abuse or overcharging by taxi drivers; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the National Taxi Drivers Union claims it has received far more complaints than the official 425 claimed for 2004 by the Garda Carriage Office; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that procedural difficulties in lodging a complaint with the Garda is a deterrent for many persons who wish to make complaints regarding taxi drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21209/05]

The Commissioner for Taxi Regulation is an independent regulator and, in accordance with the provisions of section 51 of the Taxi Regulation Act 2003, he is required to set up a procedure to consider complaints from members of the public and users and intending users of taxis, hackneys and limousines. This procedure will cover complaints in respect of the condition and cleanliness, the conduct and behaviour of a driver, overcharging or other matters relating to fares charged by a driver for the hire, and matters relating to the hiring of a small public service vehicle. I understand the regulator will publish in the coming weeks his proposals for regulating the market, which will include a formalised complaints procedure.

Information in regard to current complaints involving taxi drivers is not available in my Department and the investigation of such complaints is currently the responsibility of the Garda Síochána. I would hope that any difficulties that may be experienced in regard to the current complaints procedures will be addressed in the context of the development of new complaint procedures by the Commission for Taxi Regulation.

Road Network.

Pat Breen

Question:

36 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to any negotiations currently taking place relating to a proposal for the State to buy out the West Link toll bridge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21172/05]

Brendan Howlin

Question:

85 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Transport if the NRA has yet reported to him on the outcome of his engagement with NTR in relation to the current contract for the M50 toll bridge; if so, the details of its report and the action he is taking on foot of it; and if not, when he expects the NRA to report to him on the matter. [21242/05]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

107 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport if he has been informed by the NRA on its talks with the NTR; if he has received a report from the NRA on these talks; the central issues which are on the agenda during these talks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21227/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 36, 85 and 107 together.

I am aware that, in the context of the upgrade of the M50 and my policy objective to move to open road tolling, the National Roads Authority, NRA, is in negotiation with NTR on a range of issues affecting the West Link toll agreement. Any matters arising from the NRA's negotiations with NTR will be a matter in the first instance for the NRA to consider.

The NRA will report to me on the outcome of its engagement with NTR, including any implications for the current agreement. I am anxious to see the various M50 related issues progressed as rapidly as possible, including the move to open road tolling, and I expect, therefore, to receive the outcome of the negotiations from the NRA at the earliest possible date.

Road Traffic Offences.

Willie Penrose

Question:

37 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Transport the position with regard to plans to change legislation to provide for the use of speed cameras to detect motor insurance and tax offences; if he has had any further discussions with the Data Protection Commissioner on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21250/05]

There are no immediate plans to provide for the use of speed cameras to detect motor insurance related offences. The Road Traffic Acts provide that evidence produced by electronic or other apparatus, including a camera, can be tendered in court as a prima facie proof of specified offences. Offences related to motor insurance and motor tax are not specified in the legislation.

I have not had any discussions with the Data Protection Commissioner on this matter. However, I understand that the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has been considering the use of cameras in respect of the detection of motor tax offences.

While I have an open mind regarding the application of a camera system for the detection and enforcement of motor insurance offences, such an approach presents a number of technical problems concerned with establishing prima facie that an insurance-related offence was committed. These would have to be resolved before a camera-based approach to the detection of the offences in question could become operational.

My Department is currently in consultation with the Irish motor insurance industry and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government about the development of a single real-time motor insurance related database for all registered vehicles. Such a database would streamline compliance with certain provisions of the fourth motor insurance directive of the EU but would also have the potential for significantly improved motor insurance compliance rates.

Furthermore, developments are taking place at EU level on an electronic vehicle identification, EVI, scheme. These developments also have the potential for more effective enforcement of road traffic law including motor insurance requirements.

Cycle Facilities.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

38 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport if his Department favours the introduction of contra-flow cycle lanes on one-way roads, which have proved highly successful in other European cities in improving conditions for cyclists. [21101/05]

The statutory basis for the use of cycle tracks is set out in the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 and 1998.

A design manual for cycle facilities entitled Provision of Cycle Facilities — National Manual for Urban Areas was published in March 1998 by the Dublin Transportation Office, DTO. The manual comprises a comprehensive set of guidelines for the design and provision of cycle facilities and established a range of circumstances in which contra-flow cycle tracks may be provided.

The provision of any cycle facilities is a matter for the determination of each local authority.

Air Services.

Seán Ryan

Question:

39 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Transport if he has met with Aer Lingus representatives to discuss the scrapping of the airline’s routes to Orlando and Washington in the United States; the efforts he will make to ensure that other routes to the US are maintained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21208/05]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

109 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if he is satisfied with the decision of Aer Lingus to end its service to Orlando; if Aer Lingus’s service to Los Angeles is secure in the longer term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21161/05]

I propose to take Question Nos. 39 and 109 together.

The issues raised in relation to the operation of services by Aer Lingus are day-to-day matters for the airline, taking account of its commercial mandate. In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to intervene.

In announcing the cessation of the Orlando service from 12 January 2006, Aer Lingus advised that the decision was reached following the failure of the IMPACT cabin crew to agree to necessary work practice changes.

Aer Lingus believes that there is significant growth potential, particularly on long-haul routes, provided it has the appropriate cost base and access to funds to finance aircraft acquisition. As a result of the recent decision on the sale of a majority shareholding, the Government, for its part, is ensuring that the necessary funds will be made available to the company. It is, therefore, imperative that Aer Lingus management and staff urgently agree on the changes necessary to achieve the appropriate cost base and operational flexibility essential to support a sustainable growth plan.

Road Traffic Offences.

Michael Noonan

Question:

40 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Transport if it remains his intention to legislate for random breath-testing of motorists; when such legislation will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21226/05]

Joe Costello

Question:

47 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to a recent National Safety Council survey that found that almost 40% of drivers admit to drink-driving; when he will introduce the legislation for random breath-testing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21215/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 47 together.

The question of the adoption of changes in the circumstances where the driver of a vehicle can be made the subject of a preliminary roadside breath test has been the subject of considerable debate and consideration for some time. The first Government road safety strategy, which related to the period 1998 to 2002, indicated that while the Government would consider the possibility of some change to the position that prevailed in advance of the publication of that strategy, it did not envisage the adoption of the unqualified application of random breath-testing by the end of the period in question. Subsequently, the Road Traffic Acts were amended to provide that the gardaí are now empowered to require that all drivers involved in road collisions or detected committing any traffic offences must submit to roadside breath tests. This is in addition to the power to demand that a driver who in the opinion of a garda has consumed alcohol must submit to such a test.

The current road safety strategy recommends that the introduction of random breath-testing should be pursued within its operational timeframe of 2004 to 2006. Against that background, I am examining the development of a scheme for a more general basis for roadside testing.

To allow for the operation of full random breath-testing needs to be considered very carefully. Drink-driving laws have historically been the subject of regular scrutiny in our courts. I do not intend to pursue any policy initiative in this area until I am satisfied that a more generally applied system of roadside testing provides clear potential for improving road safety on a sustained basis for the future.

The results of a survey carried out by Lansdowne Market Research on behalf of the National Safety Council were published in association with the joint NSC-Garda Arrive Alive campaign, which I launched on 30 May. The results of the survey support the contention that addressing the issue of drink-driving must remain a key focus of road safety policy and traffic law enforcement. The two compelling messages that can be taken from the survey are that while a percentage of drivers continue to drink and drive, there is support for the strict enforcement of the laws relating to drink-driving.

Public Transport Access.

Richard Bruton

Question:

41 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if Dublin Bus will reach its target of having 60% of its fleet fully accessible to those with disabilities by 2006; if Irish Rail will meet its target of 50% full accessibility by 2007; if not, in either case, when these targets will be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21202/05]

Significant investment has been made to date under the national development plan, NDP, in acquiring new buses for Dublin Bus and new rolling stock for Iarnród Éireann. All of the public transport vehicles purchased under the NDP for the services of both companies have been specified to fully accessible standards.

Dublin Bus now operates 486 low-floor, wheelchair accessible buses, which equates to some 45% of its total fleet. A further 70 buses are on order for delivery later this year, at which point low-floor buses will constitute more than 50% of the fleet.

I am not aware that Dublin Bus has set a target of having 60% of its fleet fully accessible. My Department's draft outline sectoral plan under the Disability Bill 2004 provides that all new buses acquired by Dublin Bus will be fully accessible but does not set a percentage target. While the company is currently assessing its future fleet needs, there is a commitment that all purchases of new buses for Dublin Bus will be low-floor and wheelchair accessible as the fleet is upgraded in order to reach my desire of 100% of Dublin Bus fleet being fully accessible.

In my Department's draft sectoral plan there is a commitment that almost half of the rolling stock on InterCity rail services will be accessible by 2007. I am very confident that this target will be met. There are currently over 180 rail carriages and railcars on order for Iarnród Éireann, all of which have been specified to very high accessibility standards. This rolling stock will be brought into service between the end of 2005 and 2008. At that point practically all of the rolling stock providing InterCity services will be fully accessible for people with disabilities. DART and the other suburban rail services of Iarnród Éireann are already accessible for people with disabilities.

Question No. 42 answered with QuestionNo. 29.

State Airports.

Willie Penrose

Question:

43 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Transport if he will commission a study to examine the case for a second airport in the greater Dublin-Leinster area in view of the concerns regarding traffic congestion and noise disturbance which will result from the proposed development of Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21245/05]

Seán Ryan

Question:

65 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Transport if he will commission an independent study, including a cost benefit analysis, with regard to the provision of a second greater Dublin-Leinster-midlands airport as an alternative to the proposed second northern parallel runway at Dublin Airport; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the chief executive of the DAA has stated that he would not be opposed to such a study although such a decision would have to be made by the Department of Transport. [21252/05]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

105 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Transport if he will take into account the need for regional balance and the national spatial strategy in any future decision with regard to the development of a new runway at Dublin Airport. [21107/05]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

192 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if, in relation to his Department’s guidelines for the appraisal and management of capital expenditure proposals in the public sector, he is satisfied that these guidelines have been adhered to in respect of the proposal to develop a new runway at Dublin Airport; if he will provide details of the alternatives, such as a new airport which have been considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21486/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43, 65, 105 and 192 together.

Proposals in regard to the development of Dublin Airport, including the planning and provision of runway capacity, are in the first instance a matter for the Dublin Airport Authority which has statutory responsibility to manage, operate and develop the airport and to provide such facilities and services as it considers necessary for aircraft and passengers.

Dublin Airport will remain the country's main airport serving the needs not just of the travelling public in our capital city and the surrounding counties but also of the country's tourism, business and freight sectors generally. Notwithstanding the greatly welcome increase over recent years in traffic at Shannon and Cork Airports and at the regional airports, Dublin Airport will remain crucial to the national economy. In this regard, passenger traffic through Dublin Airport is expected to grow from over 17 million last year to an estimated 23 million in 2009 and is forecast to increase to 30 million by around 2017.

It is also noteworthy that the national spatial strategy has acknowledged that the expansion of the level of air services from Dublin Airport to a wider range of destinations is essential in the interests of underpinning Ireland's future international competitiveness.

The Dublin Airport Authority submitted its application for planning permission for the new runway to Fingal County Council in December last and the current planning process provides the appropriate forum for all interested parties, including local communities and residents, to have their views and concerns heard and taken into account by the planning authorities.

Dublin Airport has the scope and potential to expand to cater for future growth in air traffic for the foreseeable future. The lands necessary for the new runway began to be acquired in the late 1960s and, as far back as 1972, the then Dublin County Council included the proposed new runway in the county development plan. Thus, as a result of good long-term planning stretching back over four decades, the capacity now exists to provide the proposed second parallel runway and facilitate the continued growth of Dublin Airport.

I have no proposal to commission any study of alternative options for the provision of airport capacity to serve the greater Dublin area. Subject to planning permission, it is envisaged that the Dublin Airport Authority will provide such capacity through the expansion of existing facilities and infrastructure at Dublin Airport. I am informed by the Dublin Airport Authority that all capital projects are subjected to rigorous appraisal procedures and ultimately board approval in compliance with the guidelines issued by the Department of Finance.

International Agreements.

Bernard Allen

Question:

44 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding negotiations between Ireland and the US with respect to the changes to the existing bilateral agreement between both countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21178/05]

I refer the Deputy to a reply to Question No. 490 answered on 14 June 2005, which is set out in full below. The reply states:

My officials have been maintaining contact with the US authorities, regarding issues surrounding the Ireland-US bilateral air transport agreement and the EU-US talks. As part of ongoing dialogue with the US on this issue, officials from my Department travelled to Washington to discuss the Ireland-US bilateral agreement on 6 April 2005, to explore what adjustments to the current Ireland-US arrangements are possible. The meeting was technical and exploratory in nature, and no conclusions were reached at that meeting. Both sides agreed to keep in touch, and to continue to consider how those issues might be moved forward, having regard to the EU-US negotiations.

The recent Transport Council in Luxembourg on 21 April 2005 considered the issue of the EU-US negotiations. The Council authorised the Commission to prepare an outline of what it considers could be the elements of an overall EU-US deal. That outline will, I understand, be presented to the Council at its next meeting at the end of this month. Should the Council approve an outline deal, then the Commission will seek to restart formal negotiations with the US, using that outline as a basis for negotiations. The negotiations would then focus on agreeing the necessary steps and stages to achieve the outline deal. Many uncertainties exist at this stage such as whether an outline deal can be agreed, whether the US will accept the outline deal if agreed in June, and how long it might take to negotiate all of the details of that deal.

I expect to have a clearer view as to how to proceed regarding the Ireland-US bilateral agreement following the Transport Council, since the prospects for a re-engagement of the EU-US process will have a major bearing on the EU and US's attitude to amending the existing Ireland-US bilateral agreement.

Increased access to US destinations under an open skies agreement would provide significant benefits to Irish tourism, trade, economic growth and aviation. However, I am equally clear that Ireland must obtain the best possible transition for Shannon, to enable a smooth phasing-in of open skies with the US in the future and I consider it appropriate for any changes that occur in this area to be on a phased basis over a number of years.

National Car Test.

Mary Upton

Question:

45 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Transport when he will announce adjustments to the current NCT arrangements following the recent review. [21243/05]

I was pleased to initiate the mid-term review of the national car testing service, NCTS, which included a public consultation process. That process concluded on 18 May 2005. The submissions and suggestions for the improvement of the car testing service which were received from interested organisations and individuals during this process are now being assessed by PricewaterhouseCoopers who have been engaged by my Department to manage the mid-term term review of the NCTS.

I understand that a report on the outcome of their review of the NCTS will be submitted by PricewaterhouseCoopers to my Department shortly. Arising from the report, it would be my intention to announce any necessary adjustments to the current NCT arrangements in the course of the next few months.

Vehicle Safety.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

46 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Transport his plans to proceed with the European Union proposals to require safety belts to be fitted to all seats in all new vehicles except for buses used on stage stop routes as approved in May 2005 by the European Parliament, ahead of directives legally requiring the State to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21241/05]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

68 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport his plans to introduce any new regulations for children’s safety on school buses in view of the recent bus crash tragedy in Meath; if he has received the report from the Health and Safety Authority into the crash; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21213/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 68 together.

Last month's approval by the European Parliament of proposals to extend the requirement for safety belts to be fitted to all seats in all new vehicles, except for buses used on stage stop routes, opens the way for the proposals to be adopted as directives by the Council of Ministers. Given that the date by which seat belts must be fitted in new buses will not be settled until the proposals have been adopted as directives, the question of requiring safety belts in new buses at an earlier date cannot be fully assessed at the present time.

In accordance with EU Directive 2003/20, which must be transposed into national law by 9 May 2006, seatbelts must be used where they are fitted. From that date, unless a derogation is secured, the three for two rule, which permits three children to be counted as two passengers when reckoning the passenger capacity of a school bus going to or coming from school or school related activities, will no longer apply in respect of any school bus fitted with safety belts. No such derogation has been sought by Ireland. The Department of Education and Science has made it clear that the three for two arrangement, which only applies to about 14% of the 138,000 school children transported every day, will be phased out as soon as is practicable.

The investigation by the Health and Safety Authority is one of three separate independent investigations in regard to last month's bus accident in County Meath. The other investigations are being carried out by the Garda Síochána and Bus Éireann. I understand that all three investigations are continuing and I will be assessing the implications of the outcome of these investigations for road safety policy when they have been completed.

Question No. 47 answered with QuestionNo. 40.

Infrastructure Development.

Martin Ferris

Question:

48 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Transport if increased attention will be paid to enhancing the rail and road infrastructure in the Shannon and Kerry regions to ensure visitors can move around quickly and easily, for example by facilitating the western rail link, and giving consideration to extending it to Kerry. [20570/05]

The western rail corridor is a proposal that would link Collooney in County Sligo with Ennis in County Clare, thereby creating rail connections between Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford. Because the corridor would be linked to the rail network generally it would also be connected to the Kerry line.

The chairman of the working group set up in June 2004 to examine the western rail corridor proposal recently submitted his report to me. That report is now being examined within my Department in the context of the finalisation of the multi-annual investment framework for transport.

The planning, design and implementation of national roads improvement projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority, NRA, in conjunction with the relevant local authorities.

I am informed by the NRA that the 2005 national roads allocations for the Shannon-Kerry region reflects an increase of 38.4% over the 2004 allocations with an allocation of €139.7 million in 2005 compared to €101 million in 2004.

Significant improvements to the national road network in the area include the completion of the N7 — Limerick southern ring road, phase one, the N18-N19 — Newmarket on Fergus and Hurlers Cross, and the N21 — Castleisland to Tralee. In addition, I am informed that work is continuing on projects such as the N18 — Ennis bypass, the N85 — western relief road, the N21 — Castleisland-Abbeyfeale and the N22 — Gortatlea to Farranfore among others. National road projects in planning also include the N85 — Ennis-Inagh, the N7 — Limerick southern ring road, phase two, the N21 — Castleisland and Adare bypasses and the N22 — Tralee bypass and Tralee to Bealagrellagh.

I am informed by Iarnród Éireann that since 1994 over €50 million has been invested in the Mallow-Tralee railway line as part of the national development plan. This involved the total relaying of the line and the replacement of old track with new continuous welded rail, CWR, and the upgrading of customer facilities on the route.

The Kerry route re-signalling project was completed in February 2005. The project involves the replacing of the old semaphore mechanical signalling system by a computer controlled colour light signalling system on the Tralee-Mallow section of the line. The re-signalling project is designed to deliver significant service improvements to rail customers who use the Tralee-Dublin route.

Planned investment in 120 regional railcars will enable an increase in frequency of services on the Kerry line to two hourly with up to eight trains per day in each direction. These railcars are expected to come into service in late 2007.

By the end of 2005, 67 new purpose built InterCity carriages will be delivered for use on the Dublin-Cork line. When the full fleet is in service in 2006, Iarnród Éireann will begin to deliver an hourly service in each direction on the Cork-Dublin route. The carriages, currently operating on the Cork-Dublin route, will be allocated to other routes, including the services to Kerry.

Service frequency improvements introduced on the Limerick to Ennis line in December 2003 have been hugely successful and have seen a 50-fold increase in weekly passenger numbers on this line.

Transport Strategy.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

49 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Transport the overall transport budget he expects to be able to allocate in the new ten-year transport investment plan. [21103/05]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

75 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Transport when he expects to finalise and announce the ten-year transport package. [21230/05]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

79 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Transport the reason for the delay in the publication of his ten-year transport strategy; if this strategy has been considered by Cabinet; when he will announce this strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21221/05]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

193 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport when his ten-year transport infrastructure plan will be announced; the reason for the undue delay in its publication; the criteria being used by him and his officials to determine the specific projects to proceed with under this plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21509/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49, 75, 79 and 193 together.

I refer to my reply to parliamentary question reference number 21561/05 of today's date. I do not accept that there has been any delay in publishing the plan. An outline of the draft transport investment framework is currently under active consideration by the Cabinet committee on infrastructure, housing and PPPs. When the committee has concluded its consideration I will bring my proposals to Government as quickly as possible.

The transport investment framework will build on the work already completed under the transport element of the NDP. It will also take account of the work already done on investment priorities under the current capital envelope to end 2009 and of the various strategic studies already completed by my Department and its agencies, including A Platform for Change, the strategic rail review and the national road needs study. More specifically, my Department has engaged with Córas Iompair Éireann, the Railway Procurement Agency, the National Roads Authority and the Dublin Transportation Office in order to identify the broad direction and priorities under the investment framework.

It is a fundamental requirement that in so doing we propose an integrated solution to the transport challenges facing us and not merely a sectoral response.

It is not possible to outline the specifics of the draft framework or the level of funding to be made available pending the completion of its consideration by the Cabinet committee and a decision by the Government. However, the broad direction of the framework is expected to be along the following lines: completion of the major inter-urban motorways by 2010 and the upgrading of the rest of the national road network over the period of the framework; transformation of the transport system in the greater Dublin area, with a particular focus on the public transport network; completion of the renewal of the national rail network, with a major focus on the provision of enhanced services; upgrading of the public transport services in provincial cities and in the regions; addressing the management of the demand for transport; ensuring the accessibility of the public transport system to people with disabilities; and mainstreaming the rural transport initiative into the transport investment programme.

Light Rail Project.

John Gormley

Question:

50 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Transport if his Department has a preferred route for the extension of the Luas from Connolly station to the docklands; when such a routing will be agreed; and when a railway order process will commence. [21105/05]

Responsibility for the development of specific proposals for the expansion of the Luas network lies with the Railway Procurement Agency, RPA. I understand that the RPA is at present advancing plans for extension of Luas from Connolly station to a terminal stop in the vicinity of the Point Depot.

Under the provisions of the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001, the statutory approval process for any specific extension of the Luas network is initiated by an application to me by the RPA for a railway order. As Minister with responsibility for granting any such order, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the preferred alignment or any other aspect of the proposed docklands extension in advance of my consideration of the application for a railway order submitted to me.

Semi-State Bodies.

Phil Hogan

Question:

51 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the current financial position of the Aer Lingus pension scheme; the extent to which this scheme is currently in deficit; the way in which he intends to deal with this deficit in advance of any sale; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21163/05]

Richard Bruton

Question:

78 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport his views on moves to remedy the deficit in the Aer Lingus pension fund in the context of privatisation. [18328/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 78 together.

As I have indicated in the House on previous occasions, the pension scheme for general employees in Aer Lingus, the Irish airlines — general employees — superannuation scheme, is a multi-employer scheme which also includes the Dublin Airport Authority, DAA, and SR Technics, formerly FLS, a private sector company. I understand that the employers in the pension scheme have been meeting all their liabilities towards the pension fund in accordance with the rules of the scheme.

In regard to claims about a deficit in the pension scheme, the last actuarial valuation which was carried out in March 2003 satisfied the minimum funding standard included in the Pension Act 1990. The next full actuarial valuation was due in March 2006 but the trustee decided to bring this forward to end March 2005. The preliminary actuarial advice at end March was that the scheme continues to meet the minimum funding standard and as a result, the trustees increased pensions in line with CPI again this year. Aer Lingus is expecting to receive the formal actuarial report shortly. While the payment of pensions is always dependent on the actuarial position of the scheme, I understand that the scheme continues to be able to pay the current level of pensions to existing pensioners. However, the question of whether such pensions can continue to be increased in line with inflation, as has been the practice for years, depends on the performance of the scheme going forward. The position will be clearer once the actuarial report has been issued.

If a deficit did arise, the rules of the pension scheme provide that the trustee has to decide what action to take but the rules also indicate that there is no obligation on the part of either employers or members to increase contributions. I assume that the trustee, employers and staff would work together in those circumstances to try and agree a mutually satisfactory outcome.

I must emphasise that the pension entitlements for employees of commercial State bodies, including Aer Lingus and the DAA, are matters primarily for the trustee, the members of the relevant scheme and the companies involved. The State has no involvement in the funding of these schemes.

The question of an injection of State funds into the pension scheme, from whatever source, does not arise as any such proposal would run counter to established policy in this area and would, in all likelihood, be challenged by the European Commission as a State aid.

Rail Services.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

52 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Transport his plans for the expansion of service including provision of expanded park and ride facilities, along the western suburban rail corridor in the areas of Leixlip, Louisa, Confey, Collinstown, Maynooth and Kilcock and along the southern suburban rail corridor in the area of Celbridge, Hazelhatch and Sallins; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20983/05]

The scheduling and timetabling of rail services is a day-to-day operational matter for Iarnród Éireann to consider. On the basis of projected demand into the future, Iarnród Éireann has submitted a greater Dublin integrated rail network plan, which proposes the enhancement of all suburban and outer suburban services into Dublin. The proposals are being examined by my Department, at present, in the context of the multi-annual investment framework for transport.

Iarnród Éireann will introduce into service this year 36 diesel railcars and I understand that it is planned to place the majority of them on the Sligo-Dublin line to increase capacity and to remove older rolling stock from service. This will be of direct benefit to Maynooth passengers. The balance of the new fleet will be assigned to other outer suburban services to increase capacity on those lines. This capacity increase comes on top of a capacity increase of 24% on the Maynooth line and an increase of up to 160% on the Kildare line delivered in the past 18 months.

I am acutely aware of the need to develop appropriate park and ride facilities in tandem with the expansion of suburban rail services. In this regard, I would point out that a Dublin Transportation Office working group, consisting of representatives of the DTO, Iarnród Éireann, RPA and the local authorities, produced a strategy for the development of rail-based park and ride facilities in the greater Dublin area in November 2004. My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Callely has recently held a number of meetings with the chairman and officials of the DTO to discuss the findings and recommendations of this strategy. Arising from the meetings, the DTO has now been informed by the Minister of State that capital grants will be provided in appropriate circumstances and subject to a satisfactory business case for the development of park and ride facilities in the greater Dublin area.

State Airports.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

53 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide details on the final cost of the new terminal at Cork Airport; his views on the cost overruns in this project; if the cost of this terminal will be met by the Dublin Airport Authority as promised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21195/05]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

67 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport if the business plans of the three State airports have been finalised and received by him; when these plans will be published; the main recommendations arising from these business plans in relation to each airport; if the plans have not been published, the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21194/05]

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

71 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Transport the position with regard to the proposed sale of the Great Southern Hotel chain; if he intends to pursue a part, or full sale of the group; if he has received a submission on the future of the chain from the Great Southern Hotel group board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21211/05]

Michael Noonan

Question:

83 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Transport his preferred option for the future management of the Great Southern hotels and Aer Rianta International; if a decision has been taken in relation to both these entities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21225/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53, 67, 71 and 83 together.

In keeping with the provisions of the State Airports Act 2004 the board of the Dublin Airport Authority has a statutory mandate to do everything necessary to give effect to the restructuring of the State airports. The Shannon and Cork Airport Authorities were incorporated in September last year and in line with the framework provided by the 2004 Act, these two new authorities will, in due course, own and operate their respective airports once sufficient distributable reserves are available to transfer the relevant assets. Prior to the assets of Shannon and Cork Airports being vested in their respective authorities, their boards are charged with preparing to assume full responsibility for the management and development of their airports. They are also empowered to undertake functions delegated to them, on an agreed basis, by the Dublin Airport Authority. Each of the airport authorities is also required to prepare a comprehensive business plan for its airport.

As part of its business planning process, the Dublin Airport Authority will be considering the future direction of its subsidiaries including the Great Southern hotels group and Aer Rianta International and I will be considering the DAA's proposals in this regard in consultation with the Minister for Finance.

Both I and the Minister for Finance must be satisfied as to the state of operational and financial readiness of the Shannon and Cork Airport Authorities before the assets of the airports are vested in those authorities. The formulation of comprehensive business plans by the boards will be a key aspect in evaluating operational and financial readiness.

The three airport authorities are continuing to work on preparing comprehensive business plans with the Dublin Airport Authority co-ordinating the process. In this context there is a range of issues, including the unsustainable cost base at Shannon Airport, the charges determination process for Dublin Airport which is currently under way by the Commission for Aviation Regulation and the optimum mechanisms for the financing of the new terminal in Cork, that need to be considered.

With reference to cost of the terminal at Cork Airport, the business planning process will provide a basis for determining the most feasible options for carrying through the restructuring. As required under the State Airports Act, the Deputy can be assured that Cork's ability to operate on a fully commercial basis will be fully assessed as part of this process and will be factored into the decisions made. I am informed by the airport authorities that the budgeted cost, including variations, for the major development programme at Cork Airport amounts to approximately €163 million and that the project remains on budget. Approximately half of this relates to the new passenger terminal with the balance for other new facilities including a multi-storey car park, a new fire station, new internal roadways and surface car parks and the replacement of all existing utility services at the airport.

I understand that the Dublin Airport Authority together with its advisers and the contractor have a framework in place for monitoring the project and that the costs to completion are kept under constant review.

Question No. 54 answered with QuestionNo. 33.

Road Network.

Jack Wall

Question:

55 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Transport his policy direction to the NRA in relation to the provision of service areas on motorways to which the NRA should operate. [21246/05]

I have not issued any policy direction to the National Roads Authority, NRA, concerning the provision of service areas on motorways. However, my Department has requested the NRA to review, as a matter of urgency, its policy on the provision of service areas. The NRA has been specifically asked to consider the merits of locating such service areas on motorways as well as at, or close to, motorway interchanges.

Rail Network.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

56 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport the position in regard to the possible opening of a rail connection between Navan and Dublin via Dunboyne. [21233/05]

Iarnród Éireann, in conjunction with Meath and Fingal County Councils, recently completed a feasibility study into the possibility of providing a spur off the Maynooth line at Clonsilla to Pace on the N3 beyond Dunboyne. I understand that the provision of a park and ride site at Pace to cater for Navan traffic has been included in the feasibility study.

I am aware that Iarnród Éireann is at present examining the study. The next step is for Iarnród Eireann to decide if and how it wishes to proceed with this project and I expect a report will be submitted to my Department in the near future.

Question No. 57 answered with QuestionNo. 31.

Dublin Port Tunnel.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

58 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Transport when he expects the port tunnel to open to traffic and the reason for the further delays. [21231/05]

Gerard Murphy

Question:

74 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Transport his views on the huge cost overrun on the Dublin Port tunnel project; the way in which he intends to ensure that the taxpayer does not end up paying for this overrun; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21181/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 74 together.

The construction of the Dublin Port tunnel, including contractual matters related thereto, is a matter for the National Roads Authority, NRA, and Dublin City Council. I understand from the NRA that the estimated final cost of the Dublin Port tunnel is expected to be €751 million, including price variation, against an estimated cost at tender stage of €580 million — year 2000 prices excluding provision for price variation in line with construction inflation indices. The increase is mainly due to the operation of the price variation clause over the period since tender receipt in 2000 to date, with a limited number of other factors, such as higher than anticipated land settlements, impacting on the updated overall project cost.

I also understand that the primary construction work on the port tunnel is expected to be completed in December 2005 and that the tunnel will be open to traffic early in 2006, following commissioning of the tunnel's operations and safety features.

Semi-State Bodies.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

59 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the serious difficulties facing airlines as a result of the ongoing increase in fuel prices; if further price increases will prompt the Government to reconsider its decision to sell a majority stake in Aer Lingus in view of the strategic importance of having such a carrier at a time when other airlines may be going out of business. [21108/05]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

72 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Transport if the privatisation of Aer Lingus has the potential to damage the future competitiveness of the State. [18091/05]

Gerard Murphy

Question:

81 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the progress made in introducing private investment into Aer Lingus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21180/05]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

90 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the amount of money the Government expects to raise from the sale of its majority shareholding in Aer Lingus; the amount of this total which will be reinvested in the national airline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21188/05]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

94 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the guarantees he will provide that the Aer Lingus landing slots at Heathrow Airport will not be sold-off once the Government completes the sale of its majority shareholding in the national airline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21187/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 59, 72, 81, 90 and 94 together.

The Government's recent decision to allow the sale of a majority shareholding in Aer Lingus is the culmination of detailed and comprehensive consideration of the various options facing the company over the past year. The key driver was to ensure that Aer Lingus continues to make a valuable contribution to the economic and tourism development of the country.

Significant growth potential has been identified, particularly on long-haul routes, provided Aer Lingus has the appropriate cost base and access to funds to finance aircraft acquisitions. The Government decision will ensure that funds are available to support that growth and to provide financial security. With access to funds and a competitive cost base, the airline can continue to make a major contribution, flying to more destinations, offering more choice to consumers, opening new markets for tourism and growing jobs.

The Government also decided that in view of the strategic importance of the company, a significant minority stake of at least 25% should be retained, irrespective of the chosen transaction mechanism.

I am well aware that Aer Lingus faces many challenges looking forward, including pressure from rising fuel prices. However, the Government decision provides the basis for good long-term planning and shifts the focus from crisis management to planning for growth.

In relation to arrangements for the investment process, the Minister for Finance and I have moved quickly to engage advisers with the publication on 2 June last of a tender notice inviting proposals from financial and legal advisers. These advisers will advise on the size, type and timing of the Aer Lingus sale transaction as well as execute the chosen transaction.

I have already written to both Aer Lingus and ICTU in relation to implementation of the Government decision. Consultations have begun with the company in this regard and I will be meeting with ICTU on 28 June next.

As the objective for facilitating an equity injection in Aer Lingus is to fund growth and provide financial security, it is clear that any investment transaction must involve the issuing of new shares, thereby allowing the proceeds to go directly to the company. However, decisions on all matters relating to a transaction, including the valuation of the company, will be made at the appropriate time with the assistance of the selected advisers.

Rail Network.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

60 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Transport the criteria used by his Department in deciding to proceed with rail projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21170/05]

Any project being considered for funding by my Department would generally be part of a wider strategic transport objective, such as the national development plan. It would also be expected to be consistent with the national spatial strategy and the relevant regional planning guidelines. My Department would also take into account whether it was consistent with the strategic rail review and any relevant regional transportation strategy such as DTO's A Platform for Change or the Cork area strategic study.

Any project being proposed by Iarnród Éireann, IE, will have received both IE and CIE board approval prior to submission to my Department. When project proposals are received by my Department they are checked for conformity with the guidelines for the appraisal and management of capital expenditure proposals in the public sector as published by the Department of Finance. In the case of projects costing over €20 million my Department seeks business cases or financial-economic cost benefit analyses. Depending on the nature and complexity of the project it may be subject to further external analysis by independent consultants to test the robustness of the costs as presented and of the economic and financial evaluation undertaken by the company.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

61 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the progress made to date in the development of a new rail station at Spencer Dock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21228/05]

I understand that Iarnród Éireann is still examining possible locations for a new railway station in the city centre area. I expect to hear from the company when this work is complete.

Penalty Points System.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

62 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport his Department’s role in the computerisation of the driver penalty points system and the action he is taking to address the continued delay introducing it. [21239/05]

Penalty points are recorded on the licence record of an individual on the national driver file, which is held and administered by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Points are endorsed on the licence record on receipt of either a notification from the Garda Síochána of the payment of a fixed charge, or notification of a conviction from the Courts Service in respect of an offence which attracts penalty points.

While the Department of Transport has no direct role in the computerisation of the penalty points system, responsibility for the legislation governing the penalty points system and for ensuring that points are recorded on the driver licence record on receipt of the appropriate notifications rests with the Department. The Department is represented on the working groups set up to implement the penalty points system.

When the penalty points system is fully operational it will involve electronic transfer of data between the national driver file and the computer systems of the Garda Síochána and the courts. The system will not become fully operational until the computerised fixed charge processing system has been fully rolled out by the Garda Síochána.

Road Safety.

Liz McManus

Question:

63 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Transport when the Rules of the Road booklet will be updated by his Department; the expected date of publication; and will he ensure that an electronic version will be provided as part of any updated booklet. [21237/05]

My Department is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of the Rules of the Road booklet. It is the intention that a draft of the new booklet will shortly be published on the Department's website and that comments and submissions will be invited from the public and interested parties. The new booklet will be finalised following consideration of any submissions received and it is intended that the booklet will be made available in the autumn. The new booklet will be available on the Department's website.

Rail Network.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

64 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Transport when it is intended to double the track between Maynooth and Kilcock in order that the frequency of train services can be improved to this rapidly developing area; if the work has been costed; his estimate of the length of time it will take to complete such works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20982/05]

The statutory responsibility for the provision of railway services rests with Iarnród Éireann. The Iarnród Éireann greater Dublin integrated rail network plan does not include plans for double-tracking the line from Maynooth to Kilcock. However the situation will be kept under review in the light of any developments in the catchment area.

Question No. 65 answered with QuestionNo. 43.

Simon Coveney

Question:

66 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Transport when he will make a decision on providing a rail link to and from Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21182/05]

The programme for Government contains a specific commitment to develop a metro for Dublin with a link to Dublin Airport. The Railway Procurement Agency has submitted to my Department a detailed business case for a metro from the city centre to Dublin Airport while Iarnród Éireann has submitted proposals for an integrated rail network in the greater Dublin area including a rail connection to Dublin Airport.

In the light of the announcement by the Minister for Finance in his Budget Statement of agreement in principle to a ten-year capital investment envelope for transport, work is under way in my Department on a ten-year transport investment framework which will, inter alia, address the issues referred to. An outline of the draft investment framework is currently under active consideration by the Cabinet committee on infrastructure, housing and PPPs. I intend to bring proposals to Government in due course once the Cabinet committee has concluded its work.

Question No. 67 answered with QuestionNo. 53.
Question No. 68 answered with Question 46.

Airport Development Projects.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

69 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Transport the details of a project recently decided by the Cabinet to give the go-ahead to the Dublin Airport Authority to build a second terminal at Dublin Airport; the location of the chosen site for the second terminal; when work will commence on this project; when it is expected to be fully operational; the overall cost of this project; when work on a new pier D will begin and be completed; the cost of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21223/05]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

92 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Transport his views on the call that there have to be changes in work practices by Dublin Airport Authority workers who are to be employed in the proposed second terminal; if such changes are being developed; his further views on whether changes in work practices at the airport are compatible with the terms of agreement signed by the Taoiseach and the trade unions as part of the mid-term review of Sustaining Progress in July 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21200/05]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

99 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Transport the details of the reasons behind the recent Government decision on the construction of a second terminal at Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21189/05]

Damien English

Question:

113 Mr. English asked the Minister for Transport the cost of development of a second terminal at Dublin Airport; the details of the anticipated demolition costs necessary to develop this terminal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21201/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

201 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the number of terminals which are proposed for Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21511/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

202 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport when a final picture will emerge in respect of Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21512/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

203 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his plans for the use of Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21513/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69, 92, 99, 113 and 201 to 203, inclusive, together.

The Government decision of 18 May last was based on detailed consideration of how best to provide additional terminal capacity at Dublin Airport. Two key considerations were the importance of ensuring the continued overall operational integrity and strategic development of Dublin Airport to meet the needs of current and future users of the airport, both airlines and passengers, combined with the need to ensure that additional terminal capacity is provided within a reasonable timeframe to meet the growth in air traffic.

The Dublin Airport Authority is now in the process of putting in place practical arrangements to deliver the second terminal and additional pier capacity as quickly as possible. This includes Dublin Airport Authority engaging with airline customers to ascertain their requirements. Final decisions on the location and specifications for the second terminal will be made after this consultation with airlines and independent verification of the project scope and costings. The Dublin Airport Authority has indicated that its preliminary assessment indicates that the cost of the new terminal is likely to be in the range €130 million to €190 million depending on the required level of complexity. In addition, site preparation and support infrastructure costs, such as roads, aprons and contact stands, are likely to be in the range of €70 million to €100 million.

As regards Pier D, Dublin Airport Authority has indicated that the estimated cost of delivering the new pier will be between €83 million and €93 million depending on the planning requirements in relation to access to the pier from the existing terminal building.

The second terminal is expected to be operational in 2009 with the extra pier capacity due to come on stream in 2007. The Government decision provides that the operator of the second terminal will be determined following an open tender process. Selection of the successful tenderer will be on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender as judged by an independent expert panel. It is intended that the agreement between the Government and ICTU which was reached in tandem with last year's mid-term review of Sustaining Progress will be reflected appropriately in arrangements for the conduct of the competition. It is too early to determine the work practices which will be required for the operation of the second terminal. A clearer picture will become available once a decision is made on the final terminal specification. Work practices in the second terminal would be a matter for negotiation by the terminal operator.

In the longer term, the number of terminals and indeed the provision of infrastructure in general at Dublin Airport will be dictated by the growth in air traffic through the airport.

Garda Traffic Corps.

Joe Costello

Question:

70 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the position with regard to the establishment of the Garda traffic corps; if he has met with the Department for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to discuss staffing levels and the timescale proposed for full operation of the unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21190/05]

I was pleased by the announcement late last year by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in relation to the establishment of a dedicated corps of gardaí, under a distinct management structure within the overall force, which will provide for the significant enhancement of the deterrent effect that emanates from high levels of traffic law enforcement.

The question of staffing levels and the timescale proposed for full operation of the unit is a matter for the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, however, for the continuing close communications between our two Departments on these matters, I understand that the timescale for the development of the traffic corps remains as set out in the original statement of the Minister for Justice late last year, that is a 1,200 member corps by 2008.

Question No. 71 answered with QuestionNo. 53.
Question No. 72 answered with QuestionNo. 59.

Cycle Facilities.

John Gormley

Question:

73 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Transport the stage of development the proposed Sutton to Sandycove coastal cycle route is at; the estimated cost, the design and timetable for the construction of the project; and the agencies responsible for its completion. [21106/05]

The S2S — Sutton to Sandycove — proposal involves the provision of a 22 km promenade and cycleway around Dublin Bay from Sutton to Sandycove, with links to the city centre. The plan entails linking the existing and planned walkways and cycleways around Dublin Bay by providing linking schemes and by upgrading some of the facilities that already exist.

I support the concept and am pleased to say that the DTO traffic management grant committee approved Exchequer funding for a feasibility study for the proposed scheme. The DTO, the Dublin Regional Authority, and the three local authorities in whose areas the scheme would be, that is, Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Fingal County Council, participated in the steering committee for the feasibility study. The report is now complete, and is being assessed by the DTO and its committees. I look forward to being advised by the DTO on its recommendations as to future progress on the scheme.

Question No. 74 answered with QuestionNo. 58.
Question No. 75 answered with QuestionNo. 49.

Rail Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

76 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the efforts he has made to date to provide park and ride facilities adjacent to all commuter rail stations throughout the greater Dublin area; if he has had discussions with any of the service providers on this issue; the outcome of any such discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21196/05]

I am very aware of the need to develop appropriate park and ride facilities in tandem with the expansion of public transport services. In this regard, I point out that a Dublin Transportation Office working group, consisting of representatives of the DTO, Iarnród Éireann, the RPA and the local authorities, produced a strategy for the development of rail-based park and ride facilities in the greater Dublin area in November 2004. In the recent past, I have had a number of meetings with the chairman, the chief executive and officials of the DTO on the findings and recommendations of this strategy. In the light of my meetings, I have now informed the DTO that capital grants will be provided, in appropriate circumstances and subject to a satisfactory business case, for the development of park and ride facilities in the greater Dublin area.

Question No. 77 answered with QuestionNo. 34.
Question No. 78 answered with QuestionNo. 51.
Question No. 79 answered with QuestionNo. 49.

Appointments to State Boards.

Billy Timmins

Question:

80 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Transport the way in which the board of the National Roads Authority is appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21198/05]

Appointments to the board of the National Roads Authority, NRA, are made in accordance with section 28 of the Roads Act 1993. Under the Act, I as Minister, appoint board members for a period of five years or less. Each member appointed must, as stated in section 28 (1)(d) of the Roads Act 1993, be a person who in the opinion of the Minister has wide experience and competence in relation to roads, transport, industrial, commercial, financial or environmental matters, local government, the organisation of workers or administration.

Question No. 81 answered with QuestionNo. 59.

Rail Services.

Dan Boyle

Question:

82 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Transport the estimate of the number of additional lorry journeys that will take place between Dublin and Cork each day as a result of the proposed cancellation of the thrice daily container rail freight service between the two cities; and the possibility of allowing another rail freight operator access to the use of the rail network to provide freight services in view of the continuing withdrawal by Iarnród Éireann from the rail freight business. [21100/05]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

117 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Transport if he has considered allowing private sector operators to tender for the delivery of container rail freight services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21222/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 117 together.

Iarnród Éireann held wide-ranging consultations with business interests around the country to identify those freight activities which are best suited to rail transport. The company has developed a business plan based on a strategy with regard to freight which is to: break even by 2006; increase the profitability of the existing profitable business; withdraw from those businesses that are heavily loss-making; and target trainload traffic.

Iarnród Éireann remains in the business of carrying containers by rail on the basis of full trainloads, point-to-point. The company has decided to cease container operations for volumes less than full trainloads. Due to the low volume of traffic between Dublin and Cork, the company has ceased service on this line. The company has indicated that this will have a very minor impact on volumes of road hauled container traffic. The volume of traffic on this line is not guaranteed at any time and is seasonal in character — around 20 containers will transfer over the course of a full day.

Iarnród Éireann continues to pursue a policy of growing its rail freight business where opportunities present. However, as in all businesses, it must adjust the freight business from time to time to reflect market realities.

In accordance with Directive 2004/51/EC the market for international rail freight services will be opened from 1 January 2006. This will enable any railway undertaking established in the EU, whether publicly or privately owned, to provide international freight services on the existing Irish rail network. From 1 January 2007, the domestic freight market will be opened. Under the proposed arrangements CIE, as the owner of the rail network, will be entitled to recoup the costs associated with allowing access to their network. In preparation for market opening, my Department is open to discussions with any interested operator.

Question No. 83 answered with QuestionNo. 53.

Road Safety.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

84 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport the budget in 2005 for the safe routes to school programme; the number of schools that are involved; his plans to extend the programme; and the way in which he intends to proceed in that regard. [21097/05]

I refer the Deputy to my response to parliamentary question reference number 20787/05.

The Dublin Transportation Office initiated six safer routes to school projects during 2002-03. These were in Griffith Avenue, involving four separate schools: Donabate, two schools; Malahide, one school; Bray, one school; Lucan, one school; and Shankill, one school. Subsequently, the schools in Lucan and Shankill decided not to continue participating in the initiative.

This pilot programme was designed to show what needs to be done to achieve a better balance in the modes used to travel to school. The pilot programme consisted of: implementing a set of infrastructure improvements in the road environment surrounding each school; and organisational and consultation activities intended to show school management and parent committees how to manage the mobility needs of the children attending the school.

The total cost of the programme was €1.66 million, predominantly for the infrastructure changes, for example, pedestrian crossings, cyclepaths, cycle parking facilities within school grounds, bus lay-bys etc. No moneys have been expended on projects during 2005. The DTO contributed considerable in-house resources to managing the initiative through extensive liaison with stakeholders, and through the preparation of documentation, surveys etc.

The table set out below shows the breakdown of moneys allocated to each school project, and also the outcome in terms of changes to behaviour and mode choices made by pupils and their parents. The table shows that the results of the pilot programme are encouraging. The main finding of the pilot project was that a school requires a well-developed and interested parent-school team to bring the initiative to fruition. Simply providing infrastructure without the managerial effort of parents, pupils and school managers is likely to fail.

The DTO is currently examining the potential of widening the scope of the initiative by arranging for the inclusion of a school travel theme within the existing green schools programme. The green schools programme is run by An Taisce and is already present in over half the schools across the country, with the rate of subscription growing. The programme has the potential to assist working groups, involving parents, pupils and staff, to develop a school travel plan to increase the numbers of pupils walking, cycling or taking the bus to school and to reduce the number of cars coming to the school.

I have asked the DTO to advise me as to how it might advance this initiative with a view to getting implementation in a wider range of schools throughout the country.

Cost of Safer Routes to School Projects and Outputs.

Project

Number of Schools

Cost

Outcome

Griffith Avenue

4

609,000

Walking Bus established. Numbers not quantified yet.

Donabate

2

612,411

11% increase in walking, 1% increase in cycling, 9% increase in bus use, 22% decrease in car use.

Malahide

1

219,000

2% increase in cycling, 1% increase in walking, 1% increase in car use, 3% decrease in bus use.

Bray

1

168,000

6% increase in cycling, 6% decrease in car use.

Question No. 85 answered with QuestionNo. 36.

Public Transport.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

86 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the quality bus corridors which will be developed in 2005; the location of and investment envisaged in each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21160/05]

The quality bus network office and the local authorities are progressing the delivery of some 18 separate bus priority schemes in the greater Dublin area during the course of 2005 and into 2006. These schemes, costing an estimated €47.05 million, have been approved by the DTO traffic management committee.

The following table sets out the itemised list of projects as it currently stands. The completion date of individual projects will depend on the pace of design work and the outcome of public consultation and tender processes. In addition to the projects listed in the table, it should be noted that the local authorities and the QBN office have been progressing QBC schemes which were planned prior to 2005. The main schemes include the N11, Foxrock-Bray; Howth; the Ballymun extension; Swords; Grange Castle Parkway; the Belgard Fonthill orbital route; and Nangor Road-south Clondalkin.

Table 1: Approved QBN projects 2005.

Code

Name

Estimated Cost (€m)

T-QBN-701

Dunshaughlin

2.50

T-QBN-104

Blackrock QBC (Merrion Road: Dublin City Council)

3.50

T-QBN-302

Snugborough Road

2.50

T-QBN-704

Bracetown

0.05

T-QBN-106

Earlsfort Terrace / Stephen’s Green

1.00

T-QBN-205

Blackrock (Dún Laoghaire Rathdown)

3.00

T-QBN-303

Blanchardstown Road North and South

4.00

T-QBC-402

Naas Road (Phases 2 & 3)

3.50

T-QBN-110

South Clondalkin (Phase 3)

2.50

T-QBN-316

N3 inbound

2.00

T-QBC-407

Newcastle Road Bus Priority Measures

1.00

T-QBN-117

Waterloo Road

1.00

DLR-QBN-005

Foxrock Church to Dún Laoghaire (Kill Lane)

5.00

T-QBN-203

Kilmacud QBC

3.00

T-QBN-122

Blanchardstown SuperQBC

4.00

T-QBN-114

Pearse Street (Phase 2)

4.00

T-QBN-317

Huntstown Bus Gate

0.50

T-QBN-121

Malahide Super QBC

4.00

Total

47.05

Penalty Points System.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

87 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the practice whereby dangerous drivers who accrue penalty points trade these points with other drivers; if he considers the penalties for such an offence offer a sufficient deterrent; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the practice of speed cameras photographing car licence plates is flawed in that it identifies only the car and not the actual driver of the speeding vehicle; his plans to address this anomaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21212/05]

The endorsement of penalty points may result from one of two situations. These occur where a person is convicted of the commission of an offence that attracts penalty points or where a person decides voluntarily to pay a fixed charge, which results in the matter not being referred to the courts for determination. If the motorist pays the fixed charge he-she will be accepting the consequence that the prescribed number of penalty points will be endorsed on his or her driving licence record.

In certain instances, it is not possible to identify the driver of a vehicle where an alleged offence is being committed. This situation arises where the speeding offence is detected by a speed camera. In such circumstances, a notice is issued by the Garda Síochána to the registered owner of the vehicle concerned. This notice conveys details of the alleged offence and indicates that no prosecution will be initiated if the driver pays a fixed charge within a maximum 56-day period.

This notice also conveys to the registered owner that if he or she was not driving or otherwise using the vehicle at the time of the commission of the offence they should furnish the name and address of the person who was driving the vehicle to the gardaí. It is an offence for a registered owner to supply information that is, to his or her knowledge, false or misleading in respect of the notification of the name and address of a driver. That offence attracts a maximum penalty of €1000.

In addition, section 115 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 provides that where the Road Traffic Acts generally apply a requirement on a person to give information in relation to a licence or a vehicle and the person furnishes false or misleading information, he or she is committing an offence for which the penalty is a maximum fine of €1,500 and-or a six month prison sentence.

Section 21 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 provides an appropriate and comprehensive basis for the use of apparatus, including cameras, for the purpose of establishing evidence in respect of a range of traffic offences, including speeding offences. Operational decisions relating to the use of technology to support enforcement are matters for the determination of the Garda Commissioner.

Haulage Industry.

Mary Upton

Question:

88 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Transport the action he intends to take to assist hauliers here who may be put at a competitive disadvantage as a result of UK proposals to impose a new toll scheme with compensation for fuel costs designed to be cost neutral to British drivers; if his attention has been drawn to research which indicates that the new regime will cost businesses here €60 million annually; if he raised this issue at EU level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21244/05]

In November 2001 the UK Treasury published a consultation document, Modernising the Taxation of the Haulage Industry. The purpose of the document was to set out UK Government thinking on its proposal to introduce a form of lorry road-user charging in the UK.

The charge would be implemented to ensure that lorry road-users in the UK contribute on a fairer and more equal basis towards the costs they impose when using UK roads infrastructure. The charge would be levied on all road users regardless of nationality.

A rebate of fuel excise duty would be paid to hauliers using the system and buying fuel in the UK. It is not clear how this element of the scheme will be implemented in detail, but it would appear to be designed to be cost neutral to hauliers in Britain, who purchase their fuel in the UK. However, the scheme could potentially result in extra cost to non-UK hauliers who have purchased lower cost fuel at home, as is the case for hauliers in the Irish Republic. Consequently, Ireland has a special interest in this proposal since Irish hauliers, in addition to bilateral Ireland-UK trade operations, uniquely use the UK as a land bridge to mainland Europe.

My Department is monitoring the development of the proposed scheme to ensure that any charging system put in place will not in practice result in unfair cost to Irish hauliers. Any potential disruption of trade and in particular cross-Border North-South trade must also be avoided.

These concerns have been raised with the UK Treasury and it has indicated a willingness to work closely with my Department when designing the administration of the system and related matters.

The specific issue of UK lorry road user charges has not been formally raised at EU level. However, my Department has raised concerns at EU level in relation to ensuring that multiple charging regimes and toll-charge levels do not impact adversely on the competitiveness of the transport sector and industry generally. I believe the same considerations should apply in the case of the proposed UK charges.

Semi-State Bodies.

Phil Hogan

Question:

89 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Transport if a memorandum of understanding has been finalised between his Department and Irish Rail; the main terms of this memorandum; when it will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21162/05]

Discussions are ongoing with Irish Rail regarding the finalisation of the company's revised memorandum of understanding, MOU, between the Department and the company.

The revised MOU, as well as accounting for public expenditure, will provide a reporting structure for performance indicators from the company. The MOU will contain targets on service quantity and quality as well as detailed financial reporting requirements. Failure to meet the targets agreed will be discussed in the context of the company accounting for subvention and the level of subvention to be allocated for future years. It is hoped that the final document will be ready for presentation to the Government in July.

Question No. 90 answered with QuestionNo. 59.

Public Transport.

Damien English

Question:

91 Mr. English asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the pilot use of hard shoulders for public buses; the results from the pilot project to date; if it is intended to extend this concept; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21174/05]

I have met with Bus Éireann management and it has brought to my attention a number of issues, one of which is the use of hard shoulders. Proposals are now being pursued by my Department to progress how the hard shoulder area could be safely used at "congestion hot spot" locations on national roads, including those linking Dublin and its satellite towns. The objective of such hard shoulder usage is to assist bus operators in meeting their schedules, thereby assisting in the achievement of modal shift from the private car to public transport.

Pilots of this type of bus priority initiative are being developed at present at a number of locations including the northbound and southbound approaches to Dunshaughlin and at Bracetown between Dunshaughlin and Clonee in County Meath, and at various locations on the Naas Road in the South Dublin County Council area.

The quality bus network office of Dublin City Council is currently overseeing tendering and design work as a prelude to having these pilot projects implemented for use by buses. It is expected that some of these pilot projects will be operational in the near future.

The operation of the pilot measures will be monitored with a view to having similar measures introduced at other suitable locations throughout the country.

Question No. 92 answered with QuestionNo. 69.

Freight Traffic.

Dan Boyle

Question:

93 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Transport the most recent figures available for the percentage of freight traffic in this country being carried by rail and by road; the relevant statistics for five, ten and 20 years ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21099/05]

The information requested by the Deputy is as follows: The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Year

Total tonnes-kilometres carried by road and rail (thousand)

Road Share %

Rail Share %

2003

16,296,309

97.6

2.4

2000

12,838,825

96.2

3.8

1995

6,095,457

90.1

9.9

1985

5,121,200

88.3

11.7

Source: CSO Road Freight Transport Survey, Irish Rail.

While the rail freight share of the overall freight market has declined over the period 1985 to 2003, not all freight is amenable to carriage by rail. Current policy in relation to freight is set down in my reply to Questions Nos. 82 and 117 of today's date.

Question No. 94 answered with QuestionNo. 59.

Decentralisation Programme.

David Stanton

Question:

95 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Transport, further to Question No. 76 of 12 May 2005, if any staff of Bus Éireann have indicated that they are willing to move to Mitchelstown as part of the decentralisation programme; if there has been any suitable accommodation located in Mitchelstown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21186/05]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to parliamentary question reference number 13423/05.

Under the decentralisation programme Bus Éireann headquarters posts are to be relocated to Mitchelstown. That position remains unchanged. To date, 86 posts suitable for decentralisation have been identified by the company, however, no employee has indicated a wish to move and this is being examined. Implementation issues, including the identification of accommodation, are being pursued by Bus Éireann. The position still remains unchanged.

Semi-State Bodies.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

96 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport if the review of its services has been completed by Dublin Bus; the recommendations arising from this review; if it has not been completed, when this will occur; when its findings will be published and enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21193/05]

Dublin Bus has told me that the company has appointed international transport consultants to oversee the network review and it is expected that the project will be completed by December 2005.

While the matters arising from the review are a matter for Dublin Bus in the first instance, the company has indicated it will consult with representative groups in relation to the implementation of recommendations.

Road Network.

Pat Breen

Question:

97 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Transport if and when he intends to proceed with legislation to allow for barrier free tolling at the West Link toll bridge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21171/05]

The move from the current toll arrangement on the M50 West Link bridge to a barrier free automated toll collection facility will be completed over a number of stages, involving a phased reduction in the cashier-coin basket lanes with a corresponding increase in payments by automated methods.

My Department is contributing to the process by reviewing the need to change, where necessary, the legislative framework so as to facilitate the introduction of open road tolling. I anticipate, subject to the other priorities on the legislative programme, that the draft legislation will be introduced in autumn of this year.

Rail Network.

Denis Naughten

Question:

98 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Transport the steps he intends to take to upgrade the rail network in the BMW region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20985/05]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Question No. 192 of 1 June 2005. Since 2000, significant improvements have taken place on infrastructure and services in the BMW region.

In the coming days, Iarnród Éireann will begin to take delivery of a fleet of 36 new diesel railcars, most of which will operate on the Dublin to Sligo route. These railcars will be used to increase the reliability and frequency of services on this route. In addition, continuous welded rail on concrete sleepers has been put in place on the whole mainline rail network, including those lines serving the BMW region.

Iarnród Éireann is currently undertaking a network resignalling project on most of its InterCity routes. The new signalling system on the Galway line was completed in 2003, the Sligo line will be completed later this year and work will begin, early in 2006, on the line from Athlone to Westport and Ballina, finishing in 2007. At that point all track-work and signalling on existing operational railway lines serving the BMW region will be of the highest international standards.

To complete the transformation of the rail network, the company will take delivery of a fleet of 120 InterCity railcars, beginning in mid-2007. These railcars will operate on routes serving, among others, Galway, Westport and Ballina. Their introduction to service will allow Iarnród Éireann to begin hourly and two-hourly frequencies on almost all of its InterCity routes.

Proposals for the future upgrade and development of the rail network are being considered in the context of the multi-annual investment framework for transport, which is being prepared by my Department at present.

Question No. 99 answered with QuestionNo. 69.

Parking Regulations.

Liz McManus

Question:

100 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Transport the reason for the continued delay in introducing heavier fines for illegal parking in disabled parking bays; if the consultation process has been completed; and when he expects to introduce the new fines. [21236/05]

Where a person is convicted by a court of committing the offence of parking illegally in a disabled person's parking bay, he or she is liable to a fine not exceeding €800 for a first offence. The maximum fine for a second or subsequent offence is €1,500 and in the case of a third or subsequent offence committed within a 12 month period €1,500 and-or a prison sentence of up to three months.

These levels of maximum fines were established in the Road Traffic Act 2002 and represent very significant increases over the maximum fines that could be applied to that offence under previous legislation, which were €190 or £150 in respect of a first offence and €440 or £350 in respect of a second or subsequent offence. This offence currently comes within the scope of the on-the-spot fines system and, in association with the majority of other parking offences, it attracts an on-the-spot fine of €19.

The Road Traffic Act 2002 provides for the replacement of the on-the-spot fine system with the new fixed charge system. That system currently applies to the offences of exceeding a speed limit and non-compliance with seat belt regulations. Regulations to provide for the rollout of that system to a significant number of additional traffic and parking offences are currently being prepared by my Department in consultation with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Garda Síochána. This extension of the operation of the fixed charge system will include its application to the offence of illegally parking in disabled person's parking bays. The level of the charge for that offence will be pitched at a level significantly higher than that which will apply to other parking offences.

The operation of the fixed charge system is dependent on the development of a new computerised processing system for the Garda. It is expected that the new system will be available later this year.

Traffic Management.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

101 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his proposals to address the issue of ever growing traffic bottlenecks throughout the greater Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21197/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his proposals to encourage the use of public transport in view of the seriously overcrowded roads in towns, cities and villages, as well as in the capital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21525/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

216 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the way in which he proposes to enhance public transport with a view to alleviating traffic chaos; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21526/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101, 215 and 216 together.

The ten-year transport investment framework, which is currently being developed, will focus on the enhancement and integration of the public transport network throughout the country, and particularly in the greater Dublin area. By so doing, it will provide a real and attractive alternative to the private car, help remove traffic bottlenecks and improve public transport generally. The framework will also address the management of the demand for transport. At present, major increases in the capacity of the public transport system are being delivered in the greater Dublin area. Capacity on the DART has almost doubled since 2000; 80 new diesel railcars were introduced earlier this year on suburban commuter services and a further 36 are to be delivered next year; the capacity of Dublin Bus has been increased with over 25% more capacity at peak times; Bus Éireann has increased its services by approximately 40% from commuter towns such as Drogheda, Navan and Naas to Dublin city centre; the Department of Transport is funding a major programme to expand the quality bus corridor network and improve traffic management in the greater Dublin area; the Luas is now in successful operation on the Sandyford Green line and on the Tallaght Red line; work is continuing on the DART upgrade project, phase two of which will deliver a further increase in capacity; and the completion of the M50, the port tunnel and the M50 upgrade will provide substantial additions to the city's strategic road network.

In addition to increases in the supply of infrastructure and services, the Dublin Transportation Office is also working closely with the planning authorities to influence land use policies in the greater Dublin area to favour more sustainable forms of transport at the planning stage. This is being achieved through integrated land use and transportation plans at local level and commenting on major planning applications and appeals which are of strategic transport importance. All this is being done within the spatial planning context provided by the national spatial strategy and the regional planning guidelines.

Question No. 102 answered with QuestionNo. 32.

Public Transport.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

103 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the progress which the RPA has made on integrated ticketing; the reason its introduction is taking so long; and when the full system will be in place. [21251/05]

The roll out of integrated ticketing using smartcard technology, for which the Railway Procurement Agency, RPA, was given statutory responsibility in March 2002, will be introduced on a phased basis, in line with international experience.

The proposed system, which will enable a passenger to use a ticket on one or more scheduled public transport services, by road and rail, irrespective of the transport operator involved, will be introduced in the Dublin area initially. The projected timescale of four years, from 2002 to 2006, compares favourably with similar systems developed elsewhere, for example in London and Hong Kong.

The first stage of the phased rollout took place in April 2004 when a private operator, Morton's Coaches, in conjunction with the RPA and as a proof of concept, successfully launched smartcards on its services. Last March, another step was taken with the launch of smartcards on Luas services. The Luas smartcard deployment will provide important feedback from passengers and operational experience for the next stage of integrated ticketing.

The RPA currently projects that smartcards will be introduced on Dublin Bus services next year, with the DART projected to follow thereafter. In 2006, passengers should be able to travel on both bus and Luas services in Dublin using one integrated smartcard.

EU Directives.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

104 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Transport the progress he has made in transposing EU Directive 2002/15/EC and EU Directive 2002/85/EC into Irish law. [21207/05]

Transposition of Directive 2002/15/EC was delayed due to discussions with the industry and the EU Commission regarding problems of application to mobile workers in the concrete sector, road construction sector and in relation to certain coach operations. In addition, legal advice was sought as to whether transposition would require primary legislation. My Department has now received a decision from the Office of the Attorney General and arrangements will be made to transpose the directive as quickly as possible.

My Department is currently engaged in putting in place the necessary organisational and administrative arrangements for the effective implementation of Directive 2002/85/EC. The arrangements include the designation of an approval authority for the appointment and supervision of persons authorised to install and seal speed limiters in motor vehicles. It is my intention to make the necessary regulations to transpose the directive into Irish law as soon as these arrangements are finalised.

Question No. 105 answered with QuestionNo. 43.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

106 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Transport when European Council Regulation (EC) 261/2004 will come into practical effect; the reason no Irish body was appointed by the February 2005 deadline; the position for persons who would have been entitled to redress under the terms of the directive had Ireland complied by that deadline; the date the Commission for Aviation Regulation assumed its position as the complaints body; the reason, as of 15 June 2005, there is no information on contact details for complaints procedures on the Commission for Aviation Regulation website; if there is a specific telephone number passengers should contact; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21235/05]

European Council Regulation No. 261/2004, establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and cancellation or long delay of flights, came into effect on 17 February 2005. The regulation confers rights on passengers without the need for the intervention of the enforcement body.

Deliberations and consultation by my Department regarding the designation of an enforcement body took longer than expected. However, the Commission for Aviation Regulation, CAR, was appointed as the enforcement body on 31 May 2005. Any passengers who have sought compensation from airlines since the regulation came into force, but have not received satisfaction can forward their details in writing to the CAR.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation has now published a statement on its website relating to the complaints procedure under the regulation which can be accessed at www.aviationreg.ie. The contact details for the commission are: Commission for Aviation Regulation, Alexandra House, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2; telephone — 01-6611700; fax — 01-6611269; and email —info@aviationreg.ie.

Question No. 107 answered with QuestionNo. 36.

Aviation Tax.

Simon Coveney

Question:

108 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Transport his views on the EU initiative of introducing an aviation tax on all EU flights to fund development in third world countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21192/05]

Discussions have been taking place at recent ECOFIN councils about methods to increase the European Community's overseas development aid contribution. A number of member states have suggested that additional funds could be derived from a tax or levy on airline tickets or aviation fuel. The Minister for Finance has informed me that there was no overall consensus on an aviation tax of any sort and opinions differed on the wisdom of such an approach. The European Commission has been asked to examine the matter further.

The air transport industry is particularly important for Ireland, given our island location on the periphery of Europe and our reliance on the air transport industry to maintain our strong economic links to the United States. It is not clear to me why, in view of the generally weak financial position of airlines, the aviation sector is being singled out to be the vehicle for collecting funds for development aid. Any proposal to introduce an extra charge on air travel journeys would have to be assessed carefully with these important factors in mind and having regard to the global nature of the aviation industry.

Question No. 109 answered with QuestionNo. 39.

Public Transport.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

110 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Transport his plans regarding the expansion of the bus market in the greater Dublin area; when this will occur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21219/05]

My Department is currently awaiting the outcome of a review being carried out by Dublin Bus on how best to maximise the utilisation of its existing resources, in light of the significant investment made in bus and rail services and ongoing demographic changes. This review will be completed by the end of the year.

In addition, discussions are taking place with the key stakeholders on the modernisation of the public transport regulatory framework. I intend to provide a modern and robust basis for the expansion of the bus market. Both public and private companies will have a role to play in meeting the expanding demand for bus services. I remain hopeful that these discussions will reach an effective conclusion in the near future.

Light Rail Project.

Bernard Allen

Question:

111 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Transport if the Railway Procurement Agency has carried out a review of the Luas projects with a view to analysing all aspects of the two lines completed in 2004; if not, when this promised review will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21179/05]

The Railway Procurement Agency, RPA, and the Dublin Transportation Office are carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the effect of Luas on travel patterns. The Before Luas survey was carried out in the spring of 2004 and it is intended that an After Luas survey will be carried out in 2006 when travel patterns on Luas have become more established.

Road Traffic Offences.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

112 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport the length of time the issue of mutual recognition of penalty points system in Ireland and the UK has been under consideration by the British Irish Council; if a resolution is expected soon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21234/05]

Where a driver with a foreign licence is detected committing a penalty-point offence in the Republic of Ireland at present, it is not possible to record his or her penalty points as no entry exists in the national driver file relating to that driver. The Road Traffic Act 2002 provides that where such drivers pay a fixed charge a record is opened in the national driver file recording details of the offence and the number of penalty points applicable are held in abeyance. Should the driver apply for an Irish driving licence at a later date the points then become live and will be endorsed on the licence record for a three year period.

The North-South work programme, which was agreed by the North-South Ministerial Council, included a commitment to examine the mutual recognition of penalty points between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, in addition to the fact that separate penalty point systems operate in the two jurisdictions on this island, the system that operates in Northern Ireland differs from that applying in Great Britain. There is no mutual recognition between those two systems. Accordingly, where a person who holds a Northern Ireland licence commits a penalty-point offence in Great Britain, the points cannot be recorded on that licence. For that reason, it was agreed in 2003 that it would be more appropriate to pursue the question of mutual recognition of penalty points on the basis of the operation of the three systems and that it would also be more appropriate to deal with the issue under the auspices of the British Irish Council. As Northern Ireland has the lead role for transport matters in the council, the authorities in that jurisdiction are taking the lead in considering this issue.

The development of a system of mutual recognition of penalty points presents complex legal questions and may require the negotiation of a bilateral agreement between the two Governments and possibly the passage of primary legislation to support such an agreement. For that reason, my Department has sought the advice of the Attorney General's Office in relation to this issue.

Question No. 113 answered with QuestionNo. 69.

Traffic Management.

Joan Burton

Question:

114 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide details of the reported value for money audit of cycle lanes in Dublin; the person who is carrying out the audit; the level of funding awarded to provide bus lanes in each of the past five years; the number of kilometres this has provided in each case and the locations ; his plans for future funding of cycle lanes in Dublin and the rest of the country. [21206/05]

My Department proposes to undertake an expenditure review of the traffic management grants scheme, commencing in late 2005. This is part of the ongoing expenditure review initiative, including the Exchequer assistance for cycle facilities, in which all Departments participate. The purpose of these reviews is to evaluate the effectiveness of the relevant public expenditure. No decision has yet been made on who will carry out the audit, but it is likely to be undertaken by independent consultants.

Some €28.9 million has been spent on the provision of cycling facilities since 1994, resulting in the provision of 220 km of cycle networks in the greater Dublin area.

The emerging implications for cycling policy are that a more holistic approach, which involves addressing the real and perceived safety concerns of potential cyclists is called for in order to create an attractive environment for cycling. In light of this, I have asked the Dublin Transportation Office to advise on the future direction of cycling policy and this will of necessity involve consideration of the expenditure undertaken to date.

The information sought by the Deputy in relation to the funding of bus lanes in each of the past five years is as follows: 2000, €17.8 million; 2001, €23.4 million; 2002, €15.1 million; 2003, €18.6 million; and 2004, €28.1 million. These figures yield a total of €103 million. Information relating to the location and length of bus lanes is set out in the following table:

QBC Scheme

Launch date

Length in km

Lucan QBC, N4

July 1996

12.1

Malahide QBC

December 1998

7.5

Stillorgan QBC, N11

August 1999

12.9

Finglas QBC

July 2000

6.0

North Clondalkin QBC

February 2001

12.1

Rathfarnham QBC

March 2001

7.1

Tallaght QBC

April 2001

12.2

Blanchardstown

September 2001

16.4

Swords, Whitehall to Dublin Airport

November 2001

2.9

Swords QBC, Whitehall to city centre

April 2001

11.7

Extensions

N11 QBC Ext., Foxrock to Bray

quarter four, 2004

10.7

N4 QBC Ext., St. Johns Road

quarter one, 2004

2.5

N4 QBC Ext., Lucan Bypass

2004

2.2

Rathfarnham QBC Ext., Ballyboden Road

quarter three, 2004

1.0

Newtownpark Avenue, N11 QBC approach

quarter one, 2005

0.4

Total

117.7

The following table lists additional bus priority measures, which are in addition to the QBCs listed in the first table. These bus priority measures may not meet the full QBC specification, but they do prioritise buses through traffic.

Length

N7, Monastery Road to Newlands Cross

1.5 km

Newtown Park Avenue

0.5 km

Outer ring road

3.3 km

N32

2.5 km

Clontarf Road

1.5 km

Laurel Lodge

0.5 km

Total

9.8 km

Public Transport.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

115 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the details of the development of Kent Station in Cork and the development of a new Bus Éireann station at Horgan’s Quay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21203/05]

CIÉ intends to redevelop its properties at Kent Station and Horgan's Quay as one development which will offer an integrated public transport link for bus and rail transport users. The station will have a new entrance facing the new development on Horgan's Quay and the city centre. This will offer improved facilities to all passengers. It will comprise a mixed-use development of approximately 15 acres, both residential and commercial, and represents a significant step in the ongoing regeneration of the Cork city centre.

Appointments to State Boards.

Billy Timmins

Question:

116 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Transport the identity of the members of the National Roads Authority; when they took up their positions; who appointed them; what is the function of the board; the number of times they meet; the selection criteria used in the allocation of funding; the input he has into their policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21199/05]

Appointments to the board of the National Roads Authority, NRA, are made in accordance with section 28 of the Roads Act 1993. The NRA board may comprise up to 14 members. A list of the current members and their respective appointment dates is set out below.

Appointments to the board were made as follows: during 2002 by the former Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Noel Dempsey; during 2003 and 2004 by the former Minister for Transport, Deputy Brennan; and during 2005 by me, as Minister for Transport.

The board is directly responsible for the exercise of the NRA's functions as outlined in the Roads Act 1993. The frequency of board meetings is a matter for the board.

The Minister for Transport is responsible for securing Exchequer funding for the national roads programme. The policy framework for this programme is set out in the national development plan and related policy statements. The allocation of funding to particular projects within the programme is a matter for the NRA.

Board Members

Appointment Date

Expiry Date

Mr. Peter Malone, Chairman

12.02.2002

12.02.2007

Ms Jenny Kent

12.02.2002

12.02.2007

Mr. Raymond Potterton

12.02.2002

12.02.2007

Ms Frances Boyle

28.03.2002

28.03.2007

Prof. Frank Convery

28.03.2002

28.03.2007

Ms Eimear McCauliffe

28.03.2002

28.03.2007

Connie Ní Fhatharta

20.03.2003 (re-appointed)

20.03.2006

Brendan O’Mara

03.04.2003

03.04.2006

Mr. David Holden

01.10.2004

30.09.2009

Mr. John Newell

01.10.2004

30.09.2009

Dr. Donncha Ó Cinnéide

14.04.2005

14.04.2008

Mr. Eddie Breen

21.04.2005

21.04.2008

Question No. 117 answered with QuestionNo. 82.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

118 Mr. Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the number of reports which have been published in his Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21619/05]

The information sought by the Deputy relating to reports published in my Department since June 1997 is detailed in the following schedule.

Name of report

Cost of report

Date of publication

Length of time to prepare report

IMS “Survey of Civil Service Customers”

Fixed price contract for consultancy and publication costs €11,369 (IR£8,954)

July 1997

Three months

Implementing the Information Society in Ireland: An Action Plan

€3,823 (IR£3,011)

January 1999

Approximately seven months

Reducing Red Tape: An Action Programme on Regulatory Reform

€3,369.88

July 1999

Preparation of SMI Working Group Report — four months Preparation of Action Programme — two years

Strategy for the Development of the International Financial Services in Ireland

€11,880

March 1999

It is not possible to estimate the exact time it took to prepare

Hay Management Consultants Report on Design & Development of effective systems of feedback within PMDS’

Fixed price contract for Consultancy and Publication costs €45,800 (£36,050)

October 2000

Five months

‘Evaluation of Partnership’ Report

Production Costs €14,000 (£11,111)

March 2000

One month

e-Business in International Financial Services: Developing Ireland’s Potential Proposals for Action

Prepared internally at marginal cost

Published on Department of Taoiseach website January 2001

It is not possible to estimate the exact time it took to prepare

Equality/Diversity and Quality Customer Service’

€38,700 (£30,492) Production costs €1,760 Total: €40,460

December 2001

Ten months

Consultation Document: Towards Better Regulation: Initiating a public consultation process leading to a national policy statement on better regulatory management: Consultation Document: Executive Summary: Towards Better Regulation: Initiating a public consultation process leading to a national policy statement on better regulation and regulatory management

Designing/Printing €18,081.46 Consultancy fees €6,692.00 Total: €24,773.46

February 2002

Seven months

‘Evaluation of Customer Action Plans’

€25,400 Production Costs €3,055 Total: €28,455

April 2002

Four months

*eCabinet Feasibility study

€152,094

January 2002

Approximately ten months

New Connections: A strategy to realise the potential of the Information Society

€14,775

March 2002

Approximately seven months

Evaluation of the Strategic Management Initiative

(Consultancy only) €491,991.83 no printing fees incurred, Report published by the Department of Finance

March 2002

Approximately nine months

Ireland and the European Union: Identifying Priorities and Pursuing Goals

€9,674.26

April 2002

This Report involved contributions from a broad range of Government Departments. It is not possible to estimate the exact time it took to prepare

Reports on submissions received arising from public consultation on Towards Better Regulation

Designing/Printing €7,790 Consultancy fees €4,000 Total: €11,790.00

December 2002

Six months

High Level Review Group on the Freedom of Information Act 1997 — Report to the Government.

Negligible

February 2003

Approximately Six months

Lansdowne Market Research Report ‘Irish Civil Service — Customer Satisfaction Survey’

Price included Consultancy, Survey and supply of Report €36,000

January 2003

Four months

NGM Report ‘Communicating Change & Modernisation in the Civil Service’

Price included Consultancy, Survey and supply of Report €15,000

January 2003

Four months

‘Customer Charters — Guidelines for preparation’

Production Costs €34,000

September 2003

Nine months

Ireland and the European Union: Identifying Priorities and Pursuing Goals — Second Edition 2003

€12,207.47

April 2003

This Report involved contributions from a broad range of Government Departments. It is not possible to estimate the exact time it took to prepare

Regulating Better: A Government White Paper setting out six principles of Better Regulation: Regulating Better: Executive Summary: A Government White Paper setting out six principles of Better Regulation

Designing/Printing €25,763.57 Consultancy fees €4,840 Total: €30,603.57

January 2004

12 months

‘Our Commitments to our Colleagues — Internal Customer Service in the Civil Service’

Production Costs €11,000

January 2004

Four months

‘Redress for Civil Service Customers — International Approaches’

€76,894 Production Costs €5,049 Total: €81,943

November 2004

11 months

An Inquiry into certain matters in relation to procurement as requested by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D.

Negligible

January 2005

Approximately one month

*The €152,094 paid to PwC for a feasibility study on eCabinet covered the cost of extensive key stakeholder liaison, international research and research into the business processes involved. This culminated in PwC producing a comprehensive two-volume report on eCabinet.

The cross departmental team to the Cabinet committee on housing, infrastructure and public private partnerships has, since its establishment in 1999, prepared an annual progress report. These reports are prepared internally at marginal cost and take approximately one month to prepare. They are laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and the latest four are available on the Department of the Taoiseach's website.

In addition, my Department has published annual reports for each year since 1998. The 2004 report is currently being finalised. The cost of the most recent annual report for 2003 was €26,352. The Department has published strategy statements since 1998 and the cost of the most recent statement, for 2003 to 2005 was €13,405.

Additionally, the Deputy will be aware that for every full year that Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats have been in Government, we have published an annual progress report. The second annual progress report of this current administration was published on 1 August 2004. The total cost of printing and publication was €1,933. Work is currently under way on the third annual progress report.

Medical Cards.

John Perry

Question:

119 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the criteria for the doctor-only medical cards; when this scheme will be put in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21338/05]

In 2005 funding has been provided to allow the Health Service Executive, HSE, to provide an additional 30,000 people with full medical cards and also to extend free access to general practitioner services under the General Medical Services, GMS, scheme to up to a further 200,000 persons. These patients' income can be up to 25% in excess of the income guidelines used for the assessment of full eligibility. The reason for this initiative is to ensure that as many people as possible, particularly those with low incomes and children, will be free from the worry of costs associated with accessing general practitioner services for themselves and their families.

The HSE has put in place the necessary administrative arrangements for the introduction of the so-called GP-visit cards and will undertake a public information campaign to indicate the process to be followed by applicants to obtain application forms and to have their eligibility assessed by the HSE. It is foreseen that the general practitioners services which will be available to GP-visit card holders will be the same as those available to patients with full eligibility under the GMS scheme. The Labour Relations Commission has issued a comprehensive recommendation for settling a range of issues between the Department of Health and Children, the HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation, IMO, including issues surrounding the introduction of the GP-visit card. The recommendation is welcomed and it is hoped that it will be accepted by the IMO so that the GP-visit card initiative can be implemented without further delay.

Health Services.

Bernard Allen

Question:

120 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has had home help hours cut. [21347/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, the Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Liz McManus

Question:

121 Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons availing of the home care grant by each former health board area; and the number waiting for the home care grant by each former health board area. [21358/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, the Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

Liz McManus

Question:

122 Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she has received correspondence from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 which outlines the lack of comfort, care and hygiene in the Whitworth ward, Beaumont Hospital; her views on the issues raised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21359/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Regarding the correspondence referred to by the Deputy, a reply issued from my Department on 14 June 2005.

Rights of the Child.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

123 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Question No. 277 of 14 June 2005, if a person (details supplied) has been the subject of administrative proceedings over the past year or more which come under the ambit of Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; her views on whether there are prima facie conflicts of interest on the part of Irish State parties who have been involved in the case to date, as against the interests of the child; if this person is entitled under the aforementioned conventions to be independently represented; if such entitlement exists in respect of the current administrative proceedings and, therefore, is not contingent on any judicial proceedings being brought in the future, such as proceedings related to the person’s adoption or citizenship; if the Attorney General will apply to the High Court for an order appointing an independent representative for this person; and if a comprehensive reply will be provided to this question. [21375/05]

This is a most complex and highly sensitive case. The Government is actively engaged in seeking to find a solution. At all times the best interests of the child have been and will remain the primary consideration.

High Court proceedings against the adoptive parents of this child have been instigated by the Attorney General in his role as protector of the unprotected. As the matter is before the court it is not appropriate to comment further.

Hospital Services.

Willie Penrose

Question:

124 Mr. Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be immediately admitted to St. James’s Hospital for urgent treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21376/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Procedures.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

125 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children to explain the charge for medical card holders for a SIDCA bone scan at a public hospital; the reason a medical card holder is required to pay a charge for a necessary medical service such as this; if medical card holders will not be required to pay this and similar charges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21377/05]

Medical card holders are entitled to a full range of services, including general practitioner services, prescribed drugs and medicines, all inpatient services in public wards including consultant services, dental, ophthalmic and aural and appliances and a maternity and infant care service.

The Health (Amendment) Act 1991 gave statutory effect to the measures which determined that everyone in this country, regardless of income, is entitled to public hospital and consultation services subject only to modest statutory charges from which medical card holders are exempt. The Act also removed the entitlement to combine public and private elements of inpatient care at the same time. Any person can opt to be the private patient of both the consultant and the hospital. In these circumstances the patient, whether a medical card holder or not, is liable for the costs relating to such treatment. An inpatient of a public hospital who holds a medical card should not be charged for a bone scan unless the person has explicitly opted to be treated as a private patient or is due compensation as a result of a road traffic accident under the Health (Amendment) Act 1986 Act.

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

126 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the proportion of inpatient discharges and activity which is made up by private patients in each of the Dublin hospitals in the years 1999 to 2004. [21393/05]

I will provide the information requested separately to the Deputy.

Liam Twomey

Question:

127 Dr. Twomey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that all appropriate inquiries and measures have been taken in regard to allegations and information supplied by a person (details supplied) regarding the hospital, the HSE and the Department of Health and Children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21399/05]

The person referred to by the Deputy made a formal complaint in November 2004 under the Department of Health and Children's customer service complaints procedure. His complaint was investigated and he has appealed the outcome of that investigation. His appeal is currently being considered in line with the Department's formal appeals procedure.

With regard to the person's concern relating to the hospital, the Department considers the matter closed and the person was so informed in July 2003.

Environmental Policy.

John Gormley

Question:

128 Mr. Gormley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a large number of plastic bottles for distilled water are used by the dentistry section of the HSE; her views on whether it would make more sense to have distilled water on site or have distilled water in glass bottles; if there are plans to recycle the plastic bottles that now exist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21408/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

John Gormley

Question:

129 Mr. Gormley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the steps a person can take if he or she is not happy with the home help provided by the HSE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21414/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

John Cregan

Question:

130 Mr. Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the situation with regard to entitlement to a medical card for persons from the United Kingdom who move here for work or other purposes; and the restrictions on same. [21439/05]

EU entitlement to health services in Ireland is dependent on the production by the individual of the appropriate liaison form, duly completed by the competent authority in the home state. However, Ireland and the United Kingdom have agreed to waive the requirement to produce liaison forms for citizens who, while on temporary stays in either country, need only to show proof of residence.

EU Regulations (1408/71) deal with the co-ordination of social security schemes, including health care, for those moving within the European Union. Arrangements under these regulations supersede the provisions of the Irish eligibility system in respect of certain categories of nationals of other EU countries. These arrangements are as follows: social security pensioners of other EU countries who are not covered by an Irish social welfare pension, as recipient or as dependent, and who are not employed or self-employed here, receive a medical card; and persons resident here who are insured workers in the territory of another EU country receive a medical card.

Applications for health benefits can be made through the Health Service Executive, HSE, area where an individual intends to live or stay.

Eligibility for health services in Ireland under national legislation is primarily based on residency and means. The determination of eligibility for a medical card is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. Other than for persons aged 70 years and over, who are automatically entitled to a medical card, medical cards are issued to persons who, in the opinion of the HSE, are unable to provide general practitioner medical and social services for themselves and their dependants without undue hardship.

Drugs Payment Scheme.

John Cregan

Question:

131 Mr. Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the situation for a person on high levels of medication and availing of the €85 per month maximum on prescriptions and who is prescribed new drugs which must be bought separately due to the fact that they are not on the approved list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21445/05]

The common list of reimbursable medicines for the general medical services and drugs payment schemes is reviewed and amended monthly, as new products become available and deletions are notified. In order to be included on the list an item must comply with published criteria, including authorisation status as appropriate, price and, in certain cases, the intended use of the product. In addition, the product should ordinarily be supplied to the public only by medical prescription and should not be advertised or promoted to the public. It is a matter for the manufacturer or supplier to apply to my department for inclusion of a product on the list of reimbursable items. It is understood that no such application has been made in this case.

A person who experiences financial difficulty in obtaining products not on the list of reimbursable items should contact the Health Service Executive.

Health Service Staff.

Michael Ring

Question:

132 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her Department has plans to appoint a pain specialist in County Mayo (details supplied). [21494/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

133 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of children awaiting orthodontic treatment in County Kildare; the average waiting time; the number of dentists on hire at present to clear the waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21495/05]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

134 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of children awaiting orthodontic treatment in County Kildare; the average waiting time; the number of dentists on hire at present to clear the waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21495/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 134 together.

The Deputy's questions relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Inspections.

Martin Ferris

Question:

135 Mr. Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on whether, in view of the recent case in a nursing home (details supplied) in County Kerry, there is an adequate number of inspectors available in the north Kerry region for the monitoring of care within its nursing homes. [21496/05]

In the HSE southern area, which covers counties Cork and Kerry, there are five nursing homes inspection teams, each comprising a senior medical officer, chairperson, a director or assistant director of public health nursing and a principal or senior environmental health officer. One of these teams is based in County Kerry, where there are 18 registered private nursing homes.

As the issues raised by the Deputy are operational in nature, the HSE southern area which is responsible for the delivery of health services in the Kerry area, has informed the Department that it is satisfied that it has sufficient resources to enable it to meet its inspection requirements under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990 and the Nursing Homes Regulations 1993.

The HSE has also initiated a review of the current approach to nursing home inspections. This review will examine issues such as preparation work undertaken, assessment tools used, methodologies employed during inspections, guidelines dealing with announced and unannounced visits and procedures to assess the quality of care. The reviewer has been asked to provide a report to the HSE outlining his findings, including any actions which should be taken to improve the quality of the inspection process and to identify any other issues that need to be addressed for the future.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Pat Breen

Question:

136 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive a special bed from the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21497/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility if the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Medicinal Products.

Tony Gregory

Question:

137 Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if drugs (details supplied) have come to the attention of the relevant authorities; if they are listed as illegal drugs. [21503/05]

Ketamine is a legal drug subject to control under the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 1996. It is used for the induction and maintenance of anaesthesia. It is also used in veterinary medicine. However, because of its potential for abuse, it is intended to apply controls under the Misuse of Drugs Acts to it. Regulations giving effect to this change are currently being drafted.

Crystal Meth is a form of Methamphetamine. It is controlled under Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984 and as such is subject to stringent controls.

The other matter raised by the Deputy is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and I understand that the Deputy has also put this question to him.

Nursing Homes Standards.

Richard Bruton

Question:

138 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she sought or received a report on the action by the Health Service Executive in relation to the Rostrevor nursing home; and if on the basis of that report the HSE has acted to fully vindicate the policies which she espouses. [21551/05]

The Department received a report from the former South Western Area Health Board on the Rostrevor nursing home in September 2004. As the Deputy is aware, there are ongoing proceedings taken by the HSE against this nursing home. The former South Western Area Health Board initiated proceedings in the District Court against the home in March 2004 and then decided to initiate proceedings in the High Court in August 2004 to close the home because of delays in resolving the matter in the District Court. The High Court decided that jurisdiction in this case rested with the District Court and it refused the health board's application. In the circumstances it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage, pending the outcome of these proceedings. The case is due to be heard in the autumn in the District Court.

The HSE has also initiated a review of the current approach to nursing home inspections. This review will examine issues such as preparation work undertaken, assessment tools used, methodologies employed during inspections, guidelines dealing with announced and unannounced visits and procedures to assess the quality of care. The reviewer has been asked to provide a report to the HSE outlining his findings, including any actions which should be taken to improve the quality of the inspection process and to identify any other issues that need to be addressed for the future.

As already announced, the Social Services Inspectorate is to be established on a statutory basis. Legislation to give effect to this will be published later this year. The inspectorate will be charged with the inspection of both public and private nursing homes and will be responsible for reporting on standards of care in such homes.

In addition, the Department of Health and Children is urgently reviewing the operation of the Health ( Nursing Homes) Act 1990 and regulations made under the Act to determine which powers available to the Health Service Executive need to be strengthened. This will be a wide-ranging review which will have the rights of patients at its centre. It is intended to publish this Bill later this year.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Richard Bruton

Question:

139 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the digital hearings aids for which a tender was completed some time ago, are now being supplied to the agencies who will distribute them to priority cases; and if young persons who need this facility will have them well before the start of the next school year. [21552/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

National Children’s Advisory Council.

David Stanton

Question:

140 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the membership of the National Children’s Advisory Council, NCAC, for the period from 2004 to 2007; when the first NCAC membership was dissolved; when the NCAC was reconstituted; the functions and remit of the NCAC; the directions her Department provides to the NCAC with regard to standards and the performance of its functions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21553/05]

The membership of the National Children's Advisory Council for the period 2005-08 is as follows:

Chairperson

Mr. Peter O'Brien

Vice Chairperson

Mr. Paul Gilligan — ISPCC

Youth Representatives

Mr. Dennis Drought

Ms Méabh Healy

Mr. Anthony Keigher

Ms Sheila O'Donnell

Statutory Sector

Mr. PJ Breen — Department of Education and Science

Mr. Ger Crowley — Health Service Executive

Ms Dora Hennessy — Department of Health and Children

Ms Anne-Marie Hughes — Irish Sports Council

Ms Marie Kennedy — National Children's Office

Mr. Heber McMahon — Department of Social and Family Affairs

Ms Mary Meaney — National Disability Authority

Mr. Finbar Murphy — An Garda Síochána

Ms Jean O'Dwyer — The Arts Council

Mr. Eamon Waters — Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Mr. John O'Callaghan — Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Voluntary Sector

Ms Maria Corbett — Children's Rights Alliance

Ms Norah Gibbons — Barnardos

Ms Geraldine Graydon — National Parents Council — Primary

Mr. Jim Jackman/Mr. Gerry O'Reilly — National Parents Council — Post Primary

Mr. Declan Jones — Focus Ireland

Mr. Dermot Kearney — National Youth Council of Ireland

Ms Collette Murray — Pavee Point

Sr. Catherine Prendergast — Council of Religious of Ireland

Ms Máire Uí Aininn — National Childcare Coordinating Committee

Ms Jennifer Wallace — National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism

Research

Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn — National Children's Research Advisory Board

Independent Nominees

Mr. David Hopkins

Mr. George Maybury

Dr. Dermot Stokes.

The first National Children's Advisory Council served from May 2001 to May 2004. The first meeting of the reconstituted council took place on 20 April 2005.

The council has an independent advisory and monitoring role in relation to the implementation of the national children's strategy and reports to the Minister for Health and Children in that regard. Its functions are: to advise the Minister on all aspects of children's lives, including the development of child well-being indicators; to advise the Minister on the better co-ordination and delivery of services to children; to contribute to monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the strategy; to undertake and advise on research and to advise on training in relation to the strategy; and to advise on the development of mechanisms to consult with children.

Letters requesting nominees to the reconstituted council set out the following guidelines: tenure will be on a three-year basis, with meetings of the council anticipated to be held no more than quarterly; consistent attendance is essential to the efficient operation of the council; members will not be remunerated but will be refunded expenses in accordance with Civil Service guidelines; and the council is supported in its work by the National Children's Office which provides the secretariat and the budget to support its activities.

The National Children's Advisory Council provides independent advice to the Minister for Health and Children. Through its diverse membership, the council is uniquely placed to provide advice which reflects a combination of expertise and practical experience. The council also plays an important role in monitoring the implementation of the national children's strategy. One of the key features of the council when it was first established was that, for the first time, an advisory council to the Minister included youth members who would work alongside nominees from the statutory and voluntary sector. The current council includes four youth members who have been elected by the recently established children and young people's forum of the National Children's Office.

The first council published a very detailed report on its work over its term of office. This sets out the areas in which the council has formally submitted advice to the Minister for Health and Children. It also deals with internal mechanisms to facilitate the effective working of the council, including good practice guidelines to ensure the effective involvement of young people in its work. This report, along with other documents issued by the Council, can be downloaded from www.ncac.ie.

Health Services.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

141 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the health services executive will be directed to review the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6W; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21559/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Damien English

Question:

142 Mr. English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who are on waiting lists to see consultants at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan; the length of time each of the patients has been on the waiting list; the estimated time each will be on the list before seeing a consultant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21606/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Schemes.

Billy Timmins

Question:

143 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the HSE south eastern area, will establish a first responders scheme similar to that which existed in the former Eastern Regional Health Authority at Ashamore, County Wexford (details supplied). [21608/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Billy Timmins

Question:

144 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the HSE will establish a mechanism whereby communities can set up first responders schemes similar to that currently in operation in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21609/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

145 Mr. Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of reports that have been published in her Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21620/05]

The information requested is being collated in my Department and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Tax Code.

John Cregan

Question:

146 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Finance if a person in employment with a contribution record aged over 66, but whose employer understands him to be younger, claims the old age pension, if he can pay tax separately on it without it being shown on his tax documents, P60, tax allowance form and so on; and if such a person did not claim it until he was 70, if the arrears he could claim at that stage could be clarified. [21431/05]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, while PAYE is not deducted at source from pensions paid by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the tax due on taxable pensions, such as the old age pension, is collected via the PAYE system by way of adjustment of that individual's certificate of tax credits and standard rate cut-off point, that is, the individual's tax credits and standard tax rate cut-off point are reduced to take into account the amount of his or her taxable pensions and-or benefits received.

However, as an alternative to above, the Revenue Commissioners can, if requested, collect the income tax liability on the old age pension directly by way of an annual assessment on the individual through the self-assessment tax system. While the payment of tax under self-assessment is generally by way of an annual lump sum called preliminary tax, the Revenue Commissioners have a scheme whereby preliminary tax due under self-assessment can be paid by way of a direct debit instalment arrangement. The explanatory leaflet CG9, which is available on www.revenue.ie provides more details.

However, under the self-assessment tax system, if the annual tax return is not submitted on time, a late filing surcharge will apply on that income which was not subject to tax deduction under PAYE, whether directly or indirectly.

While the question of time limits and restrictions on claiming arrears of old age pension entitlements is a matter for the Department of Social and Family Affairs, where an individual allows his or her entitlement to an old age pension build up and claims the arrears by way of a lump sum in later years, such arrears of old age pension are taxable in the relevant tax year to which the pension relates rather than the year in which the arrears are paid.

Tom Hayes

Question:

147 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if it is lawful to subject the subsistence and mileage allowances of a member of a board of governors of an institute of technology to income tax and PRSI deductions for attendance at board of governors’ meetings. [21365/05]

The Revenue Commissioners require further information to determine the precise tax treatment of the reimbursement of expenses of travel and subsistence in the specific case giving rise to the Deputy's question. If the Deputy will provide the name and address of the relevant board member and the names of the relevant vocational education committee and institute of technology to my office, such details will be passed on to the Revenue Commissioners who will examine the matter.

On a general note, the Revenue Commissioners inform me that members of the board of governors of an institute of technology are office holders and that the remuneration payable to them in their capacity as office holders is chargeable to tax under what is known as Schedule E and subject to deductions, that is, tax, PRSI and the health contribution as appropriate, at source under the PAYE system.

The payment of expenses to office holders in respect of travel and subsistence is chargeable to tax as an emolument of an office or employment. That said, office holders and employees may claim tax relief on the expenses of travel necessarily incurred in the performance of the duties of their office or employment. This is the reason employers may, within limitations, reimburse without deduction of tax to office holders and employees the expense of travel necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties. For practical purposes, the limitations commonly accepted across all sectors are the Civil Service rates, limits and procedures.

However, I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is a long established and widely understood principle of tax case law that the expense of travelling to and from an individual's normal place of work is not an expense of travelling necessarily incurred in the performance of the duties of that office or employment. Accordingly, the reimbursement to an office holder or employee of such expenses is taxable and subject to deductions at source, that is tax, PRSI and health levies as appropriate, under the PAYE system.

Having regard to the nature of work of State and other such boards and committees, it is likely that, in most cases, the normal place of work of the members of such boards and committees, in their capacity as members, is the place where the relevant meetings are held and accordingly, if expenses are paid to travel to such meetings, they are taxable.

Public Service Contracts.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

148 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Finance if Oireachtas secretarial assistants who accept the current buy out arrangement and any future VER package will retain entitlement to a pension lump sum on reaching pension age in addition to both components of the package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21366/05]

The buy out arrangement recently introduced by the Oireachtas commission for certain secretarial assistants has no implications for entitlement to pension lump sums. However, what happens under future VER arrangements will be determined at the time and in the light of the factors then prevailing.

Pension Provisions.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

149 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway is not entitled to the widow’s and orphan’s pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21378/05]

To be entitled to a widow's pension, the husband of the person concerned would have had to be a member of the widow's and orphans' pension scheme while he was employed in the Office of Public Works. As the records in the Office of Public Works indicate that her husband opted out of the original widows' and orphans' pension scheme 1978, and the revised spouses' and children's pension scheme 1986, she is not entitled to any widow's pension under the scheme in respect of his service in the Office of Public Works.

Tax Code.

Mary Upton

Question:

150 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Finance if he will review the circumstances whereby a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 has two PPS numbers and is in receipt of two P60s. [21379/05]

The Revenue Commissioners advise me that the taxpayer is entitled to two forms P60 as he has two different sources of income from the same company, namely, his pension and a part-time employment. However, he should only have one PPS number. The Department of Social and Family Affairs has informed the Revenue Commissioners that one was purged and amalgamated to the second number prior to 1992. All Department of Social and Family Affairs records are under the correct number. The correct number is now being used by the Revenue Commissioners.

Mary Upton

Question:

151 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 will receive the money owed for a DIRT refund. [21418/05]

The Revenue Commissioners advise that a balancing statement together with a cheque for the amount due will issue to the taxpayer within the next ten days.

John Cregan

Question:

152 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Finance the VAT take on various energy costs in the past five years; and if he will consider reducing VAT rates on all or some energy costs due to the significant effect these costs are having on some categories in society, for example, pensioners who use a greater proportion of their income on heat for health reasons and for being at home more. [21428/05]

The Revenue Commissioners inform me that the amount of VAT collected from the supply of energy related goods and services cannot be identified in the overall yield of VAT as the information furnished on VAT returns does not require this to be identified. However, estimates of the VAT yield on energy sources, derived from CSO statistical data, are as follows:

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Electricity

85

89

98

117

128

Coal

9

21

18

18

20

Turf/Briquettes

9

14

13

12

13

Gas

26

27

34

42

46

C/Heating Oil

32

23

28

31

34

Kerosene

24

34

42

48

53

LPG Domestic

6

8

8

9

10

Firewood/Firelighters

6

3

4

4

5

Total

197

219

245

281

309

The supply of the above named goods is already subject to the reduced VAT rate of 13.5%. On the issue of reducing VAT rates for certain categories of consumer, the position is that the rate of VAT which applies to a particular good or service is determined by the nature of the good or service and not by the status of the consumer. There is no provision in European VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply, which would allow the application of a lower VAT rate for supplies to consumers of a certain age.

However, under the social welfare code, any person resident in the State, who is aged 70 or over, is entitled to the social welfare household benefits package subject to certain conditions and regardless of income or household composition. This package includes allowances for electricity, natural gas or bottled gas.

The electricity allowance covers the normal standing charge and up to 1,800 units of electricity each year. At current prices, the value of the electricity allowance to the consumer can be up to €381 per annum, inclusive of VAT at13.5%. Alternatively, if the natural gas allowance option is selected, the customer is entitled to the supply charge and up to 1,674 kwh of gas per year. The annual value of this is up to €250 per annum, inclusive of VAT at 13.5%. If the person's home is not connected to an electricity or natural gas supply, the person is entitled to 15 cylinders of bottle gas per annum at an annual value of approximately €320, inclusive of VAT at 13.5%.

John Cregan

Question:

153 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Finance when age allowance was last increased from a tax point of view; if he will now consider same as a recognition that these are extra costs associated with living alone. [21429/05]

The age tax credit was last changed in the 2002 budget when, in the context of the changeover to the euro, its value was increased slightly to €205 per annum for a single person aged 65 or over and to €410 per annum for a married couple where one or both spouses is aged 65 or over. It is not intended to function as a tax relief for those living alone.

However, I would point out to the Deputy that the approach adopted in recent years with regard to tax policy and the elderly has been to assist such persons primarily through increases in the age exemption limits under which those aged 65 or over are exempt from income tax up to specified limits. If the income of an elderly person rises slightly above the age exemption limits, he or she can be taxed under the system of marginal relief taxation. Under this system, the exemption limits continue to be applied and the person is taxed at 40% on all income above the exemption limits until his or her level of income is such that it would be more favourable to be taxed under the normal tax system using credits and bands. A person who is taxed under the system of marginal relief pays less tax than he or she would if taxed under the normal tax system.

The age exemption limits have been increased in every budget since 1997. In the last four budgets alone, the limits have increased by almost 53%. Following budget 2005, they stand at €16,500 per annum in the case of a single or widowed person and €33,000 per annum in the case of a married couple where one spouse is or both spouses are aged 65 or over.

The Revenue Commissioners estimate that in the current tax year there are 86,000 elderly individuals and couples who are exempt from taxation. The question of further increases in the value of the age tax credit and the age exemption limits will be a matter to be considered in the context of future budgets.

State Property.

Tony Gregory

Question:

154 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Finance the number of public buildings currently renting roof space to telecommunications companies; the number of additional public buildings from which it is proposed to rent such space for the erection of masts; the income generated in this manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21487/05]

Since October 2004 the Commissioners of Public Works have granted 28 licences, in respect of 19 State-owned buildings, to mobile telephone operators. As the process is ongoing it is not possible to say how many additional licences will be granted in the future. While the exact licence fee depends on the amount of equipment installed, the average licence fee is €12,500 per annum.

Denis Naughten

Question:

155 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works has sought tenders for the DVO for Drumshambo, County Leitrim; when it is envisaged that the project will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21548/05]

The Commissioners of Public Works are currently finalising the purchase of the land in Drumshambo. The purchase will be completed on receipt of a current tax clearance certificate from the vendor.

On receipt of the final brief of requirements, the commissioners will arrange for the advancement of the project to tender stage.

Tax Collection.

Jack Wall

Question:

156 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has not received their income tax rebate in view of the fact that they have submitted the relevant documentation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21554/05]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person concerned has applied for two income tax repayments, both of which have already issued to him, dated 12 May 2005 and 20 June 2005, respectively.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

157 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the number of reports which have been published in his Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21621/05]

The information requested is being compiled by my Department and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Pension Provisions.

John Cregan

Question:

158 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the reason for the delay in giving An Post pensioners their due increases; and when these increases and arrears will be awarded. [21452/05]

An Post is a commercial State body and the question of pension increases in the company is one in which I have no function.

A recently published assessors' report, commissioned by the Labour Court, on foot of negotiations between An Post and its unions, recommended that a 5% pay increase, backdated to 1 January 2005, be implemented by the end of June 2005. I understand that An Post intends to pay the recommended 5% increase to its employees and pensioners by the end of June 2005.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

159 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of reports which have been published in his Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21622/05]

In the time available, it has not been possible to identify and assemble all the information sought by the Deputy. My Department is compiling the relevant material and I will write to the Deputy in this regard as soon as possible.

International Agreements.

Willie Penrose

Question:

160 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the communications, meetings and other representations his Department has had with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in relation to the EU requests for opening of markets under the proposed EPAs; if he will make records of such contacts available to Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21367/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

161 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his Department has aired any concerns with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in relation to the opening up of priority country markets to EU competition; if there has been a suggestion by his Department that areas of these markets be excluded from liberalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21368/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

162 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government has undertaken an assessment of the impact upon industrial and agricultural producers in Ireland’s priority aid countries of the entry into force of EPA — free trade areas which the EU proposes will include full liberalisation of 90% of trade with the poorest countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21369/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

163 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the discussions and proposals the Government is pursuing to ensure that the EU works with the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, either to achieve at the WTO an extension of the Cotonou Waiver or to change Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in order that the EU can continue to give preferential access to poorer countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21370/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

164 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the representations his Department has had at the EU 133 committee meetings considering the liberalisation of trade with Ireland’s priority countries under EPAs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21400/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

165 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the consultations his Department has had with priority country Governments and with business, community and civil society regarding their defensive interests in the EPA trade negotiations; the areas of concern which were highlighted through consultations; the steps which have been taken by his Department to ensure that those interests are recognised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21401/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

166 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his Department has made an assessment of the industries, in each of Ireland’s priority aid countries, which will most come under pressure through the liberalisation envisaged in EPAs; if he will identify those industries; the number of persons they employ; the capacity they have to adjust to competition from European exports inside the transition period; the level of unemployment in Ireland’s priority aid countries he expects will result from such liberalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21402/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

167 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the industries in Mozambique, which can sustain full opening up to competition from South Africa; the way in which this can be envisaged as a poverty reduction strategy consistent with the objectives of the Cotonou Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21403/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 to 167, inclusive, together.

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 363 to 370, inclusive, by Deputy Paul McGrath of Tuesday, 21 June 2005, a copy of which follows. The Economic Partnership Agreements, EPAs, which are to enter into force by 1 January 2008, are an integral element of the legally-binding Cotonou Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific, ACP, states and the European Union.

The EPAs are intended first and foremost as instruments for development to foster the smooth and gradual integration of ACP states into the world economy, with due regard for their own political choices and their own development priorities, thereby promoting their sustainable development and contributing to poverty eradication. They combine trade and wider development issues in a unified framework, while taking account of the specific economic, social and environmental circumstances of each regional group and its component states.

For instance recent discussions between the European Commission and the Southern African Development Community, SADC, which has many of the features of a customs union, focused on how the least developed SADC member countries would be affected by further trade integration under the EPAs. This overall approach addresses the particular concern of Ireland and other member states that development and poverty reduction should be the principal objectives of the EPAs.

As far as the impacts of liberalisation of trade are concerned, I draw the Deputy's attention to article 37(7) of the Cotonou Agreement which states that the negotiations on the EPAs:

shall take account of the level of development and the socio-economic impact of trade measures on ACP countries, and their capacity to adapt and adjust their economies to the liberalisation process. Negotiations will therefore be as flexible as possible in establishing the duration of a sufficient transitional period, the final product coverage, taking into account sensitive sectors, and the degree of asymmetry in terms of timetable for tariff dismantlement, while remaining in conformity with WTO rules then prevailing.

As trade is a European Community competence, it is the European Commission which conducts the negotiations on the EPAs between the EU and the six regional groupings of ACP states. The Commission provides the Council with regular updates on the progress of the negotiations. In this general regard, I welcome Commissioner Mandelson's statement that he is putting the EPA process under continuing review to ensure that at every stage in the negotiations the development dimension is placed first.

Ireland is actively following the developments in the EPA negotiations. At the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on 24 May, for instance, I drew attention to the concerns which have been expressed, including by Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, that the EPAs are not sufficiently development focused. I emphasised that it will be important for the Commission to reassure member states that it is addressing these concerns.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, has primary responsibility for trade policy. An officer of that Department represents Ireland at meetings of the relevant 133 committee. This committee normally meets once a month at the level of full members. An officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs also attends meetings of the committee on a regular basis. Given the importance for Ireland of trade and trade relations with other countries, including those which are programme countries for Ireland's development co-operation programme, my Department works closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and other Departments, including the Department of Agriculture and Food, in preparing for meetings of the 133 committee and on questions relating to trade generally, including the EPA negotiations.

All the programme countries in Ireland's bilateral aid programme — Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Timor Leste — are ACP states. In each of these countries, Ireland works in close co-operation with our partner Government, other donors, the private sector and civil society to ensure coherence in our approach across a range of sectors. Among the issues discussed are the impact of EU policies, including EPAs, and the integration of LDCs into the international trading system. This approach will help build the economic infrastructure in the least developed countries which will help employment generation and, ultimately, long-term sustainable development. I do not, however, have the level of detail being sought by Deputy McGrath in relation to employment in particular industries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In common with most other countries in the southern Africa region, South Africa is Mozambique's main foreign investor and strong trade links have developed between the two countries in recent years. It would not be appropriate for me to express a view on which specific industries in Mozambique, or indeed any other third country, could sustain competition from South Africa.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

168 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of reports which have been published in his Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21623/05]

In the time available, it is not possible to provide a full list of all the reports published by the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to date. Details of the reports on which information is available is set out below. A full list of reports with the details requested will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Reports Published by the Department of Foreign Affairs since 1997.

1. Developments in the EU report series.

The following reports were published between 1997 and 2002 under the terms of the European Communities Act 1972.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

50th Report — January-June 1997

1,641.45

January, 1998

6 months

51st Report — July-December 1997

1,807.00

May, 1998

4 months

52nd Report — January-June 1998

1,630.00

October, 1998

4 months

53rd Report — July-December 1998

1,271.86

July, 1999

6 months

54th Report — January-June 1999

1,649.97

October, 2000

15 months

55th Report — July-December 1999

1,675.77

February, 2002

25 months

56th Report — January-June 2000

1,847.54

February, 2002

19 months

57th Report — July-December 2000

1,847.54

February, 2002

13 months

58th Report — January-June 2001

8,211.00

May, 2002

11 months

59th Report — July-December 2001

7,339.00

May, 2002

4 months

60th Report — January-June 2002

15,662.89

October, 2002

3 months

61st Report — July-December 2002

9,583.00

August, 2003

7 months

2. Oireachtas Scrutiny Series.

Since January 2003, the Department has published two types of reports under the terms of the European Union (Scrutiny) Act 2002: an Annual Report on Developments in the European Union and a six-monthly report on Developments at European Union Level.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Annual Report on Developments in the European Union in 2003

No Costs — Printed in-house

March, 2004

2 months

Annual Report on Developments in the European Union in 2004

Awaiting invoice

June, 2005

5 months

Report on Developments in the European Union: January-June 2003

No Costs — Printed in-house

September, 2003

2 months

Report on Developments in the European Union: July-December 2003

No Costs — Printed in-house

April, 2004

4 months

Report on Developments in the European Union: January-June 2004

No Costs — Printed in-house

August, 2004

3 months

Report on Developments in the European Union: July-December 2004

No Costs — Printed in-house

March, 2005

2 months

3. Report on Ireland's Presidency of the European Union, January-June 2004.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Report on Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union, January-June 2004

23,483.68

June 2004

1 month

4. Expenditure Review Initiatives (ERI).

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Public Expenditure Review of Development Cooperation Ireland’s Area Based Programme in Inhambane, Mozambique

5,189

March, 2003

3 months

EU Accession Training Programme Public Expenditure Review 2001-2003

4,878.82

October, 2004

12 months

Report on the Cultural Relations with other Countries Programme, 2000-2002

1,500

March, 2005

24 months

Public Expenditure Review of Development Cooperation Ireland’s Support to Afghanistan 2000-2003

4,107

March, 2005

5 months

5. Strategy Statements/Annual Reports — Department of Foreign Affairs.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Department of Foreign Affairs Strategy Statement 2003-2005

8,000

August, 2003

11 months

Department of Foreign Affairs Annual Report 2002

6,000

November, 2003

8 months

Department of Foreign Affairs Annual Report 2003

8,000

May, 2005

10 months

6. Task Force on Policy regarding Emigrants.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Report of the Task Force on Policy regarding Emigrants

136,086

December, 2001

9 months.

7. Department of Foreign Affairs Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Forum on Human Rights.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Department of Foreign Affairs Fourth Annual NGO Forum on Human Rights

4,565

July, 2002

12 months

The Department of Foreign Affairs Fifth Annual NGO Forum on Human Rights

2,590

April, 2004

8 months

The Department of Foreign Affairs Sixth Annual NGO Forum on Human Rights

3,774

April, 2005

4 months

8. Advisory Board for Development Cooperation Ireland.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Annual Report 2003

€6624.50

April 2004

1 month

Annual Report 2004

Awaiting invoice

April 2005

2 months

9. The Irish Aid Advisory Committee published a number of technical reports on the topic of HIV/AIDS jointly with Ireland Aid in 2000 and 2002.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

(i) HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa: a development issue for Irish Aid and (ii) An HIV/AIDS Strategy for the Ireland Aid Programme

9,000 for both reports

January, 2000

2 months

Experiences and Lessons of Best Practice in Addressing HIV/AIDS

4,040

June, 2002

1 month

10. Annual Reports — Development Cooperation Division.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Ireland Aid Annual Report 2001

23,276

October, 2002

3 months

Development Cooperation Ireland Annual Report 2002

22,844

October, 2003

3 months

Development Cooperation Ireland Annual Report 2003

53,644

October, 2004

3 months

11. Other Reports — Development Cooperation Division.

Report Title

Cost

Date of Publication

Preparation Period (Approximate)

Report of the Ireland Aid Review Committee

15,391.39

February, 2002

12 months

Research Report and Seminar Proceedings on the Extent and Effectiveness of Development Education at Primary and Second Level

19,000

February, 2003

36 months

Feasibility Study: An Approach to Developing an Accreditation Framework for the Development Education Sector

6,000

September, 2003

9 months

Development Cooperation Ireland’s South Africa Country Strategy Paper 2004-2006

5,805

April, 2004

3 months

Gender Equality Policy Document

5,881

September, 2004

18 months

Departmental Expenditure.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

169 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the total spend here on arts and culture over the past year; the spend on a yearly basis over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21484/05]

The Deputy will be aware that the arts and culture areas are funded through various means, not all of which fall within my remit, for example, local authority funding for arts and cultural measures is not provided by my Department. Accordingly, the figures provided in the table below relate solely to funding provided by my Department since its inception in June 2002. It should be noted that the figure for 2002 relates only to the period June-December. The 2005 figure represents my Department's allocation for the year.

Year

Funding €000

2002

94,361

2003

83,573

2004

111,255

2005

119,472

Sports Capital Programme.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

170 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will allocate a grant under the sports capital programme to a project (details supplied) in County Galway in order to allow the project to proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21613/05]

The national lottery-funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, allocates funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The programme is advertised on an annual basis.

Applications for funding under the 2005 programme were invited through advertisements in the press on last 5 and 6 December. The closing date for receipt of applications was 4 February 2005. All the 1,362 applications received before that deadline, including one from the organisation in question, are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

171 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of reports which have been published in his Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21624/05]

My Department has published a total of eight reports since it was formed in June 2002. These reports are listed in the following table.

Title

Date of Publication

Cost of Publication (€)

Preparation Time

Report of the Attorney General on the award of the operator contract for the Aquatic and Leisure Centre

November 2002

Nil (Published on Department’s website only.)

Six months

New Horizons for Irish Tourism: An Agenda for Action

September 2003

€49,624

9 months

First Progress Report of the Tourism Action Plan Implementation Group

August 2004

€480

Within 7 months

Second Progress Report of the Tourism Action Plan Implementation Group

April 2005

€508

Within 8 months

Public Art: Per Cent for Arts Scheme — General National Guidelines 2004

December 2004

€22,699

2 years

Annual Report 2002/2003

December 2004

€8,232

3 months

Statement of Strategy 2003-2005

December 2003

€9,353

3 months

Statement of Strategy 2005-2007

June 2005 (on Department’s website)

Currently being printed

3 months

Industrial Development.

Phil Hogan

Question:

172 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of the sale of an IDA advance factory (details supplied) in County Leitrim which took place in 2002; the price paid and the conditions attached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21392/05]

The operation of the IDA industrial property portfolio is an operational issue for IDA Ireland and one in which I, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, have no direct function.

I am informed by IDA that it approved the sale of the relevant building to BFN Foods for the sum of €190,460 on 8 April 2002 and the sale was closed on 30 September 2002 with standard leasehold conditions applying to such cases.

As part of the IDA marketing effort for this building, an attractive sale price was agreed by the board of IDA Ireland and put in place to attract new investment into the Drumshanbo area. This was offered to all projects considering purchasing the property. This building had been vacant for a number of years despite the best efforts of IDA Ireland to market it and no project was secured until the BFN project was negotiated.

Work Permits.

John McGuinness

Question:

173 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department will arrange an appeal in relation to an application for a work permit in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny with a view to granting them the permit for another person; and if the case will be expedited. [21394/05]

The work permit section of my Department took a decision to refuse this application on 13 June 2005 in line with Government policy, which is to only consider applications in respect of highly paid and highly skilled positions. The employer was notified of this decision in writing and of their right to appeal. To date no such appeal has been received.

John McGuinness

Question:

174 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a response will be expedited to a recent submission for a work permit in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21407/05]

The work permit section of my Department has informed me that they have no record of a work permit application in this instance. Since the accession of the ten new member states on 1 May 2004 it is Government policy only to consider applications in respect of highly paid and highly skilled positions.

Metrology Service.

John Cregan

Question:

175 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status and future of the metrology unit under her Department; if he will report on proposed changes; the reason they are being considered; if all parties, including staff, have an input into the decision; the objections to the changes (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21451/05]

The National Metrology Laboratory, NML, is the national metrology institute for Ireland. It is responsible for the development, maintenance and dissemination of the national measurement standards for physical units to Irish users. The NML resided within the functionality of Forbairt until 1998.

The Government decided, in the context of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act 1998, that the functions of Enterprise Ireland, EI, which succeeded Forbairt, would be rationalised in line with its core functions which principally relate to assisting the development of indigenous enterprise in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. As a result the Government decided to transfer the NML from Forbairt-EI to NSAI. As the national metrology functions were not specifically provided for under statute it was decided to transfer this function on an administrative basis. The national metrology functions are related to those of the NSAI and can be encompassed within the functions of NSAI as set out in section 7 of the National Standards Authority of Ireland Act 1996.

A consultation process involving all relevant parties, including staff and trade union representatives, commenced in 2002. Agreement to re-designate NML staff as NSAI staff was not reached at that stage. A further round of consultation with the relevant parties is under way at present. Agreement on the secondment of NML staff to the NSAI is anticipated before the end of 2005. Section 50 of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act 1998, gives authority to the Minister to designate staff of Forfás or Enterprise Ireland, which includes the staff of NML, to be transferred to the staff of NSAI.

The integration of the staff and functions of the NML with NSAI was progressed significantly this year with the grant-in-aid for NML being paid directly to the NSAI. In addition, the NSAI is preparing, in consultation with staff interests, a strategy statement for the function which will be supported by the transfer of significant Exchequer funding on a multi-annual basis.

It is clear to me that the future of NML and the dynamic industrial sectors which it serves will be optimised by being positioned within the NSAI because of the coherence with its functions and the fact that the NML functions are not aligned with those of Enterprise Ireland. I see the NML as having a critical and defined role within NSAI which will be of benefit to both organisations and, more important, will enhance the delivery of public services to the clients of NSAI-NML.

Redundancy Provisions.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

176 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a person (details supplied) can apply for voluntary redundancy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21560/05]

The position is that illness alone is not a valid reason for redundancy. However, if a redundancy situation exists in a company, the person concerned could seek a statutory redundancy lump sum from the employer. In this case, the company is being taken over. Employees bring with them accumulated employment rights including service for the purpose of calculating statutory redundancy. The new employer must have due regard to these accumulated employment rights.

If the new employer does not wish to take over all of the employees, then the old employer would be obliged to pay statutory redundancy to those that were not being taken over. If that situation occurs then the person concerned could seek redundancy from his employer. If the employer refuses to pay him, then it would be open to him to bring an appeal against his employer before the Employment Appeals Tribunal for a decision in the matter.

Bullying in the Workplace.

Finian McGrath

Question:

177 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will respond to the representations made to him in 2004 by Mandate in the area of violence in the retail sector. [21563/05]

Finian McGrath

Question:

178 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will act on the commitments given (details supplied) to Mandate concerning the serious issue of violence in the retail sector. [21564/05]

Finian McGrath

Question:

179 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in view of the vulnerable position of workers in the retail sector, he has proposals to ask the Garda separately to record all incidents of violence in the retail sector; if he will work with Mandate, IBEC, the Garda and the Health and Safety Authority to reduce violence to shop workers; and if he will implement urgent measures to protect workers in this sector who deal with the public on a daily basis. [21565/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 to 179, inclusive, together.

Violence in any sector of the economy is a matter for reporting to the Garda for investigation and prosecution where an offence has been committed. It would not be appropriate for me to single out any sector for special treatment by the Garda.

Physical ill-treatment of workers has long been recognised as unacceptable. It is clear that the Mandate trade union is particularly concerned about its members who are on the receiving end of violence and other unacceptable behaviour from customers in the retail sector.

Where violence is identified as a hazard at any workplace, employers are required under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, to include a provision in their safety statement to deal with the problem. The new Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2005, which will shortly be enacted and commenced, requires in section 8 an employer to manage and conduct work activities so as to prevent improper conduct or behaviour likely to prejudice safety and health. This is a new element in the Bill, the purpose of which is to consolidate and update the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 and to include relevant provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 1993, which implement, in part, requirements of Directive No. 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 of the Council of the European Union on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the health and safety of workers in the workplace.

While there are no specific occupational health and safety regulations relating to the prevention of violence at the workplace, an information and advisory booklet on this matter is available from the Health and Safety Authority. This is a helpful aid to both employers and workers in dealing with this difficult matter.

On 15 April last, the Health and Safety Authority hosted a seminar and workshop on violence at work. In attendance were representatives from public and private sectors, large and mid-sized companies, occupational health professionals and many employee assistance personnel. It was presented in partnership with a company who provide employee assistance services to many enterprises across the public and private sector.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

180 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of reports which have been published in his Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21625/05]

The information requested by the Deputy cannot be provided within the timescale available.

Officials of my Department are currently compiling a list of reports which have been published by my Department since June 1997. As a significant number of reports would have been prepared internally by Department staff, the proportion of staff time which related to the preparation of these reports cannot be costed at this point. The length of time it took to prepare each report will be provided where that information is available. I will have the information forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is compiled.

Services for Persons with Disabilities.

Joan Burton

Question:

181 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the new resources which will be committed to secure equality for persons with disabilities in relation to the findings of the recent report by the Economic and Social Research Institute that persons with disabilities are twice as likely to be poor than the rest of the population, have lower educational qualifications and live a less active social life. [21330/05]

David Stanton

Question:

188 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the ERSI report, Disability and Social Inclusion in Ireland; his views on the findings of the report that between 1994 and 2001 the proportion of disabled adults at risk of poverty rose sharply from 21% to 38%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21634/05]

David Stanton

Question:

189 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his views on the fact that according to an ERSI study, Disability and Social Inclusion in Ireland, persons with disabilities are twice as likely to be at risk of poverty than the general population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21635/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 181, 188 and 189 together.

It is clear from the ESRI Report, Disability and Social Inclusion in Ireland, that the barriers faced by people with disabilities and, indeed, other groups who are vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion, are multi-faceted and require a multi-agency response.

The National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion 2003-2005, sets out the framework for the Government's response to these problems. The current plan sets out the range of policies and programmes, such as income and employment supports, health and education, which are being undertaken by relevant Departments aimed at reducing or eliminating poverty and social exclusion.

The national action plan specifically targets people with disabilities as one of a number of groups who are particularly vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion. The overall aim for people with disabilities is to increase their participation in work and society generally, and to assist them and their families to lead full and independent lives. The plan details specific targets and actions which include: rehabilitative training provision and skills development; increased participation in third level education; specific employment supports for people with disabilities and employers; access to health care; and care of people with disabilities.

The office for social inclusion, OSI, which is based in my Department, has overall responsibility for developing, co-ordinating and driving the national action plan. The OSI is currently completing a comprehensive review of progress against the targets contained in the current plan and a progress report will be submitted to the EU by the end of this month.

Over the past number of years there have been significant real improvements in social welfare payments which increased at about the same percentage rate as gross average industrial earnings.

However, households where a person moved from inactivity to employment would have seen a more significant rise in income.

Many households indeed moved from having one to two incomes. As a result, while many persons with disabilities who are not in employment saw their living standards improve, their position relative to other people fell back.

There has been a substantial increase in Government spending on disability specific services. This year, some €2.9 billion, representing almost 7.5% of gross current public expenditure on services, will be spent in this way. This compares with expenditure of just under €0.8 billion in 1997, a 3.5-fold increase in eight years. The figure of €2.9 billion does not include the €2.1 billion which will be spent by my Department in 2005 on income supports for people with disability, illness and their carers.

The Government has guaranteed a multi-annual investment programme totalling over €900 million, comprising both capital and current funding for high priority disability support services, over the years 2006 to 2009. The funding is focused mainly in the health and education sectors and will enhance service levels where they are most needed.

The Government remains committed to continuing efforts to alleviate poverty, especially for those who have not been in a position to benefit from the employment opportunities afforded by high economic growth.

During the period 2001 to 2005, there were substantial real increases in social welfare rates, with the lowest rates increasing by 40% while the consumer price index increased by just over13%. As a result of the 2005 budget, social welfare payments have increased by three times the expected rate of inflation. Government policy is to increase the level of social welfare over the period to 2007 and this commitment will be delivered. This will benefit all social welfare recipients, including those in receipt of disability payments.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Mary Upton

Question:

182 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will review the decision of his Department to deprive pensioners (details supplied) in Dublin 12 of their entitlements to the fuel allowance. [21372/05]

There is no question of depriving pensioners of their entitlements to fuel allowances. Fuel allowances have never been payable in cases where a person has a subsidised heating service, such as those provided by Dublin City Council at a number of its developments.

To qualify for an allowance under the national fuel scheme an applicant must be in receipt of a qualifying payment, live alone or only with a dependent spouse-partner-child or children or with other eligible recipients and be unable to provide for his or her heating needs from his or her own resources.

The residents concerned are provided with subsidised heating by Dublin City Council, at the complex where they reside and, consequently, are not entitled to a fuel allowance.

Social Welfare Code.

John Cregan

Question:

183 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the living alone allowance might be extended to those not in receipt of a social welfare pension, but whose existence is known and recognised by the granting of the free schemes. [21430/05]

The living alone allowance is an additional payment of €7.70 per week made to people aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of certain social welfare type payments and who are living alone. It is also paid to people under 66 years of age who are living alone and are receiving one of a number of invalidity type schemes.

It is not a payment in its own right but an allowance which can only be paid as a supplement to a social welfare payment. As such, it cannot be paid to people without a social welfare entitlement or to those whose pension payments are made under the social security regimes of other countries.

Social Welfare Benefits.

John Cregan

Question:

184 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when the fuel allowance was last increased; if he will report on the current rules regarding income eligibility; and if he will increase the fuel allowance and income eligibility in budget 2006. [21436/05]

To qualify for an allowance under the national fuel scheme an applicant must be in receipt of a qualifying payment, live alone or only with a dependent spouse-partner-child or children or with other eligible recipients and be unable to provide for his or her heating needs from his or her own resources.

People who are in receipt of relevant non-contributory social assistance payments do not have to undergo a further means assessment for fuel allowance purposes. An income test applies in the case of other applicants, whereby they and members of their household may have means of up to €51 a week derived from income or from savings-capital of up to €46,000, above the benchmark of the old age contributory pension rate appropriate to their household size, and still qualify for the fuel allowance.

This formula provides an in-built annual indexation of the eligibility limits for fuel allowance purposes. These income limits are increased automatically in line with the prevailing rate of old age contributory pension.

The last increase in the fuel allowance was made in 2002, when rates were increased from £5, €6.35, to €9 in January of that year. There has been no change in the supplement of €3.90 payable in the designated urban smokeless fuel zones.

The very significant increases since then in primary social welfare payment rates have improved the income position in real terms for people dependent on the social welfare system. These rates are payable throughout the year and are intended to cover basic living costs, including cooking and heating, supplemented where applicable by the fuel allowance during the winter heating season. Many households also qualify for electricity or gas allowances throughout the year under the social welfare household benefits scheme. In addition a heating supplement may be payable through the supplementary welfare allowance scheme in cases of individual special need.

Apart from the automatic indexation of the fuel allowance income limits each year in line with general social welfare pension increases, there are no plans at present to increase fuel allowance scheme rates or to amend the eligibility criteria. Any such change to the scheme would have to be considered in a budget context, and in the light of other priorities.

John Cregan

Question:

185 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will increase the number of free units of electricity and gas given under the household free schemes due to the significant increase in energy costs in the past five years (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21438/05]

David Stanton

Question:

190 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his plans to extend the free travel scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21636/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 and 190 together.

The electricity allowance covers normal standing charges and up to 1,800 units of electricity each year. VAT due on this standard allowance is also covered. The value of the allowance, if fully taken up, is €359.91 per annum.

The free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years, or over, to all carers in receipt of carer's allowance and to carers of people in receipt of constant attendance or prescribed relative's allowance.

It is also available to people under age 66 who are in receipt of certain disability type welfare payments, such as disability allowance, invalidity pension and blind person's pension. Improvements to these schemes would be a matter to be considered in a budgetary context.

Mary Upton

Question:

186 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will review an application for the respite care grant by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6W. [21531/05]

The person to whom the Deputy refers submitted an application for the respite care grant on 9 May 2005 in respect of full-time care provided by her in respect of her parents. A decision not to award the respite care grant in this case was made by a deciding officer on 10 June 2005. Among the documentary information relied upon by the deciding officer was the opinion of a medical assessor who, on examination of the medical evidence submitted with the application, was of the view that the people being cared for were not so incapacitated as to require full time care and attention.

A deciding officer may revise any decision on receipt of new facts or evidence. Should further medical evidence supporting the contention that the people in question requires full-time care and attention be submitted to my Department, the situation will be reviewed.

The carer is entitled to formally appeal the decision to disallow the respite care grant by submitting an appeal to the social welfare appeals office.

Communications Masts.

Tony Gregory

Question:

187 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the concerns of staff at his Department’s Aras Mhic Diarmuida building and a petition signed by a large number of staff have been brought to his attention regarding this installation of telecommunications masts on the roof of the building; if this will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21532/05]

In line with Government policy to support the rollout of 3G mobile technology, the Office of Public Works has entered into contractual arrangements with mobile phone companies to locate telecommunications infrastructure, on Government buildings, as necessary. Aras Mhic Dhiarmada has been identified as one such building.

My Department is aware that staff have health and safety concerns in relation to this and has received assurances from the Office of Public Works that the installation and operation of this equipment will strictly comply with all relevant health and safety standards, EU regulations and guidelines on emissions issued by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, ICNIRP.

The site will be surveyed prior to the mast going live and afterwards to ensure that it complies with the guidelines referred to above. To further allay staff concerns my Department has contracted another company to take readings of emissions to ensure compliance. The result of both of these readings will be conveyed to staff.

Questions Nos. 188 and 189 answered with Question No. 181.
Question No. 190 answered with QuestionNo. 185.

Anti-Poverty Strategy.

David Stanton

Question:

191 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his views on the fact that 52.7% of lone parents are not economically active in comparison to just 28.2% of persons in a couple relationship with children (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21637/05]

Despite the huge increases in employment participation in Ireland in recent years and in employment opportunities generally, the proportion of lone parents in employment is low compared to other developed countries. This was borne out by an OECD report on reconciling work and family life, published in 2003, which found that employment participation among lone parents at 45% in this country is among the lowest in the OECD. This is despite the huge employment growth and increasing female participation in the workforce in recent years.

It is also true that both employment and labour force participation by lone parents in Ireland is lower than for other family units.

A sub-group of the senior officials group on social inclusion is examining obstacles to employment for lone parent families, with particular emphasis on income supports, employment, education, child care and support programmes and information.

This group is scheduled to report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion by the end of July. We must also look closely at income supports and at how we can adjust those supports to better address the social problems that can arise for those who receive these payments. In this regard, my Department has established a working group to review the income support arrangements for lone parents. Issues being addressed include the contingency basis of the one-parent family payment, cohabitation, individualisation, maintenance and secondary benefits. The findings of this group will feed into the work of the senior officials sub-group.

It is intended that the outcome of these reviews will contribute to concrete proposals designed to better support and encourage lone parents in achieving a better standard of living, employment and education opportunities, and a better future for themselves and their children. These will be the main criteria against which recommendations in the reports will be judged.

I am committed to reforms that will improve the quality of life for lone parents and their children by offering them respect and support while avoiding poverty traps.

Question No. 192 answered with QuestionNo. 43.
Question No. 193 answered with QuestionNo. 49.

Public Transport.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

194 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on his proposal for a Dublin transport authority and the timescale proposed for its establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21562/05]

As I have indicated previously before this House, I am committed to reforming the public transport market in order to provide opportunities for both public and private companies to deliver increased public services and to ensure the taxpayer and the customer gets a high quality of service and best value for money.

To this end, I propose to establish an independent national public transport commission to, inter alia, allocate Exchequer subvention for public transport services, both bus and rail, through public service contracts, license commercial bus services and regulate fares on all rail services, LUAS and buses.

In addition to modernising the regulatory framework, I am currently finalising plans for a major programme of investment in public transport and I am considering the structures and arrangements which will need to be put in place to ensure that the best possible return is achieved from this investment. In this context, I am giving consideration as to the institutional structure required to ensure the timely, co-ordinated and integrated delivery of public transport investment in the greater Dublin area. Work will continue in my Department to identify the best way forward. However, I envisage that whatever arrangements are put in place will work effectively with the proposed national public transport commission. I should add that operational planning of services will remain with the public transport providers.

Officials in my Department are continuing to meet with stakeholders on how to modernise the regulatory structure governing public transport.

Driving Tests.

Willie Penrose

Question:

195 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Transport the details of current driving test waiting times, by centre, for the latest date for which figures are available; the number of applicants waiting for their driving test for each driving test centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21249/05]

The table below sets out the numbers waiting and the average waiting time at each driving test centre on 13 June 2005.

Average Waiting times and numbers waiting for Driving Tests at 13 June 2005.

Centre

Average Weeks Waiting

Numbers waiting

North Leinster Region

Finglas

29

10,425

Dundalk

26

3,274

Mullingar

23

1,998

Navan

35

4,525

Raheny

40

7,772

South Leinster Region

Churchtown/Rathgar

41

11,584

Gorey

31

2,418

Naas

31

5,200

Tullamore

34

1,936

Wicklow

41

2,618

Tallaght

38

9,137

West Region

Athlone

26

1,180

Birr

26

1,280

Castlebar

33

2,215

Clifden

21

362

Ennis

18

1,265

Galway

26

3,074

Loughrea

15

1,067

Roscommon

17

913

Tuam

20

1,112

North West Region

Ballina

26

1,071

Buncrana

35

713

Carrick-on-Shannon

22

963

Cavan

26

1,633

Donegal

29

1,184

Letterkenny

37

2,327

Longford

25

950

Monaghan

26

1,222

Sligo

32

1,626

South East Region

Carlow

38

2,442

Clonmel

39

2,157

Dungarvan

36

1,651

Kilkenny

31

2,139

Nenagh

43

913

Portlaoise

41

1,653

Thurles

40

1,245

Tipperary

22

1,144

Waterford

29

2,875

Wexford

27

2,426

South West Region

Cork

25

7,056

Killarney

35

2,144

Kilrush

29

494

Limerick

29

3,913

Mallow

29

2,135

Newcastle West

28

1,855

Shannon

28

892

Skibbereen

36

2,102

Tralee

17

1,734

Dublin Port Tunnel.

Richard Bruton

Question:

196 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the restrictions he intends to impose on vehicles whose size will not permit them to use the Dublin Port tunnel. [21380/05]

The preparation of a HGV traffic management strategy designed to ensure that maximum traffic flow benefits are secured from the Dublin Port tunnel, including arrangements to cater for the limited number of HGVs unable to use the tunnel, is a matter for Dublin City Council.

Richard Bruton

Question:

197 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the legislation under which Dublin City Council will be able to ban heavy goods vehicles from inside the canal zones except for access once the tunnel is open with specific procedures for issuing permits. [21381/05]

The general legislative framework to support the application of restrictions or prohibitions on traffic of the kind mentioned by the Deputy is set out in section 35 of the Road Traffic Act 1994.

Traffic Management.

Seán Ryan

Question:

198 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the situation that exists for motorists using the N32, particularly at peak periods, when traffic is backed up to the Malahide Road while they are charged €1.80 each way in toll charges; the action being taken to resolve this situation. [21384/05]

The Roads Act 1993, provides that the planning, design and implementation of national road improvement projects, such as the upgrade of the M1-M50 and N32 junction, is a matter for the National Roads Authority, NRA, and the local authorities concerned -- in this case Fingal County Council.

Vehicle Regulations.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

199 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the regulations which cover the operation of car transporters; the accident data relating to such vehicles; if his attention has been drawn to public concerns regarding the safety of such vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21413/05]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

218 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the regulations which cover the operation of car transporters, the accidents data relating to such vehicles; if his attention has been drawn to public concerns regarding the safety of such vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21538/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 218 together.

The Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 2002, the Road Traffic (Construction and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 2003 to 2004 and the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 1996 govern the use of vehicles, including car transporters, in public places. Safety standards applied under these regulations relate, inter alia, to maximum dimensions, overall vehicle weight and axle weight limits and fitment of speed limiters. Car transporters would also be liable to periodic vehicle testing in accordance with the European Communities (Vehicle Testing) Regulations 2004.

Information on collisions involving car transporters is not available to my Department nor is it contained in the road collision facts, published by the National Roads Authority. My Department is not aware of any specific concern regarding inherent safety deficiencies with these vehicles.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

200 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which he intends to provide for increases in the rolling stock on all commuter rail routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21510/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

204 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he has received any submissions from interested parties with a view to encouraging the use of rail and bus transport in view of the chaotic traffic situation with particular reference to County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21514/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport when he expects to be in a position to announce the higher utilisation of the rail service serving County Kildare with particular reference to encourage greater use in the rail service thereby alleviating road traffic congestion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21518/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

209 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the way in which he intends to increase the daily commuter capacity at the various rail stations throughout County Kildare on an individual basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21519/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the way in which he intends to encourage the greater use of public transport with particular reference to the rail services for commuters using the rail stations at Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip, Hazelhatch, Newbridge and Kildare; the extent to which daily use can be increased and by what means; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21520/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200, 204 and 208 to 210, inclusive, together.

I refer the Deputy to my answer to parliamentary question reference number 15870/05 of 12 May 2005.

The scheduling and timetabling of rail services is a day-to-day operational matter for Iarnród Éireann to consider.

On the basis of projected demand into the future, Iarnród Éireann has submitted a greater Dublin integrated rail network plan, which proposes the enhancement of all suburban and outer suburban services into Dublin through the development of infrastructure and the acquisition of additional rolling stock. The proposals are being examined by my Department, at present, in the context of the multi-annual investment framework for transport.

Specifically in Kildare, I understand that Iarnród Éireann plans to place the majority of the new 36 diesel railcars, which will be introduced into service this year, on the Sligo-Dublin line to increase capacity and to remove older rolling stock from service. This will be of direct benefit to Maynooth passengers. The balance of the new fleet will be assigned to other outer suburban services to increase capacity on those lines. This capacity increase comes on top of a capacity increase of 24% on the Maynooth line and an increase of up to 160% on the Kildare line delivered in the past 18 months. In addition, I am still awaiting revised proposals from Iarnród Éireann in relation to four-tracking a section of the Kildare line.

Questions Nos. 201 to 203, inclusive, answered with Question No. 69.
Question No. 204 answered with QuestionNo. 200.

Road Network.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

205 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the full extent of the cost overrun on the port tunnel and the Red Cow roundabout; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21515/05]

The construction of the Dublin Port tunnel, including contractual matters related thereto, and the upgrade of the M50 including the Red Cow interchange are matters for the National Roads Authority, NRA, and the local authorities concerned.

I understand from the NRA that the estimated final cost of the Dublin Port tunnel is expected to be €751 million, including price variation, against an estimated cost at tender stage of €580 million — year 2000 prices, excluding provision for price variation in line with construction inflation indices.

The increase is mainly due to the operation of the price variation clause over the period since tender receipt in 2000 to date, with a limited number of other factors, such as higher than anticipated land settlements, impacting on the updated overall project cost. Construction work on the upgrade of the M50, which include the conversion of the Red Cow interchange to a freeflow system, has not yet commenced,

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

206 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he has received any communication from Bus Éireann or Bus Átha Cliath with a view to providing a feeder bus service to the various commuter rail stations in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21516/05]

I refer the Deputy to my reply on this matter of 12 May 2005. The position remains unchanged.

There are some licence applications under consideration in my Department for bus services in the County Kildare area which include stops at train stations. The provision of public bus services on specific routes is a commercial and operational matter for bus operators. It is open to any private bus operator who may be interested to apply to my Department for an annual passenger licence under the Road Transport Act 1932 to operate a regular bus service on such as those routes mentioned in the Deputy's question and my Department would look favourably on any such application.

It is also open to Bus Éireann to initiate new services subject to compliance with the necessary regulatory requirement of giving advance notice to my Department and to compliance with the provisions of section 25 of the Transport Act 1958 concerning competition with licensed private operators.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

207 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he is satisfied that full health and safety requirements prevail on all public transport with particular reference to commuter buses and trains; his proposals to fully enhance such measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21517/05]

I refer the Deputy to my replies to parliamentary questions reference numbers 21477/05 and 21542/05 which I have answered today.

Matters in relation to the health and safety of workers are a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Questions Nos. 208 and 210, inclusive, answered with Question No. 200.

Car Use.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the estimated number of cars used on a daily basis by commuters ten years ago; the number of commuters currently using cars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21521/05]

Census data published by the Central Statistics Office include the means of travel to work. According to the results of the 1991 Census, 533,292 people travelled to work by car, of which 442,293 were car drivers. According to the results of most recent census in 2002, 995,550 travelled to work by car, of which 887,168 were car drivers. The percentage of people travelling by car to work increased from 46.9% in 1991 to 61.8% in 2002. The next census will be carried out in 2006.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

212 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the number of commuters currently availing of public transport on a daily basis at present; the number using such facilities ten years ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21522/05]

Census data published by the Central Statistics Office on the means of travel to work shows that the number of persons travelling to work by bus or train in 2002, the latest census data available; 1996 and 1991 is as follows.

2002

1996

1991

Bus

107,315

98,289

87,377

Train

33,066

22,568

19,834

Total

140,381

120,857

107,211

Traffic Management.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

213 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the way in which it is intended that HGVs from the south, south-west and west will converge on the port tunnel; if it is expected to alleviate traffic congestion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21523/05]

Traffic management in the city centre and in the vicinity of Dublin Port is a matter for Dublin City Council. In parallel with the opening to traffic of the Dublin Port tunnel, Dublin City Council will be introducing a heavy goods vehicle traffic management strategy to ensure that maximum traffic benefits are secured from the Dublin Port tunnel.

My Department's formal role will be to put in place the necessary regulatory framework to support the strategy. I have asked my officials to keep in touch with Dublin City Council as the strategy is finalised so that I may be assured that maximum traffic benefits are indeed secured from it.

Road Network.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport when the port tunnel will be opened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21524/05]

The planning, design and implementation of national road improvement projects, including the Dublin Port tunnel, is a matter for the National Roads Authority, NRA, and the local authorities concerned. I understand from the NRA that the primary construction work on the port tunnel is expected to be completed in December 2005 and that the tunnel will be open to traffic early in 2006, following commissioning of the tunnel's operations and safety features.

Questions Nos. 215 and 216 answered with Question No. 101.

Airport Development Projects.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

217 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport if he has plans to build an airport runway near Schull in west Cork (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21537/05]

There are currently no plans to develop any new regional airports. The existing network of State airports and regional airports is adequate to cater for the air transport needs of all parts of the country for the foreseeable future.

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 199.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

219 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if he has requested the Dublin Airport Authority to increase freight handling capacity at Dublin Airport; if he is satisfied that either existing or planned capacity can handle anticipated growth rates in cargo carrying, in particular the anticipated growth in trade with Asia. [21539/05]

The management and operation of Dublin Airport, including the provision of freight handling facilities, is a day-to-day matter for the Dublin Airport Authority and I have no function with regard to the matter. However, for the information of the Deputy, I understand from the Dublin Airport Authority that current capacity at the airport, which comprises over 16,500 square metres of warehousing together with both dedicated and multi-user aircraft stands, is sufficient to meet anticipated demand for air cargo until the end of this decade. I also understand from the Dublin Airport Authority that any new cargo facilities can be accommodated within the airport campus and that the timing of such developments will be driven by demand growth and-or the possible need to extend facilities for passengers into the existing cargo area.

Driving Tests.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

220 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the driving test centre is closed in Killarney, County Kerry; the steps he intends to take to ensure that alternative accommodation is found immediately for this centre to re-open in its entirety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21540/05]

I refer the Deputy to Question No. 121, which was answered on 16 June 2005. A potentially suitable site for a new Killarney driving test centre has been identified for which negotiations are ongoing between the OPW and the owner. In the meantime, driver testing will resume on Monday, 11 July 2005 and will be conducted from the Quality Inn, Killarney.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

221 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to ensure the availability of seatbelts in the public transport fleet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21541/05]

The European Union has developed proposals to extend the requirement for safety belts to be fitted to all seats in all new vehicles, except for buses used on stage stop routes. Following the approval of the proposals by the European Parliament last month, the way is now open for their early adoption as directives so that new buses, including school buses, being registered from a date to be settled will require to be fitted with safety belts.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

222 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he is satisfied that adequate safety standards apply on all trains and buses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21542/05]

This Government places the highest priority on the safety of our public transport systems. Iarnród Éireann has a statutory responsibility to manage its railway safely. The company has assured me that all railway services on its network operate to strict standards, which are in place to ensure the highest level of safety for its customers and staff. Any safety issues coming to the attention of inspectors of my Department are followed up with Iarnród Éireann and appropriate action taken.

I am providing unprecedented levels of funding to ensure that Iarnród Éireann can fulfil its statutory duty to operate a safe railway. Over the ten-year period from 1999 to 2008, almost €1.2 billion will be invested in the infrastructure and safety management systems of Iarnród Éireann. All significant new infrastructure works on the Iarnród Éireann railway, such as new lines, bridges, signalling systems, etc., must by law be approved by inspectors of my Department before being brought into operation. In practice, Iarnród Éireann liaises with my inspectors from the planning stage of such projects. This ensures the maximum level of public safety.

With regard to Luas, prior to the commencement of services last year, inspectors of my Department satisfied themselves, in accordance with the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001, that the infrastructure, rolling stock and safety systems were adequate. My inspectors continue to monitor developments and take appropriate action as the need arises.

When enacted, the Railway Safety Bill 2001 will put in place more modernised and strengthened systems for the regulation of railway safety. This will include the establishment of a railway safety commission to regulate and enforce railway safety and a railway incident investigation unit to investigate railway accidents. I expect to bring this Bill back to the House in the autumn session and have it enacted before year end. As regards safety standards on buses, I refer the Deputy to my response to Question No. 26 of today's date.

Question No. 223 answered with QuestionNo. 33.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

224 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his plans for a metro; the areas most likely to be served by such a service, having particular regard to the commuter towns throughout County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21545/05]

The programme for Government contains a specific commitment to develop a metro for Dublin with a link to Dublin Airport. The Railway Procurement Agency has submitted to my Department a detailed business case for a metro from the city centre to Dublin Airport while Iarnród Éireann submitted proposals last July for an integrated rail network in the greater Dublin area. The proposals from Iarnród Éireann include the electrification of the Kildare, northern and Maynooth lines and an interconnector tunnel linking Heuston Station to the Docklands to enable greater integration of rail services. While the Railway Procurement Agency has suggested a number of routes for the proposed metro, a final decision will be subject to a statutory approval process which includes a public inquiry.

In the light of the announcement by the Minister for Finance in his Budget Statement of agreement in principle to a ten-year capital investment envelope for transport, work is under way in my Department on a ten-year transport investment framework. An outline of the draft investment framework is currently under active consideration by the Cabinet committee on infrastructure, housing and PPPs. I intend to bring proposals to Government in due course once the Cabinet committee has concluded its work.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

225 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport the number of reports which have been published in his Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21627/05]

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and will be forwarded to him as soon as possible.

Rural Social Scheme.

Enda Kenny

Question:

226 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will report on the problems in respect of the rural social scheme in the Leader areas of the country associated with rural social scheme supervisors and their rates of payment; the number of rural social scheme supervisors currently being paid; the rates of salary currently being paid; if a review of the rate of pay for rural social scheme supervisors will take place; if so, when this will conclude; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21485/05]

I draw the Deputy's attention to his previous question on this matter on 31 May 2005. As I stated on that date, a review of the grant paid for rural social scheme, RSS, supervisors has taken place and my Department has had contact with the Department of Finance in this regard.

There are currently 85 RSS supervisors. An increase in the grant towards employment of supervisors has been sanctioned from the current rate of €357 per week to €407.79 per week with effect from 1 July 2005. This represents an increase of over 14%. In addition, the grant for supervisors will be increased in line with a general round of increases at the same time that these are received by public service workers. The actual rate of payment of supervisors is one for the respective Leader companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

227 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of reports which have been published in his Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21628/05]

Fourteen reports have been published since the establishment of my Department in June 2002. Details of the reports published — the name of each report, the estimated cost of each report, the date of publication of each report and the length of time it took to prepare each report — are given in the following appendix. In relation to estimated costs, it should be noted that amounts quoted in respect of reports prepared by the Department reflect printing and publication costs, while those in respect of reports commissioned externally also include the costs of staff of the company commissioned to produce the report.

Reports Published since June 2002.

Name of report

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Estimate of preparation time

National drugs strategy 2001-2008 — critical implementation path

14,545.00

June 2003

12 months

National drugs strategy 2001-2008 — progress report

34,880.00

March 2005

12 months

National drugs strategy 2001-2008 — mid-term review

36,300.65

June 2005

Six months

Establishing a modern statutory framework for charities: report on the public consultation

15,000

September 2004

Three months

Review of enterprise support in rural areas

76,000

January 2005

14 months

Review of Area Development Ltd

99,558.80

April 2004

Five months

“Managing Countryside Recreation in Ireland” (conference report)

1,250

April 2005

Four months

“Report of the Consultation Group on Access to Waymarked Ways”

900 (facilitation costs only)

January 2004

Three months

“Mid-Term Review of the Leader+ Community Initiative”

100,000

December 2003

Six months

*Departmental annual report 2002

20,233.80

October 2003

*Departmental annual report 2003

22,958.43

September 2004

Review of certain subsidised ferry services to the islands

95,641.67

March 2004

Eight months

Report of the working group on the creation of employment in the Gaeltacht

In-house

December 2002

Eight months

Territorial cohesion: Meeting new challenges in an enlarged EU

19,462.85**

December 2004

Six months

*Work ongoing on such reports throughout the year.

**34% of this cost was recouped from the European Commission.

Grant Payments.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

228 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the single payment entitlement of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21385/05]

The person named has not to date submitted an application requesting the transfer of single payment entitlements following the gift of lands from his father. An official from my Department has contacted the person named and advised him of the application procedure. Following receipt and processing of his completed application form, he will be notified of the outcome and details of his entitlements will issue to him.

Animal Welfare Bodies.

Richard Bruton

Question:

229 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the financial support provided to the various animals charities over the past five years; the way in which the growth in funding for this purpose compares to the overall growth in her Department’s expenditure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21412/05]

The position as regards my Department is that its statutory responsibility relates to the welfare and protection of farmed animals. My Department has, nonetheless, in recent years made ex gratia payments to a number of appropriate bodies involved in the actual delivery of animal care and welfare services throughout the country. The funding available to any individual organisation is dependent on resources available and the level of demand and is therefore intended only as a contribution to the overall costs of the organisations. The amounts paid under this heading were £487,500 for 2001; €650,741 for 2002; €500,000 for 2003; €850,000 for 2004 and €1,000,000 for 2005.

Until 2004, these ex gratia payments were made from residual funds available in my Department’s Vote at the end of the year. However from 2004, specific provisions for this purpose have been included in the Department’s Estimates. As these are ex gratia payments, it would not be appropriate to relate them to the growth in the Department’s overall expenditure. Nevertheless, it will be seen that the totals paid in respect of 2004 and 2005 are significantly higher than for the earlier years.

Grant Payments.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

230 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will reconsider the outcome of an application for a person (details supplied) in County Cork under the 2004 EU special beef premium scheme. [21416/05]

The person named above submitted four applications under the 2004 special beef premium scheme, in respect of a total of 15 animals. The first application, in respect of five animals, was received on 30 March 2004; the second application, in respect of two animals; was received on 29 July 2004; the third application, in respect of 3 animals, was received on 1 December 2004; and the fourth application, in respect of five animals, was received on 22 December 2004.

Following computer validation, it was found that two of the animals included on the fourth application were CMMS non-compliant in that they were not recorded as being in the herd of the person named on the date of application under the 2004 special beef premium scheme, as required under the terms and conditions of the scheme. The appropriate regulatory penalty was that the animals in question be rejected, that is, not paid premium, and a subsequent reduction penalty being applied across all bovine schemes. By letter dated 19 May 2005, the person named was advised of the findings and the proposed course of action and offered the opportunity to appeal the decision. To date, the person named has not availed of this option.

Bovine Diseases.

Michael Noonan

Question:

231 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if compensation will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Cork for the slaughter of two reactors; if she will waive any legal costs incurred by her Department for cases involving the first animal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21482/05]

Two reactors have been identified on the farm of the person named. One of the animals referred to was a TB reactor, discovered in 2002. The person named has been informed in writing that no compensation will be paid by my Department with regard to this animal. The case is currently the subject of legal proceedings issued by the person named and it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment upon the issue of the costs of those proceedings.

The second of the animals referred to is a brucellosis reactor, discovered in March 2005. The local district veterinary office will process the appropriate payment as soon as the necessary documentation, which has been requested from the person concerned, is received.

Grant Payments.

Pat Breen

Question:

232 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food, further to Question No. 350 of 31 May 2005, when a person, details supplied, in County Clare will receive the REP scheme payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21483/05]

Payment will issue within the next ten days.

Decentralisation Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

233 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food, further to Question No. 254 of 18 May 2005, if the review has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21549/05]

The review referred to by the Deputy has not been completed yet.

Departmental Reports.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

234 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of reports which have been published in her Department since June 1997; the name of each report; the estimated cost of each report; the date of publication of each; the length of time it took to prepare each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21629/05]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following schedule:

Schedule 1997.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

1996 annual report

8,559

September 1997

Annual publication

Annual review and outlook 1996/1997

5,153

March 1997

Three months

1998.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

1997 annual report

8,723

September 1998

Annual publication

Annual review and outlook 1997/1998

3,189

March 1998

Four months

2nd statement of strategy 1998-2000

14,050

May 1998

Five months

Report of the food industry development group

2,136

December 1998

Nine months

Report of the food industry development group

2,136

December 1998

Nine months

1999.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

Annual review and outlook 1998/1999

3,189

March 1999

Four months

1998 annual report

11,262

September 1999

Annual publication

Report of the sheepmeat forum

1,200

October 1999

20 months

Report of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE, scientific advisory committee

Not available

July 1999

18 months

2000.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

Report of the advisory group on the role of women in agriculture

Circa €31,000

September 2000

Circa one year

Annual review and outlook 1999/2000

€5,074

April 2000

Four months

Agri food 2010 — main report and plan of action costs

€26,938

Agri food 2010 — main report

March 2000

Ten months

Agri Food 2010 — plan of action

August 2000

Five months

Report of the task force on agricultural education and training

€9,500

July 2000

Seven months

Report of the food quality assurance review group

None other than expenses paid to some members of group

December 2000

Ten months

1999 annual report

€12,715

September 2000

Five months

IT strategy 2000

£120,000

February 2000

Six months

eGovernment strategy

£28,800

February 2000

Two months

CAP rural development plan 2000-2006

€19,697.50

November 2000

Nine months

2001.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

2000 annual report

23,274

August 2001

Annual publication

Annual review and outlook 2000/2001

5,093

April 2001

Three months

3rd statement of strategy 2001-2004

13,731

November 2001

Six months

Agri food 2010 — implementation report

6,641

December 2001

Four months

Strategic study of the Irish pigmeat industry

Commissioned by Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development — paid for by Enterprise Ireland

2001

Seven months

2002.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

Report of the food labelling group

€13,500

December 2002

Six months

Annual review and outlook 2001/2002

€14,089

April 2002

Four months

Eco-friendly farming report

€1,219

May 2002

Three months

Agri food 2010 — implementation report reprint

€2,910

Agri food 2010 — plan of action reprint

€4,044

2001 annual report

€28, 837

August 2002

Annual publication

Report of the investigation into the presence and influence of lead in the Silvermines area of County Tipperary.

£41,500

June 2000

12 months

Economic evaluation of the impact of foot and mouth disease.

€30,734

March 2002

Six months

2003.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

Agriculture appeals office annual report 2002, English only

4,603

9 October 2003

Five months

Annual review and outlook 2002/2003

11,468

April 2003

Four months

4th statement of strategy 2003-2005

18,150.50

June 2003

Six months

CMMS statistics 2002

12,366

August 2003

Three months

1st progress report to CSPVG

Nil

October 2003

Three months

2002 annual report

40,719

August 2003

Annual publication

A study on the future of the Irish dairy industry

159,000, 1/3 of cost met by Department of Agriculture and Food — remainder borne by Enterprise Ireland and dairy industry

March 2003

2002 annual report of the Department’s consumer liaison panel

2,786

August 2003

C. six months

Mid-term evaluation of the CAP rural development plan 2000-2006

48,647

September 2003

Nine months

2004.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

Agriculture appeals office annual report 2003, English and Irish

11,076, includes printing of both English and Irish versions and cost of translation into Irish.

30 July 2004

Five months

2003 Annual report

26,122

August 2004

Annual publication

Annual review and outlook 2003/2004

11,037

April 2004

Four months

CMMS statistics 2003

13,540

June 2004

Three months

Report of mushroom task force

9,183.60

May 2004

Six months

Expenditure review of programmes in the potato sector

2,420

April 2004

16 months

Expenditure review on purchase for destruction scheme

2,934.25

2004

C. two years

Expenditure review on overseas development assistance

2,420.00

2004

C. two years

2nd progress report to CSPVG*

Nil

April 2004

Three months

3rd progress report to CSPVG*

Nil

September 2004

Three months

Report of the agri-vision 2015 committee

12,000

December 2004

Report of Inter-departmental/agency committee on disposal options for meat and bone meal, MBM.

Nil

January 2004

C. 27 months

A review and appraisal of Ireland’s forestry development strategy

147,620

September 2004

Six months

ICT strategy 2004

89,600

March 2004

Five months

2005.

Title

Estimated cost

Date of publication

Preparation time

Annual review and outlook 2004/2005

16,442

May 2005

Four months

Expenditure review on beef classification scheme

2,934.25

2005

C. two years

4th progress report to CSPVG

Nil

March 2005

Three months

5th statement of strategy 2005-2007

18,500

June 2005

Six months

Expenditure review of early retirement scheme 2000

3,993

April 2005

11 months

Prisoner Transfers.

Dan Neville

Question:

235 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if progress has been made with regard to the legal position of transferring prisoners from the Central Mental Hospital to courts and certifying such persons as sane only to be recertified when the court appearance is over; the number of prisoners to whom this has applied in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21417/05]

The Deputy will be aware that the Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill 2002 has been passed by the Seanad and is currently awaiting Second Stage in the Dáil. Detailed provisions with regard to changes in the law in the matter of certification and decertification of prisoners as raised by the Deputy were inserted in the Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill following agreement of the Seanad on Report Stage.

The following table shows the number of instances where a person was decertified and transferred from the Central Mental Hospital to prison custody and then subsequently recertified later that day and returned to the Central Mental Hospital.

Year

Number of Instances

2003

101

2004

59

2005 (to date)

5

There are a number of persons who transferred and returned to the Central Mental Hospital on more than one occasion in the same day during the time periods referred to above.

Visa Applications.

John Perry

Question:

236 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on a visa for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21340/05]

Visa applications are processed as speedily as possible having regard to the numbers of applications on hand and the resources available to process them. The application referred to by the Deputy is currently pending examination by a visa officer and a decision on the application should be expected in the very near future.

Garda Operations.

Tony Gregory

Question:

237 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost of policing at major concert events at venues such as the RDS and Croke Park; and the amount paid by the concert promoters to cover policing. [21342/05]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that given the large number of events that the Garda Síochána is required to police, detailed costings are not available for all venues. Detailed policing plans and costings are only collated for a representative sample of events. However, it is possible to provide the Deputy with the policing costs associated with two major events held in 2004 at Slane, County Meath, and Marley Park, Dublin.

The Madonna concert was held in August at the Slane venue and the total policing cost amounted to some €421,000 to which the concert promoter contributed €97,000. The Dido concert was also held in August at the Marley Park venue and the total policing cost amounted to some €33,000 to which the concert promoter contributed €15,254.

The organisers of events who request the services of gardaí on a non-public duty basis are made aware of the conditions attached to this arrangement by the relevant district officers and pay for the cost of non-public duties performed by gardaí inside the event location. The cost of normal policing duties performed outside the event location such as traffic control, beat patrols and other policing duties are not paid for by the organisers of the event and fall to be paid from public funds.

Garda Stations.

Enda Kenny

Question:

238 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the deplorable and dilapidated condition of the Garda station at Ballycary, Castlebar, County Mayo and to the fact that this building constitutes an eyesore in a community in which efforts are being made to improve the visual aspect of the village; when it is proposed to provide a new Garda station; if, due to inaction by his Department, he will allow and make arrangements for the local community council to paint the exterior of the building and to clean up its grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21343/05]

There are plans to provide a new Garda station at Ballyvary, Castlebar, County Mayo. The Commissioners of Public Works are currently considering how best to progress matters. Accordingly, it will be appreciated that it is not possible, at this stage, to say when the project to provide the new Garda station will commence.

The Garda occupies some 703 Garda stations throughout the country. Many of them, including Ballyvary, need to be rebuilt, updated, modernised or replaced. This is being done in a structured and systematic way. Much work has been done in recent years and more is scheduled over the next few years. In the order of €112 million will be spent between now and the end of 2007 on the overall Garda building programme. This level of investment demonstrates the high priority I and the Government afford to the programme. There has been significant recent work to improve Garda stations and build new stations around the country. With regard to the painting of the current building by the local community council, the council should contact the Office of Public Works which has responsibility for the upkeep of State properties.

Road Traffic Offences.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

239 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of fines which have been issued for speeding in 2003 and 2004; the locations of such speeding; the overall monetary value of the fines; the amount which remains uncollected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21344/05]

The Garda annual report for 2003 gives a breakdown of the number of fixed charge notices issued for speeding by Garda region, as shown in the following table:

Region

Fixed charge notices issued for speeding

Eastern region

21,836

Dublin region

62,434

Northern region

10,106

South eastern region

20,227

Southern region

32,426

Western region

10,823

Total

157,852

Statistics in respect of 2004 are currently being compiled for publication in the Garda annual report for the year and are not yet available. The Garda authorities inform me that €13,751,333.54 was paid to the Garda Síochána in respect of on the spot and fixed charge notices for 2003 and €15,261,104.43 was paid in 2004. Motor fines collected by the courts in 2003 were to the value of €8.7 million in 2003 and €8.8 million in 2004. Statistics are not compiled in such a way as to distinguish between payments made in respect of speeding and other road traffic offences detected and the Garda authorities inform me that this information could only be obtained by the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources. There are no statistics available in respect of fixed charge notices which are not paid as the options of paying or going to court are available to the person to whom the notice is issued.

Crime Levels.

Bernard Allen

Question:

240 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will supply the details of headline offences recorded and detailed for each of the districts within the Cork metropolitan area and Cork county areas in the years 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2004. [21345/05]

With regard to crime figures, the Deputy will be aware that on becoming Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I arranged for the publication of headline crime statistics on a quarterly basis in order to improve the quality of information available to the public. While caution should be exercised in interpreting levels of crime between quarters, I am pleased to note that during my term of office as Minister, the quarterly crime rate has decreased from 6.7 per 1,000 population to 6 per 1,000 over the longer period of 11 quarters for which figures are available. This trend is reflected throughout most Garda districts in the country. In interpreting these figures, account has also to be taken of the introduction of the new PULSE computer system by the Garda Síochána in 1999, which led to more complete and comprehensive recording of crimes reported than was previously the case. The Deputy will also wish to be aware that, taking into account the significant increase in our population since 1995, the headline crime rate has fallen from 29 per 1,000 population in 1995 to 25 per 1,000 population in 2004.

The following tables show the headline offences for the years 2000 to 2004 inclusive for the Garda divisions of Cork city, Cork north and Cork west by Garda district. Figures prior to 2000 are not comparable to figures provided for 2000 onwards.

Table 1

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Cobh Garda District from 2000 to 2004.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assault

20

20

24

19

55

50

50

31

30

19

Sexual offences

8

8

31

28

24

16

24

11

9

1

Arson

2

1

4

1

10

0

9

1

2

0

Drugs

17

17

11

11

13

13

11

11

13

11

Thefts

147

63

210

58

249

59

277

61

194

70

Burglary

89

41

106

24

144

33

86

11

75

30

Robbery

2

2

1

1

4

0

3

1

4

2

Fraud

10

9

7

5

10

4

32

21

13

12

Other

3

2

8

6

17

14

13

9

11

10

Total

298

163

402

153

526

189

505

157

351

155

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Table 2

Headline offences recorded and detected for Mayfield Garda district from 2000 to 2004.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

1

0

3

3

1

1

0

0

Assault

37

35

61

56

79

68

46

43

43

36

Sexual offences

12

12

23

17

34

10

21

13

17

11

Arson

34

18

43

16

27

12

46

8

33

6

Drugs

33

33

37

37

44

44

28

28

35

34

Thefts

442

172

467

234

603

251

503

213

532

221

Burglary

250

111

261

131

258

83

202

91

245

116

Robbery

28

16

27

15

41

26

34

20

54

28

Fraud

31

23

23

19

25

15

39

28

19

14

Other

4

4

6

3

18

17

13

9

7

4

Total

871

424

949

528

1,132

529

933

454

985

470

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Table 3

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Macroom Garda District from 2000 to 2004.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assault

6

6

2

2

11

10

11

10

14

14

Sexual offences

4

4

2

2

2

1

6

5

6

6

Arson

1

0

4

2

2

2

2

0

4

1

Drugs

7

7

4

4

7

7

13

13

6

6

Thefts

41

8

66

28

87

27

76

21

108

47

Burglary

57

18

94

26

75

23

47

10

45

15

Robbery

2

1

1

1

2

1

0

0

0

0

Fraud

2

0

23

17

7

6

47

46

4

2

Other

1

1

0

0

1

1

2

2

2

1

Total

121

45

196

82

194

78

204

107

189

92

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Table 4

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Gurranabrather Garda District from 2000 to 2004.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

2

2

1

1

3

3

1

0

1

1

Assault

25

20

47

27

73

57

59

40

49

35

Sexual offences

10

8

13

4

30

13

16

11

23

15

Arson

32

10

10

2

30

7

31

3

32

3

Drugs

18

18

16

16

21

21

24

23

25

25

Thefts

267

87

301

86

313

82

268

78

414

109

Burglary

214

83

230

41

235

48

150

30

186

43

Robbery

11

8

16

8

10

1

19

4

14

9

Fraud

32

29

10

8

8

5

19

14

44

40

Other

0

0

7

4

24

21

13

11

8

5

Total

611

265

651

197

747

258

600

214

796

285

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Table 5

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Anglesea Garda District from 2000 to 2004.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

2

2

1

1

11

11

0

0

0

0

Assault

64

46

77

66

179

132

111

89

113

78

Sexual Offences

13

7

13

8

35

20

36

23

44

35

Arson

21

2

26

2

40

10

29

3

38

3

Drugs

91

91

73

73

53

53

46

46

27

27

Thefts

1,072

611

1,366

767

1,987

1,082

1,962

1,102

1,847

1,138

Burglary

323

158

381

152

386

115

296

112

280

123

Robbery

61

26

87

48

51

30

86

51

54

37

Fraud

113

98

51

42

145

116

135

98

100

82

Other

6

5

12

10

34

29

20

15

23

17

Total

1,766

1,046

2,087

1,169

2,921

1,598

2,721

1,539

2,526

1,540

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Table 6

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Togher Garda District from 2000 to 2004.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

1

1

4

4

2

1

0

0

Assault

10

7

29

25

76

59

69

44

49

37

Sexual Offences

16

12

23

16

37

23

28

17

30

18

Arson

14

4

26

9

22

5

27

6

39

7

Drugs

27

27

22

22

41

40

28

28

32

32

Thefts

477

198

513

196

648

306

713

297

708

309

Burglary

300

82

429

135

306

64

297

59

315

55

Robbery

18

8

32

19

22

4

32

21

35

15

Fraud

52

47

50

38

55

44

50

34

57

46

Other

5

5

3

3

15

10

6

6

9

5

Total

919

390

1,128

464

1,226

559

1,252

513

1,274

524

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Table 7

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Fermoy Garda District from 2000 to 2004.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assault

10

10

24

21

37

28

34

27

18

17

Sexual Offences

3

3

4

1

26

21

17

7

6

3

Arson

0

0

1

0

4

1

6

0

6

5

Drugs

7

7

12

12

18

17

13

12

14

13

Thefts

127

54

170

64

223

66

209

44

170

55

Burglary

68

19

88

15

133

28

138

10

101

14

Robbery

1

1

0

0

2

0

4

0

1

0

Fraud

25

24

14

9

22

8

19

14

26

21

Other

1

1

2

2

7

5

2

0

5

4

Total

242

119

315

124

472

174

442

114

347

132

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Table 8

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Mallow Garda District from 2000 to 2004.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assault

10

10

14

10

36

31

22

16

23

16

Sexual Offences

2

2

9

3

6

3

4

3

1

1

Arson

4

2

1

0

2

0

8

3

3

0

Drugs

6

6

3

3

7

7

4

4

15

13

Thefts

154

87

147

48

205

51

275

85

187

76

Burglary

83

25

104

26

103

14

112

16

91

18

Robbery

0

0

3

2

6

1

4

1

4

0

Fraud

7

7

13

12

24

18

34

26

29

27

Other

1

1

3

3

6

6

9

5

10

6

Total

267

140

297

107

395

131

472

159

363

157

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Garda Strength.

Denis Naughten

Question:

241 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda personnel numbers in each Garda district in the Roscommon-east Galway and Sligo-Leitrim Garda divisions; the corresponding figure for the years 2002 and 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21360/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of Garda resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of each Garda district in the Roscommon-Galway east and Sligo-Leitrim divisions, as at 31 December 1997, 31 December 2002 and 21 June 2005 was as set out below.

Roscommon/Galway East.

District

31/12/97

31/12/02

21/06/05

Ballinasloe

50

55

51

Boyle

32

38

38

Castlerea

36

41

41

Roscommon

65

62

63

Tuam

48

55

56

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

242 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if additional resources will be given to the Garda Síochána to allow for special attention to be given to a parish, details supplied, in Dublin 24; if particular support will be given to deal with anti-social behaviour through high visibility community policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21361/05]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the area referred to is policed by gardaí attached to Tallaght Garda station. The personnel strength of Tallaght Garda station as at 21 June 2005 was 176, all ranks. Local Garda management report that there are currently two full time community gardaí working different hours of duty to cover areas subject to anti-social behaviour. In addition, the area is also patrolled by regular policing units, public order units, detective units, divisional traffic units and the divisional task force.

With regard to Garda resources generally, I am very pleased that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased basis, in line with An Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

The Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. In this context, the needs of the area referred to by the Deputy will be fully considered within the context of the needs of areas throughout the country. Clearly the additional resources will be targeted at the areas of greatest need, as is envisaged in the programme for Government. The programme identifies in particular areas with a significant drugs problem and a large number of public order offences, but it will be possible to address other priorities as well, such as the need to very significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. One thing I have already promised is that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. They will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing. They will have a real impact.

Crime Levels.

Denis Naughten

Question:

243 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide crime statistics for County Leitrim, by Garda district and by station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21479/05]

With regard to crime figures, the Deputy will be aware that on becoming Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I arranged for the first time in the history of the State for the publication of headline crime statistics on a quarterly basis in order to improve the quality of information available to the public. While caution should be exercised in interpreting levels of crime between quarters, I am pleased to note that during my term of office as Minister, the quarterly crime rate has decreased from 6.7 per 1,000 population to 6 per 1,000 over the longer period of 11 quarters for which figures are available. This trend is reflected throughout most Garda districts in the country. In interpreting these figures, account has also to be taken of the introduction of the new PULSE computer system by the Garda Síochána in 1999, which led to more complete and comprehensive recording of crimes reported than was previously the case. The Deputy will also wish to be aware that, taking into account the significant increase in our population since 1995, the headline crime rate has fallen from 29 per 1,000 population in 1995 to 25 per 1,000 population in 2004.

The following tables show the headline offences, for the years 2000 to 2004, inclusive, by Garda district in the Sligo-Leitrim division.

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Sligo Garda District from 2000 to 2004*.

Year

2004*

2003

2002

2001

2000

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

1

1

1

1

3

3

0

0

0

0

Assault

39

28

56

37

82

60

30

23

12

9

Sexual offences

26

11

43

34

25

14

9

4

11

11

Arson

58

1

70

12

43

2

33

7

15

0

Drugs

19

19

27

27

28

27

20

20

36

36

Thefts

563

175

665

235

577

176

426

180

428

236

Burglary

224

48

282

87

217

34

305

77

267

83

Robbery

17

9

10

6

5

4

9

4

6

4

Fraud

58

40

45

12

31

13

35

24

37

33

Other

10

4

11

5

12

11

4

3

2

2

Total

1,015

336

1,210

456

1,023

344

871

342

814

414

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Carrick-on-shannon Garda District from 2000 to 2004*.

Year

2004*

2003

2002

2001

2000

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assault

22

15

15

7

21

15

7

6

5

4

Sexual Offences

3

2

2

1

2

1

4

2

1

1

Arson

5

0

1

0

3

3

5

4

5

3

Drugs

6

6

3

3

3

3

1

1

1

1

Thefts

118

26

100

16

100

15

47

9

51

8

Burglary

57

11

73

9

46

4

50

7

56

14

Robbery

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

Fraud

12

6

9

4

7

3

13

8

5

3

Other

5

3

5

2

2

2

3

2

0

0

Total

229

69

209

43

184

46

130

39

125

35

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Manorhamilton Garda District from 2000 to 2004*.

Year

2004*

2003

2002

2001

2000

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assault

8

4

5

5

11

8

8

7

4

2

Sexual Offences

5

2

3

3

4

4

2

1

2

2

Arson

1

0

4

2

0

0

2

2

0

0

Drugs

2

2

6

6

1

1

2

2

1

1

Thefts

66

8

85

10

60

9

27

2

30

6

Burglary

19

3

22

2

23

1

16

4

28

8

Robbery

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Fraud

1

1

4

1

4

4

8

6

2

0

Other

23

2

22

13

9

8

2

1

1

1

Total

125

22

151

42

112

35

67

25

68

20

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Ballymote Garda District from 2000 to 2004*.

Year

2004*

2003

2002

2001

2000

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Rec

Det

Homicide

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assault

3

3

2

2

7

7

3

3

3

3

Sexual Offences

1

0

3

2

6

6

3

1

2

1

Arson

3

0

1

0

1

0

3

2

2

2

Drugs

0

0

1

1

3

3

0

0

0

0

Thefts

37

2

50

9

55

11

47

17

38

10

Burglary

26

4

24

2

34

4

48

12

43

13

Robbery

2

1

1

0

2

1

1

1

1

1

Fraud

3

1

4

2

14

13

3

2

11

6

Other

6

5

3

0

0

0

2

2

0

0

Total

81

16

89

18

122

45

110

40

100

36

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Registration of Title.

Michael Ring

Question:

244