Road Safety Strategy

Questions (783)

Alan Farrell

Question:

783. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide details of when the next road safety strategy will be published; the measures he intends to include; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8649/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Road Safety Authority is 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.  

The new Strategy will adopt a safe system approach by reinforcing the concept of shared responsibility across organisations, businesses and communities.  The Strategy will outline a number of Actions to be taken in furthering the cause of road safety and will assign responsibility for implementation of these Actions to the most appropriate State bodies.  The detail of the Actions will be finalised shortly. In general, the new Strategy, while not deflecting attention from road fatalities, will concentrate to a greater extent on serious injuries caused by road collisions.

I intend seeking the approval of Government for the new Strategy in the coming weeks with a view to launching it at a road safety conference to be held during Ireland's Presidency of the EU at the end of March 2013.  

Tourism Promotion

Question No. 785 answered with Question No. 782.

Questions (784)

Alan Farrell

Question:

784. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will outline details of the promotion of Ireland, at home and abroad, during the period of the St. Patrick's Day Festival; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8650/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for the promotion of Ireland abroad generally is a matter for my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, while responsibility for the promotion of Ireland as a tourist destination is a matter for the tourism agencies.

With regard to the promotion of Ireland as a tourist destination overseas, I am advised by Tourism Ireland of recently announced details of their fourth "Global Greening" initiative which sees iconic buildings and sites across the world "go green" to mark St. Patrick's day. The initiative captures public and media attention across the world generating positive publicity for Ireland and helping create a supportive backdrop against which Tourism Ireland can roll out its targeted marketing programmes. Amongst the landmarks going green this year are the pyramids of Giza, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio De Janeiro, the Sydney Opera House and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. More details can be found on Tourism Ireland's website.  In addition, all opportunities to promote Ireland as a tourist destination will be availed of during the programme of overseas Ministerial visits during the St. Patrick's Day period with a particular focus on The Gathering Ireland 2013.

With regard to the domestic market, this year's St. Patrick's festival will again aim to showcase all that is best about Ireland and deliver lasting memories for the 1.6 million people who engage with the festival annually. The theme of this year's Dublin parade is "Great Things Happen When We Get Together" and the "People's Parade" means that several thousand people from around the world will lead the parade.  

  In addition and given that 2013 is the year of The Gathering, I am, in conjunction with Minister of State Brian Hayes, encouraging a wide programme of "greening" of public buildings at home. I have also invited my Ministerial colleagues, local authorities, bus and rail companies and airports to green prominent buildings in their care and the Gathering Team are disseminating the concept through their network across the country. A number of high profile buildings have been confirmed already and, together with Minister of State Hayes, I hope to make an announcement on the subject over the coming weeks.

Question No. 785 answered with Question No. 782.

Road Safety

Questions (786)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

786. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the serious safety concerns locally regarding the N4 stretch from Castlebaldwin to Colooney, County Sligo; if he is prepared to state that this road is a priority for the National Roads Authority and his Department when funding becomes available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8655/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

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.

Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for the NRA in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act. 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.

Notwithstanding the above, as the Deputy will be aware from my discussions with him on this, this is a project which in terms both of access to Sligo and safety grounds, is of considerable importance. While there are not the resources to bring this to construction during the course of the existing capital investment plan to 2016, if and when resources become available, it is a project to which considerable priority will be attached.

Aviation Issues

Questions (787)

Arthur Spring

Question:

787. Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of passengers that travelled through Kerry Airport in each of the following years: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. [8660/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Kerry Airport, is a privately owned company, and the Deputy should address any queries regarding the airport’s performance, including regarding passenger numbers, to the airport management.

Public Transport Provision

Questions (788, 789)

Micheál Martin

Question:

788. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will address the bus service to users of the Nitelink which has been reduced to three per night (details supplied); the consequent public order issues arising from a large number of people waiting hours for a nitelink; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8681/13]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

789. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will request Dublin Bus to revert to the Trinity College / Townsend Street location for the Nitelink service from the D'Olier Street location in view of the public order issues arising at the current location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8682/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 788 and 789 together.

The provision of bus services is an operational matter for Dublin Bus in conjunction with the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's questions to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Traffic Offences

Question No. 791 answered with Question No. 766.

Question No. 792 answered with Question No. 113.

Questions (790)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

790. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he received a submission from an organisation (details supplied) dated 7 February 2013 in relation to the penalty points system and Section 63 of the 2010 Road Traffic Act; and his views on the submission. [8724/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

A submission has been received in my Department from the PARC organisation and a reply is currently being prepared.

The operation of section 22 of the Road Traffic Act 2002, as amended by section 63 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, is entirely a matter for the Courts Service and my colleague Minister Alan Shatter T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality.    

Question No. 791 answered with Question No. 766.
Question No. 792 answered with Question No. 113.

Taxi Regulations

Questions (793)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

793. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there is any inequality in the application procedures applied to persons applying for a taxi PSV licence based on whether or not they were born in this country. [8839/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The regulation of the taxi industry is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009. The skills development programme, including the area knowledge test, for the purposes of SPSV driver licensing is administered by the NTA. The NTA also administers the SPSV vehicle licensing application process with regard to SPSVs including taxis, wheelchair accessible taxis, hackneys, wheelchair accessible hackneys and limousines.

An Garda Síochána is currently the authority responsible for the licensing of drivers of Small Public Service Vehicles (SPSVs) in accordance with Regulations prescribed by the NTA. In order to maintain high standards in the industry and encourage the general public to use SPSV services, the SPSV driver licence is granted only to people who meet set criteria. All applicants for the SPSV driver licence are vetted by the Gardai to ensure that they are a fit and proper person to hold an SPSV driver licence. In order to qualify for an SPSV driver licence, a person must hold an Irish driving licence or a driving licence from another EU, EEA or other recognised State, and the person must hold a current tax clearance certificate. 

The regulatory framework is in accordance with EU internal market requirements relating to the provison of services and mutual recognition arrangements are long established in relation to driving licences. I am not aware of any conditions under the current SPSV licensing system that would give rise to inequality purely by virtue of a person's place of birth.

Civil Aviation Regulation

Questions (794)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

794. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he has discussed with Aer Lingus and or Ryanair, the future development of air passenger transport, long and short haul, with a view to maintaining a stable and vibrant industry to meet the requirements of air passengers, nationally and internationally, maximising the use of this country as an international air transport hub; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8895/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

In December last I facilitated a conference  at which I launched a review process for the development of a new national civil aviation policy for Ireland. A wide array of industry representatives including Ryanair and Aer Lingus and wider stakeholder groups were invited to debate what the policy should contain.

Following on from that conference I will shortly publish a consultation paper which has been developed taking into consideration the views expressed at the conference. Following the period of public consultation I intend to publish a draft policy statement later this year for further comment before finalising and adopting the new national policy in early 2014.

Ferry Operations

Questions (795)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

795. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he expects to see the development and expansion of sea-ferry transport from this country to various UK and or continental destinations in the future with particular reference to meeting increased demand and requirements and market development in this sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8896/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Ireland is well serviced in terms of ferry connectivity as the market offers a diverse range of viable maritime links in and out of the State. This is vital to facilitate trade and tourism. There are currently six shipping lines providing passenger services, with approximately 500 sailings weekly between Ireland and Britain and continental Europe, depending on the time of year. All ferry companies servicing these routes are commercial companies and, as such, their services are market driven. 

Competition in the sector is encouraged and I expect services to develop and expand to meet any increased market demands in the future.  In the past, ferry operators have responded to market developments and increased capacity, when required. My Department through its agency, the IMDO, works closely with all existing operators and continues to promote Ireland as a location for new services.

The Irish ferry market is also a very important element of the Irish tourism transport network. While the vast majority of our overseas visitors arrive in Ireland by air, research has shown that visitors coming to Ireland by car are very important to our tourism industry as they tend to stay longer, they tend to tour around more (with consequential benefits for regional tourism) and they tend to spend more than those arriving by air. Accordingly, the state tourism agencies have continually targeted this segment.

As the Deputy will be aware, this is a particularly important year for Irish tourism with The Gathering Ireland 2013 now underway and over 3,000 individual gatherings confirmed on the Gathering website. The overall target is to attract at least 325,000 extra overseas visits to Ireland in 2013. Tourism Ireland continues to mount a major consumer campaign to promote The Gathering to people overseas that feel linked by family, friends or otherwise with Ireland. In this regard the agency is undertaking cooperative activity with the major airlines and ferry operators to highlight the value fares that are on offer. This activity will continue through 2013.

Tourism Promotion

Questions (796, 797)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

796. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he has identified major sporting events as a means to develop and promote economic activity during the course of the current year in the context of the Gathering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8897/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

797. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he continues to examine and explore the possibility of linking up major sporting events in this country with sister events in other jurisdictions throughout Europe and globally with a view to maximising economic benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8898/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 796 and 797 together.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment that event tourism will be prioritised in order to continue to bring major events to Ireland. The hosting of major sports events can provide a great showcase for Ireland, drive international visitor numbers and the media coverage of sports tourism events helps to put Ireland onto travel itineraries as a holiday destination. 

Fáilte Ireland continues to support the sports tourism sector and in 2012 the Volvo Ocean Race returned to Ireland with its finale in Galway, Dún Laoghaire hosted the ISAF Youth World Sailing Championship, the Tall Ships and the Bavaria Motor Racing Exhibition event took place in Dublin as well as the Navy-Notre Dame American Football game in the Aviva Stadium.  Tourism Ireland also rolled out a busy programme of promotional activity to target a wide range of potential visitors in the run-up to and during the Olympic Games. 

I am supportive of the ongoing efforts of the State Tourism Agencies and the National Governing Bodies of Sport to attract international events, subject, of course, to an assessment of the costs/benefits involved in any State financial support. On the sporting side, athletes from over thirty countries travelled to Ireland in 2012, for training or participation in Olympic/Paralympic related events before the London Games. I am aware of a number of sporting events taking place around the country during the year of The Gathering Ireland 2013,details of which are included on the Gathering website.

Sport and Recreational Development

Questions (798)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

798. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he continues to engage with sporting and recreational organisations throughout the country with a view to the identification of their future proposals for development with particular reference to the need to plan for future events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8899/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Both myself and Minister of State Ring have ongoing dialogue with the key sport stakeholders on the strategic issues and challenges facing the sector and on the sport policy priorities and actions required for the future development of sport.

Tourism Promotion

Questions Nos. 801 and 802 answered with Question No. 106.

Question No. 803 answered with Question No. 799.

Questions (799, 800, 803)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

799. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he continues to have discussions on a regular basis with the various stakeholders in the tourism sector with particular reference to the need to identify problems and or opportunities for the industry in advance with a view to enhanced development in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8900/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

800. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he has compared costs for the tourism sector here with those applicable in other jurisdictions through Europe and worldwide; the extent to which he sees opportunities for development of the Irish tourism sector by addressing such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8901/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

803. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he and his Department have regular interaction with stakeholders in the tourism sector with a view to identification of issues of concern; the extent to which he expects to be in a position to respond to any such issues such as credit availability or transport costs throughout the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8904/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 799, 800 and 803 together.

Both I and the Department are in regular contact with the stakeholders in the tourism sector and kept advised of issues of concern to the industry.

The Government's plans to improve overall competitiveness are set out in the Programme for Government.  I have also outlined my priorities to 2016 for the transport, tourism and sports sectors on my Department's website.

With specific regard to the tourism sector, the Government has already delivered on several measures under the Jobs Initiative to reduce costs and enhance competitiveness, such as reducing VAT to 9% on a range of tourism services and halving employers’ PRSI for those on modest wages.  Following on from the Jobs Initiative, the 2012 Action Plan for Jobs set out key policy actions to ensure tourism’s continued contribution to economic recovery.  The Finance Bill which was published recently contains further measures to assist the industry including

- The diesel fuel rebate for hauliers, bus and coach operators;

- Extending the Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme to encourage investment in tourism accommodation;

- Confirmation of the eligibility of tourism accommodation to participate in Real Estate Investment Trusts;

- Smaller tourism businesses will benefit from the higher VAT threshold of €1.25 million.

In line with the Programme for Government and the Action Plan for Jobs, the Government will continue to play its part in reducing business costs, increasing credit availability and enhancing overall competitiveness.

Questions Nos. 801 and 802 answered with Question No. 106.
Question No. 803 answered with Question No. 799.

Ports Development

Questions (804)

John Deasy

Question:

804. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects to publish the review of national ports policy; and if the process is still open to submissions. [8971/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department has now carried out a major review of ports policy. The new policy is designed to provide a coherent framework for all state owned ports and allow for their future development in a manner that suits their individual circumstances.

The policy will be considered by the Government in March and it will be published following Government approval as soon as possible after that.

Consequently, the period for submissions is now closed.

Tourism Capital Investment Programme

Questions (805)

John Deasy

Question:

805. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the tourism-specific funding programmes that are likely to be available under the new EU multi-annual financial framework, 2014-2020. [8973/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility in relation to the European Union's overall Multi-Annual Financial Framework for the period 2014 to 2020 is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance in the first instance.  On the 7/8th February, political agreement was reached on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework for 2014 to 2020. This is the first step in terms of overall agreement which will now require the consent of the European Parliament. The political agreement on the budget includes overall expenditure ceilings for  various overarching subheads. The agreed Framework does not give a detailed breakdown of financial allocations for smaller programmes and sector specific allocations for areas such as tourism will depend on the more detailed negotiations under the various legislative acts covered by the MFF package.

In terms of our position in these discussions, obviously it is our view that tourism as a highly important sector at national and EU level should be appropriately recognised in the specific sectoral programmes. Our priority will continue to be that any future tourism measures at EU level should be clearly additional to national efforts and should have a clear impact on the tourism industry here.  It is likely that tourism can benefit from a range of different EU programmes, with rural development (which is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine) likely to be of particular benefit to tourism in Ireland.  Other possible areas which may support tourism include regional and employment measures and also a proposed programme for the competitiveness of Enterprises and SME’s (the so called COSME proposal), which may include some tourism-specific measures and for which my colleague the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is primarily responsible.  Our position is that we will look at all tourism measures under the MFF in the round and ensure that all appropriate opportunities to benefit the Irish tourism industry are availed of.