Health Services Allowances

Questions (742)

Finian McGrath

Question:

742. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding placement allowances in respect of a person (details supplied). [10417/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has in the past confirmed to all health sector employers that Student Medical Scientists on placement must be paid the monthly training allowance as set out in my Department's consolidated salary scales. This allowance was approved for continued award to new beneficiaries, following the review of public sector allowances conducted in 2012. The HSE has recently reiterated in clear terms to hospitals that this allowance should be paid to all Student Medical Scientists on work placement. I have asked the HSE to seek confirmation from the hospitals concerned that the necessary amounts are being paid.

Road Traffic Legislation

Questions (743, 744)

Niall Collins

Question:

743. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to review the time limits on drug and alcohol testing; the legislation involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10131/13]

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Niall Collins

Question:

744. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to make leaving the scene of a fatal accident an indictable offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10133/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 743 and 744 together.

My Department is currently engaged with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on the drafting of a new Road Traffic Bill.  Neither the issue of time-limits within which drug and alcohol testing must take place nor the question of making leaving the scene of an accident where damage to persons or property occurs an indictable offence was included in the original General Scheme of the Bill. 

However, as I indicated to the Deputy in the Dáil on 20 February 2013, I am open to considering the option of making an offence under section 106 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 - the section addressing leaving the scene of an accident - an indictable offence in certain circumstances.  I will be seeking legal advice on the matter, in due course, including the proportionality of any such a change to how the offence will be tried in court.

The issue of time-limits for conducting drug and alcohol tests is also one to which I will give consideration in consultation with the Medical Bureau of Road Safety.  In this case there are both scientific and medical issues to be considered, as alcohol and drugs will break down in the bloodstream over time, and later testing may not be of benefit in determining levels of intoxicants at the time of actual driving. 

Tourism Industry

Questions (745)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

745. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding a project (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9562/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The matter raised is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland.  I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply.  Please contact my private office if a reply is not received within ten working days.

Rural Transport Services Provision

Questions (746)

Robert Troy

Question:

746. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will outline the future proposals for the Westmeath rural transport scheme. [9587/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

An overall budget of €9.133 million has been allocated  to the Rural Transport Programme by my Department  for 2013.  I understand that  €129,353 of the 2013 budget has been allocated to Westmeath Rural Community Transport  from January to June, 2013, with a further proposed allocation of €129,353 from July to December.

 Since becoming Minister for Public and Commuter Transport the developments I have initiated have been aimed at ensuring that into the future we have a more complete and cost effective transport service offering in rural areas that better meets the transport needs of all users. To this end national responsibility for local and rural transport services integration, including the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) was assigned to the National Transport Authority (NTA) with effect from 1st April 2012, putting such services in a broader transport context. 

I also established the National Integrated Rural Transport (NIRT) Committee in April 2012, comprising key stakeholders and chaired by the NTA, to oversee and manage a partnership approach to implementing integrated local and rural transport. There is significant  scope for achieving greater levels of transport integration and coordinated delivery across a range of Exchequer funded local and rural transport services such as school and HSE transport services.

I am very aware of the very valuable work done on the ground by the RTP Groups such as Westmeath Rural Transport in ensuring that the transport needs of their local community are being identified and delivered within available resources. However, given  resources are limited and that the Value for Money and Policy Review of the RTP, published last year, recommended organisational restructuring to achieve efficiencies and the establishment of better alignment between the 35 RTP groups and local authorities, it is necessary that the current delivery mechanisms and structures are examined and revised.

Work is underway to determine the optimal structure for the delivery of rural transport from an efficiency and service perspective.  One of the proposals being examined is that the RTPs be "aligned" with local authorities and that a number of Coordination Units be established.  Discussions are taking place with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the County and City Managers Association and the Rural Transport Network in the context of aligning the new structure with the local authority structure.  I would emphasise that no decision has been taken but I am hopeful that I will be in a position to recommend a new structure later this year which will allow for the maximising of spend on services and the reduction of administration costs.

I will be ensuring that any future structure for the rural transport programme will be based on community input, local flexibility and involving the voluntary sector.  Rural Transport by its nature is community-based and this will remain under any new structure. While I can understand and fully appreciate that this creates a level of uncertainty for RTP groups, I am hopeful that the outcome will be a better service delivered more efficiently. I will work with all involved over the coming months to make any transition as smooth as possible.

Driver Licences

Questions (747)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

747. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report on the process of establishing a new system of photo capture for driving licences which has been awarded solely to the National Driver Licence Service; if there was a competitive tendering process for his new system; his views regarding the impact of the ending of photo ID services in local business including local pharmacies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9631/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Following a Government decision, the driver licensing service has been centralised under the Road Safety Authority (RSA). With effect from 12th January 2013, the RSA is now the sole driver licensing authority for the State. The RSA has decided to operate this function under the title National Driver Licence Service.

The service will be provided through three service contracts and by the establishment of a specialist unit within the RSA. The three contracts will provide for a card production facility, 'back-office' processing services and 'front-office' customer interface. The RSA has awarded these contracts following competitive tendering processes.  

I understand that the issue of photo identification formed part of the specifications for the 'front-office' tender. I have asked the RSA to provide specific details on this aspect directly to the Deputy.  

Tourism Promotion

Questions (748)

Finian McGrath

Question:

748. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason Ireland is not keeping pace with the demand for youth travel and urgently developing this sector as there is huge potential for tourism and jobs in view of the fact that Dublin has been voted number eight city in the youth travellers list and number one in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9636/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The development and promotion of particular tourism niches and markets are operational matters for the tourism agencies.  However, with regard to the matter raised by the Deputy, I am advised that approximately two out of every five visitors to Ireland are under 35 years of age, clearly demonstrating the importance of younger visitors for Irish tourism and justifying the tourism agencies' active pursuit of the youth segment.  The strong promotion of Ireland as a destination for school group visits, study tours for third level colleges and learning English as a foreign language also appeals to the younger traveller.

Market research indicates that these younger visitors are looking for active, stimulating holidays with plenty to see and do by day and by night.  Such visitors also tend to be web users and share their experiences via social media.  Accordingly, Fáilte Ireland is tailoring and packaging tourism products and experiences to meet their needs, focusing particularly on digital channels to reach this segment and is in the process of developing a "Product Development and Communications Plan" to increase its reach further.  In terms of overseas promotions, Tourism Ireland is specifically targeting younger holidaymakers in our key markets through a range of promotional activity, with social media playing an important role, as well as publicity on and offline, video on demand, cinema, top news and travel websites and online radio.

Taxi Regulations

Questions (749)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

749. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath is entitled to transfer their vehicle and taxi plate to their child; if he will outline the areas of regulation that deal with vehicle and licence transfer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9851/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The regulation of the taxi industry, including issues pertaining to the transfer of small public service vehicle (SPSV)  licences, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009.

 Since January 2009 SPSV licences, including vehicle licences for taxis, wheelchair accessible taxis, hackneys, wheelchair accessible hackneys and limousines, have been issued on the basis that they are non-transferrable. Licences issued prior to that date can be transferred only once. 

The Taxi Regulation Bill 2012 provides for a prohibition on the transfer of all SPSV vehicle licences, in line with Action 14 of the Taxi Regulation Review Report 2011. The underlying principle for the prohibition on transfer is that a licence should determine a person’s suitability to carry out a function and it should not have monetary value or be traded on the open market.

I am considering separately the matter of the death of an SPSV licence holder, for example where there is a requirement for continuity of a family business, and I intend addressing this matter in the current leglisation. With regard to the specific subject of the Deputy's question, I have referred the matter to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if a response is not received within 10 working days. 

Road Safety

Questions (750)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

750. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider proposals in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality to ensure a watchdog type role for the Road Safety Authority to ensure that all drivers who are involved in a serious or fatal collision are tested for alcohol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9859/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Current legislation is clear in relation to the testing of drivers for the presence of alcohol. No legislative provision has been made for Garda discretion. The Road Traffic Acts provide for the mandatory preliminary breath testing of drivers by the Gardaí in certain circumstances, including collisions where death or injury has occurred. The Acts also provide for the testing of drivers in hospital in circumstances where it is not possible to carry out a roadside test.  Enforcement of the legislation is primarily a matter for the Garda Síochána under the direction of the Garda Commissioner.

Rail Services

Questions (751)

Seán Kenny

Question:

751. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will contact the CEO of Iarnród Éireann regarding the immediate steps being taken to improve the audible announcements on Dart and commuter rail services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10001/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann.  I have referred the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Driver Licences

Questions (752)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

752. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the maximum size or weight of a trailer that may be towed on a work vehicle or land tractor by the holder of a category W driving licence who has no other category of licence; if there are restrictions that apply to holders of such licences based on their age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10042/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Regulations regarding new vehicle categories for driver licensing purposes which came into effect on 19 January 2013 are set out in the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers)(Amendment)(No.2) Regulations of 2011 (S.I. No. 483 of 2011).  These represent the transposition into Irish law of EU legislation, specifically parts of Directive 2006/126/EC.

 Category W is defined as 'work vehicles and land tractors'.  The Regulations also state that a combination of vehicles consisting of a drawing vehicle in category W shall be considered to be a vehicle in category W.  There is no reference to a weight limit.  Provided the trailer or drawn component is itself legal, there is therefore no limit set to the weight of such trailer or drawn component which may be drawn by a vehicle in category W. There is a minimum age of 16 for a person to hold a learner permit or licence in category W.  This is the only age restriction regarding category W.

Road Network

Questions (753)

Jim Daly

Question:

753. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will request from each of the local authorities the percentage of the annual roads maintenance budget that is spent on payroll; if he will confirm the best practice target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10118/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads, in its area, is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993.  Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

My Department’s role is the provision of grants with guidelines for their application.  Among the guidelines provided to local authorities is a Memorandum on Grants for Regional and Local roads.  This memorandum outlines the allowable road worker labour costs which may be charged against the State Road Grants, namely basic pay, overtime, employers' P.R.S.I. contributions and acting up allowance.  An overhead charge of 38.5% is also allowed as a percentage add-on to the basic pay element of relevant road workers/non-officer grades only.  This standard overhead percentage includes for superannuation, holiday pay, sick pay and all allowances. 

Local Improvement Scheme

Questions (754, 755)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

754. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport regarding his recent announcement that local authorities could re-establish the LIS scheme, if he will consider establishing revised guidelines in view of the fact that there will be a wide variance from one local authority to another. [10142/13]

View answer

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

755. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider providing a specific fund for LIS schemes rather than asking local authorities to provide for this scheme from their existing roads budget, the 2013 scheme announcement came without specific funding and in turn some local authorities did not proceed in many cases. [10143/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 754 and 755 together.

The Local Improvements Scheme provides funding for the maintenance and improvement of private roadways which are, in the first instance, a matter for the relevant landowner.   State grants available to supplement expenditure by local authorities on the maintenance of regional and local roads have been reduced significantly and there will be further cuts over the next few years.  The scale of the cuts have necessitated that some grant programmes be curtailed or ended.  In making adjustments to the regional and local roads allocations the primary aim has been, as far as is possible, to protect previous investment in the road network and use the available funding to maintain and restore public roads, including those in rural areas. 

Nothwithstanding the above, the Local Improvement Scheme has been reinstated for 2013. However there is no separate allocation available towards this grant category.  Instead local authorities may use up to 7% of their Discretionary Grant towards local improvement schemes should they wish to do so.  The local contribution for these schemes has been increased to a minimum of 20% of the total cost of the project.  Apart from this amendment the same eligibility rules apply for these schemes as heretofore.  If the Deputy has any particular suggestions with regard to guidelines, I would be happy to hear them.

Departmental Agencies Staff Remuneration

Questions (756, 757)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

756. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide details of the payment of bonuses or other performance related payments and or allowances made to the staff of agencies under the aegis of his Department with a yearly breakdown from 2008 outlining the overall amount paid in each year period and the number of staff that received such payments and or allowances. [10173/13]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

757. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide details of payments made to the CEO or equivalent of all agencies under the aegis of his Department including details of any bonuses, pension entitlements or any other remuneration paid to him or her in 2012. [10190/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 756 and 757 together.

The detailed information requested by the Deputy regarding CEO remuneration is available in the annual report and accounts of each agency. I can confirm, however, that in the light of stated Government policy no bonuses were paid to the CEOs of the agencies under the remit of my Department in respect of 2012.

The remuneration of staff other than the CEO is a matter for the agencies themselves. I have referred the Deputy's question to the agencies for direct reply on this and also on CEO remuneration for 2012 as the annual reports for that year have yet to be published. If you do not receive a reply within ten working days please contact my private office.

Public Transport Provision

Questions (758)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

758. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons that used each Dublin Bus Night-Link route for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10209/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Dublin Bus and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Projects Contracts

Questions (759)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

759. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the motorway service area tranche 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10210/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the roads programme. The implementation of individual national road projects, including the provision of service areas, is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act, 1993 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  More specifically, Section 54 of the Roads Act 1993 provides for the NRA to develop service areas on the national road network.

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.

Parking Provision

Questions (760)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

760. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to implement park and ride facilities in the Howth, County Dublin and Dublin 13 areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10214/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) in December 2009, the implementation and development of integrated and accessible public transport infrastructure  as well as the  promotion of cycling and walking as a means of transport in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA),  comes under the remit of the NTA.  Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Driver Licence Applications

Questions (761)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

761. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on correspondence regarding the delay in issuing driving licences (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10258/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The substance of this question, namely the operation of the driver licensing system, is a matter for the Road Safety Authority.  I have therefore referred the Deputy's question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Public Transport Provision

Questions (762)

James Bannon

Question:

762. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will request Bus Éireann to reinstate the discontinued bus service at Kinnegad, County Westmeath, in view of the fact that the withdrawal of service is causing inconvenience to many in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10274/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

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

Driver Licences

Questions (763)

James Bannon

Question:

763. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will put a compensation plan in place for photographers, small shops and businesses, which have suffered loss of income as a result of the awarding the driver photo ID business contract to the National Driver Licence Service, and as some of them have invested thousands of pounds in equipment, that will now be useless; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10275/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The centralised national driver licensing system under the Road Safety Authority (RSA) came into effect on 12 January 2013.    

 The new system involves three outsourced elements, a card production facility, a front office for engaging with the customer, and a back office to process applications.  All three are overseen by a specialist unit based in the RSA itself.   The card licence is standardised across the European Union and therefore there must be consistency in the quality and standard of information used.  The photograph on licences will be digital and will not be stuck on to the card in the way it was for the old paper licence.  The capture of the photograph is included in the fee for the licence.  As the system develops, the SAFE2 ID standard will be implemented, at which point the only option will be the digital photo taken at the Front Office Network.

 At present, and until September of this year, driver licence applications, including the non-ditigal photographs, will continue to be processed by Motor Tax Offices. Thereafter the new standardised digital photographic requirements will come into effect. The system that comes into place at that stage will be of significant benefit to consumers, as the processing will take place at the new front office centres will have longer open hours than under the current arrangments and will also be open on Saturdays. Furthermore, consumers will only be required to make one journey to get their license and won't be required to make a seperate journey to have a photograph taken, and one fee will cover the license and this will include the photography costs.

 I have no plans to provide compensation for such individuals as proposed by the Deputy. It should be noted that they can still use their equipment for photographs for other forms of identification.