Business of Joint Committee

The minutes of the meeting of 29 April have been circulated. Are they agreed? Agreed.

The next item is correspondence. We received a letter dated 4 May from Mr. Richard Fearn, chief executive of Iarnród Éireann, thanking the Chairman for the hospitality shown to him over lunch on Thursday, 29 April 2010, following the meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. I propose that we note this letter. Is that agreed?

I am of the view that Mr. Fearn's letter is too upbeat, particularly in the context of what I thought should have been tackled at the meeting in question.

There was a very strong aggressive inquisition from members of the committee on behalf of those present and those absent. That was continued over lunch in a very detailed manner and he said he would respond to our requests as best as he could.

A letter dated 4 May 2010 from my colleague, Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, encloses the response of the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, to members' questions at a meeting of the committee on 15 May 2008, re cross-Border on-line ticket purchasing. A copy of the Minister's reply to Deputy Ó Caoláin's parliamentary question of the 20 ult. also encloses a copy of a response received from the Minister for Regional Development in the Northern Assembly, Mr. Conor Murphy, MP, MLA.

I undertook to furnish the information arising from matters at the last meeting. I hope members will recognise that we seemed not to be able to progress a matter we had highlighted some considerable time previously. It concerned the fact that in Dublin or Belfast, one cannot purchase on-line a ticket that will bring one from the one destination to the other. One can buy on-line bus tickets from Dublin to Warsaw, and likewise in Belfast, but one cannot buy bus tickets on-line from either city to the other on this island. This is crazy and requires address by the respective public transport companies, Bus Éireann and Ulsterbus to resolve the issue. The responses from the Minister are not satisfactory. I had hoped, as agreed at the last meeting, the committee might raise the matter further with the Minister or take any other appropriate action because these are the type of not so small — though small perhaps on the large scale of things we all seek to address — and very annoying failures to knit together a more workable arrangement in public transport across this island.

I received the Deputy's correspondence and read it in great detail. I spoke to the Minister and asked my team to process same and prepare some draft documentation based on the information contained therein and the conflicting information we received, orally and in writing. I hope to take the matter up again with the Minister, Iarnród Éireann, CIE, Bus Éireann and others and will come back to the Deputy.

I have a letter dated 10 May 2010 from the Ballybeen Women's Centre, thanking the Chairman for taking the time to meet its members and inviting him to the centre at some time soon. I propose we note this letter. They obviously had a very enjoyable day here and we were delighted to host them. E-mails dated 6 May 2010, were received from the Institute for British-Irish Studies, inviting the committee to its annual conference on Thursday, 20 May 2010 at the John Hume Institute of Global Irish Studies, UCD. An e-mail dated 6 May 2010, from Mr. David Brown, Translink commercial and services director, thanks the Chairman for kind hospitality at the ninth committee meeting on 27 April. I propose we note these. Agreed? Agreed.