Airport Development Projects

Questions (114, 119, 145)

Joe Carey

Question:

114. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the Shannon Aviation Services Centre Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8496/13]

View answer

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

119. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the Shannon Aviation Services Centre Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8463/13]

View answer

Pat Breen

Question:

145. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the development of the new Shannon Airport Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8601/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 114, 119 and 145 together.

As Deputies will be aware, Shannon Airport was separated from the Dublin Airport Authority on 31 December last and the assets and business of the airport were transferred from the DAA to the Shannon Airport Authority.

My Department is working in conjunction with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on the Heads of the new Bill to provide for the merger of the airport with a restructured Shannon Development in a new, commercial, State-owned entity and this legislation will be advanced during the first half of this year. When the Heads of the Bill are ready, they will be referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport for their consideration prior to drafting.

Last month I appointed Rose Hynes as Chairman of the SAA. On 23 January last, prior to her appointment, Ms Hynes appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications and outlined some of the challenges and opportunities facing the company. In that context I might add that I expect her to take on the role of Chairman designate for the New Co which is in the process of being established.

A process to recruit a Chief Executive for the Shannon Airport Authority and the new Shannon entity is currently underway and I intend making further appointments to the board of the SAA shortly.

As Ms Hynes has already pointed out, the serious downward trajectory in passenger numbers at Shannon over the past five years must be halted as a priority, and then reversed. While it is clearly early days, a number of airlines have announced plans for new or expanded services which augers well for the newly independent airport. To date, none of these have been displaced from other airports which is encouraging.

In the meantime both I and my colleague, Minister Bruton, have written to the Chairmen of the SAA and Shannon Development requesting that they and their management teams work closely together over the coming months to ensure an orderly transition to the establishment of the new Shannon entity. In this regard also, Minister Bruton appointed Ms Hynes to the board of Shannon Development last week and some further common appointments will be made to the boards of the SAA and Shannon Development to maximise synergies between the two ahead of the merger.

Harbour Authorities Expenditure

Questions (115, 118, 124, 143, 160)

Joan Collins

Question:

115. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 888 of 5 February 2013, and his commitment of taking up the issue of €20,000 payment of a car allowance to the CEO of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, if he will now agree to take up this issue with the acting chairperson instead as it is unclear when a new chairperson will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8572/13]

View answer

Joe Higgins

Question:

118. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 888 of 5 February 2013, and his commitment to taking up the issue of €20,000 payment of a car allowance to the CEO of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, if he will now agree to take up the issue with the acting chairperson instead as it is unclear when a new chairperson will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8570/13]

View answer

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

124. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 888 of 5 February 2013, and his commitment of taking up the issue of €20,000 payment of a car allowance to the CEO of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, if he will now agree to take up this issue with the acting chairperson instead as it is unclear when a new chairperson will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8568/13]

View answer

John Halligan

Question:

143. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 888 of 5 February 2013, and his commitment of taking up the issue of €20,000 payment of a car allowance to the CEO of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, if he will now agree to take up this issue with the acting chairperson instead as it is unclear when a new chairperson will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8646/13]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

160. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 888 of 5 February 2013, and his commitment of taking up the issue of €20,000 payment of a car allowance to the CEO of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, if he will now agree to take up this issue with the acting chairperson instead as it is unclear when a new chairperson will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8574/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115, 118, 124, 143 and 160 together.

I informed the Deputy in response to Questions on 5 February 2013 that my Department would forward the questions to the Company for an explanation of their accounting practices for the Deputy's information. This issued to the Company on 13 February last and if the Deputy does not receive an answer within ten working days from that date he should contact my private office.

At present I am actively recruiting a Chairperson, and I hope to be in a position to do so shortly. I have undertaken previously that I would ask the new Chairperson to review certain matters relating to the CEO remuneration raised by the Deputy.  The Chairperson designate will as usual appear before the Joint Committee before being appointed.

When appointed I would like to see the new Chairperson and Board deal with these issues quickly in order that the company can focus on the immediate and long term future direction and success of the harbour company.

Rail Services

Question No. 117 answered with Question No. 112.

Question No. 118 answered with Question No. 115.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 114.

Questions (116, 141)

Seán Fleming

Question:

116. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects CIE to return to financial health; if he expects to provide any additional subvention in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8552/13]

View answer

Timmy Dooley

Question:

141. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide a progress report on CIE’s attempts to rectify its financial situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8538/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 141 together.

Along with Minister Varadkar, I meet regularly with the Chairpersons of CIÉ and its subsidiaries in relation to the current and future financial situation of the group. My Department, supported by NewEra, have also engaged extensively with CIÉ on its financial and business planning.

In addition to the supplementary PSO funding of €36 million allocated by Government in 2012, further financing was required in 2012 in order to fund the voluntary severance schemes, particularly in Irish Rail, and to ensure adequate funding into 2013. Progress was made at the end of 2012 on the sale of non-core assets, in particular the sale of Spencer Dock properties. The resolution of CIE's financial position will involve increased borrowing facilities for non-capital purposes. Discussions are continuing to secure additional banking facilities to ensure adequate funding into 2013.

Any such funding will rely upon the delivery and implementation of a convincing business plan. CIE has undertaken an aggressive business planning process with the aim of returning to a break-even position and achieving a sustainable debt position in subsequent years. While the Group is expected to make a loss this year, it aims to achieve breakeven by mid-2014. Given the pressure on the public finances, there is no possibility of additional funding by the Exchequer in 2013. The implementation of a credible business plan will therefore be essential to CIE’s financial recovery in the period ahead.

Question No. 117 answered with Question No. 112.
Question No. 118 answered with Question No. 115.
Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 114.

Tourism Industry

Questions (120, 142, 146)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

120. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of the fact that the last tourism policy document, New Horizons, was published ten years ago, if he will develop a new policy; if so, if he will provide details of the way he intends to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8377/13]

View answer

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

142. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of the fact that it is ten years since the publication of the last tourism policy document, New Horizons, if he will develop a new policy; if so, if he will provide details of the way he intends to do so; if in his new policy he will treat Cork as a separate and distinct region in view of its size as Ireland's largest county and that it is home to one ninth of the total number of people living in the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8376/13]

View answer

Joe McHugh

Question:

146. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of the fact that it is ten years since the publication of the last tourism policy document, New Horizons, if he will develop a new policy; if so, if he will provide details of the way he intends to do so; if he will refer specifically to new policy objectives for the British market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8383/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120, 142 and 146 together.

These questions relate to the development of a new tourism policy.

I am conscious that it is a decade since the publication of the "New Horizons" tourism strategy and over three years since the last review of strategy by the Tourism Renewal Group. Therefore, I confirmed my intention to begin work on a tourism policy review when I published my Departmental Priorities for 2013.

I have asked my officials to examine various approaches to such a review, including the implications for timing and resources required.  At this early stage, no final decisions have been made regarding how such a review will be carried out and its final format, and I am interested in any thoughts the Deputies may have on this.  However, I am considering a multistage process, in which I would first outline my overall approach in a draft statement later this year, followed by a consultation process, before finalising the policy. I believe that the Oireachtas Joint Committee that covers tourism could have an important role in the consultation process. Once this policy has been set, it would provide a robust foundation for a broader tourism strategy and action plan reflecting these policy priorities and the views of key stakeholders and consumers. The Government’s priorities for tourism were outlined in the Programme for Government 2011.  In the context of the challenges facing both the sector and the wider economy, rather than pursue separate strategies for the tourism sector, the Government integrated tourism into the broader economic strategic framework.  This overall s approach, complemented by the work of the tourism agencies, has worked well to date.

Key Programme for Government commitments were reflected in the Government’s subsequent Jobs Initiative, with immediate priority actions set out in the annual Action Plans for Jobs.  The Government has already delivered on several measures to reduce costs for tourists and for tourism businesses, therefore enhancing Ireland’s competitiveness, and last week’s Finance Bill provides a further stimulus for the tourism sector.

It is too early to comment on any specific treatment, in the policy review, of particular markets such as Great Britain or of specific destinations such as Cork.  In addition, it is important to distinguish what are essentially operational matters, such as the approach to the development of specific destinations or markets, from the higher-level policy priorities.  Since specific marketing strategies for Britain are an operational matter for Tourism Ireland Limited, I have referred this aspect of Deputy McHugh's question to Tourism Ireland for additional material.  Since the development of individual regions is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland, I have referred this aspect of Deputy Buttimer's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply.  In each case, please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Tourism Promotion

Questions (121, 164, 188)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

121. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to tackle the decline in visitor numbers to here from the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8461/13]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

164. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the action he will take to reverse the decline in visitor numbers from Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8545/13]

View answer

Willie O'Dea

Question:

188. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he expects visitors from Britian to return in greater numbers in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8562/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 121, 164 and 188 together.

They relate to visitor numbers from the UK.

According to the recently published CSO figures, there were just over 6.5 million overseas visits to Ireland last year representing an increase of 0.2% on 2011 levels. While the number of visits from the higher spending Mainland Europe, North America and long haul Markets all registered growth, the number of overseas visits from Britain were down by 3.6%. While the rate of decline in visit numbers from Britain continued to slow towards the end of 2012, it is clear that the slow pace of economic recovery there and weak consumer confidence continues to impact on our visit numbers.

In terms of arresting this decline, I welcomed the report of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce (TRT), entitled "GB Path to Growth", and its recommendations for restoring growth in visitors from Britain which has been reflected in the 2013 plans of the tourism agencies. A copy of the "GB Path to Growth" strategy can be downloaded from the websites of both Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.  As part of the strategy, Tourism Ireland is refining its approach to targeting potential visitors that are receptive to the type of experience that Ireland can offer, and is conducting an extensive promotional programme this year in Britain to help ensure that we return to growth in visit numbers.

Of course, the major focus of Tourism Ireland's promotions in Britain and other markets this year is on "The Gathering Ireland 2013". An estimated 6 million people throughout Britain claim Irish descent or affiliations to Ireland and these are being targeted through TV, print and online advertising as well as cooperative marketing activities with air and ferry operators featuring the good value fares that are on offer.

Homeless Persons Supports

Questions (122, 175)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

122. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Sport if he will give an undertaking that the Irish Homeless World Cup soccer team will receive funding for 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8610/13]

View answer

Martin Ferris

Question:

175. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to ensure that the Big Issue street leagues receive adequate funding to ensure their survival; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8609/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 175 together.

The street leagues do very valuable work with the homeless, drug and alcohol dependant individuals in rehabilitation, ex-offenders, people who are long-term unemployed with identified learning disabilities, refugees and asylum seekers.  Programmes such as the street leagues can have a very positive impact for participants and can assist in leading to positive life changes. The street leagues present a wonderful opportunity for participants to become involved in sport and the possibility of representing Ireland at the Homeless World Cup. I firmly believe that sport can play a very important role in Irish society and the homeless leagues are a very good example of this.

The Irish Sports Council, which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body with responsibility for the allocation of current expenditure funding for sports organisations. The Council channels funding through the National Governing Bodies of Sport. In the case of soccer, funding is provided to the FAI.

I am informed by the Irish Sports Council that the homeless street leagues are affiliated to the FAI and that the FAI has been providing financial and other support for the leagues through its Football for All programme since 2006.  The street leagues have been an important programme for the FAI in light of the good work they do on social inclusion in a number of cities and towns around Ireland.

I am also informed that the FAI has confirmed that it will provide funding to the Street Leagues again in 2013 but that final figures are not yet agreed.

Aviation Industry Regulations

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 115.

Questions (123)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

123. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has met with representatives of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association regarding their concerns for flight time regulations being proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency; and, if so, the work he is doing on the issue of promoting evidence based regulations which ensure the best safety standards for pilots and passengers. [8580/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

In conjunction with representatives from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) my officials have met with members of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) regarding the the draft Opinion published by the European Aviation Safety Agency proposing new Flight Time Limitations (FTL) rules on a number of occasions over the past number of months.  I would like to point out that the IAA is designated under national law as the competent authority in the State for the purposes of the EU European Aviation Safety Agency Regulations.

The proposed FTL rules have been prepared by the European Aviation Safety Agency over a period of 3 years with unprecedented scientific input and public consultation. More than 50 scientific studies were analysed and a huge number of stakeholder groups including flight and cabin crew organisations, airlines, and Member State representatives were consulted by the Agency during the drafting process.  Clearly IALPA had the opportunity during this 3 year consultation period to input their views.The proposed rules contain more than 30 safety improvements compared to current requirements.  While there are elements of the proposed rules that have not been universally well received, the general view among Member States is that the proposal, when viewed as a complete package, represents an improvement on the existing European rules in this area.  The IAA, who represent Ireland's interests in the relevant EU experts committee, also share this view and have explained their position on this issue to IALPA and also to the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 115.

Road Projects Contracts

Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 111.

Questions (125)

Mick Wallace

Question:

125. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if those who were served with notice to treat prior to the announcement of budget 2012 are still eligible to receive the €5,000 per acre goodwill gesture which was available when negotiations commenced; the number of landowners affected by the Enniscorthy bypass, County Wexford, currently in negotiation over compensation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8371/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

This Question is about the goodwill payment of €5,000 per acre which was part of an Agreement concluded with the IFA relating to land acquisition. As the implementation of individual road schemes and the arrangements in relation to individual landowners is a matter for the NRA and the local authority concerned, I have referred the question to the NRA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 111.

Public Procurement Contracts Expenditure

Questions (127, 150, 172)

Clare Daly

Question:

127. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report on the monies paid to date to public private partnerships and toll operators on the Limerick Tunnel and M3 Motorway due to an underestimate of traffic flow; and the expected payments during the next five years. [8381/13]

View answer

Brian Stanley

Question:

150. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount the State paid in subsidies to toll operators due to low traffic numbers in 2012; the projected cost of these subsidies for 2013; and the work he has done to renegotiate these subsidies. [8579/13]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

172. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report on the moneys already paid for the acquisition of the West Link Toll Bridge by the State and monies due to be paid annually to 2020. [8380/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127, 150 and 172 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. In addition, the statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into toll agreements with private investors in respect of national roads is vested in the NRA under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended by the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Roads Act 2007). Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

Rail Network

Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 113.

Questions (128, 153)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

128. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way he hopes to ensure a viable rail network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8563/13]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

153. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his assessment of Iarnrod Éireann’s prospects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8549/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 153 together.

I refer the Deputies to my reply to Priority Question No. 4 which I answered earlier.

Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 113.

Tourism Promotion

Questions (130)

Seán Kyne

Question:

130. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has plans to intensify the use of the railways in promoting tourism such as rail tours which are an exemplary way of attracting tourists and visitors Dublin to the regions outside of Dublin. [8378/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Iarnród Éireann, in conjunction with Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.  I have forwarded the Deputy's question to them for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive replies within ten working days.

Public Transport Provision

Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 106.

Questions (131)

Mick Wallace

Question:

131. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason public bus and rail services do not operate in conjunction with the scheduled timetables of passenger ferries at Rosslare Harbour Europort, County Wexford, resulting in substantial delays for tourists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8372/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The scheduling and timetabling of public transport services is an operational matter for Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann in conjunction with the National Transport Authority and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the companies and the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive replies within ten working days.

Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 106.

Road Traffic Accidents Data

Questions (133)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

133. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide a county by county breakdown of road fatalities in 2012; if he will provide comparable figures for each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8374/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006) the Road Safety Authority has responsibility for the compilation of road fatality statistics. Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the Road Safety Authority for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Network

Questions (134, 178)

Robert Troy

Question:

134. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the situation with regard to the provision of service stations on the M6 between Athlone and Moate, County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8532/13]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

178. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if it is intended to provide a motorway service area on the M6 between Athlone and Moate, County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8533/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 178 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Responsibility for the provision and maintenance of national roads is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

The NRA have very specific responsibility under section 54 of the above Act for the provision of motorway service areas. Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Safety Strategy

Questions (135, 166)

Niall Collins

Question:

135. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the new Road Safety Strategy will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8542/13]

View answer

John Browne

Question:

166. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for a new Road Safety Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8558/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 166 together.

The Road Safety Authority is currently in the process of finalising the next Road Safety Strategy, which will cover an 8 year period from 2013 to 2020.  The aim of the Strategy, like all previous, will be to save lives and prevent injuries by reducing the number and severity of collisions on our roads.

Subject to Government approval, I hope to be in a position to publish the Strategy in the coming weeks with a view to formally launching it at a road safety conference to be held during Ireland's Presidency of the EU at the end of March 2013.

Marine Safety

Questions (136, 151)

Noel Harrington

Question:

136. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his efforts to improve safety at sea; the consultations he has had with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8395/13]

View answer

Joe McHugh

Question:

151. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his efforts to improve safety at sea; the consultations that he has had with the Department of Agriculture and Marine in this area; the consultations he has had with his Ministerial counterparts in Stormont and at Westminster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8382/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 151 together.

I am committed to the ongoing planning and delivery of an integrated package of maritime safety measures that will enhance safety and promote a culture of high safety standards within all sectors of the maritime community. Our Safety at Sea agenda is constantly being developed in line with developments across the maritime sector in terms of internationally recognised safety Conventions, safety standards, Codes of Practice, and the promotion of a culture of safety among those who go to sea for leisure or to earn their living. The importance of ensuring the provision of search and rescue response capability is also vital.

Most recently, I have been working with my colleague Simon Coveney TD Minister for Agriculture and the Marine on the development of measures aimed at improving safety at sea for the fishing industry. Our Departments are working together with the relevant Agencies to bring forward proposals for an Enhanced Safety Equipment and Training Scheme for Fishermen. Options on grant-aid of safety equipment,  such as Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons, Personal Locator Beacons, are being assessed. Stronger enforcement of safety regulations and more comprehensive safety training requirements in this scheme will deliver a significant positive change in relation to  safety in the fishing sector.

However maritime safety concerns are not just confined to the fishing industry. My Department seeks to promote safety on an on-going basis right across the maritime sector. There is a lot of good work going on in this area across Government and also from non-governmental organisations. As part of my consideration on how to enhance Ireland's maritime safety services in general, I am reviewing the need for a Governmental strategy on maritime safety and how such a strategy could be progressed in an integrated way for the  sector.

In such a strategy, consideration has to be given to the crucial role of regulation, particularly in relation to vessel inspection and certification, the certification and training of seafarers and the implications of national and international safety standards as they develop over time. These issues have just as critical a role to play in the prevention of accidents and the saving of lives at sea as do campaigns on lifesaving equipment and training.

On the issue of working with my Ministerial counterparts in Stormont and Westminster, there is of course co-operation on maritime safety matters between Ministers as such matters arise in North /South and Ireland /UK  Ministerial contexts.