Hospitals Building Programme

Questions (746)

Denis Naughten

Question:

746. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the current projected cost of the development of the new endoscopic suite at Roscommon County Hospital; the estimated timetable for completion of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5685/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Delivery of healthcare facilities is a service matter. Therefore your question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Ambulance Service Provision

Questions (747)

Tom Fleming

Question:

747. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that the ambulance cover in County Kerry and north Cork will be strengthened and enhanced; in view of the resources and personnel, if he will ensure a high quality service in the interest of health and safety; if he will re-instate the local control centre for calls to work in conjunction with the national control centre to ensure accurate directions are provided to ambulance crews in these peripheral areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5692/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Control Centre Reconfiguration Project is reducing the number of control centres to one national centre, over two sites, with significant investment in new voice, data and mapping technologies. This will allow the HSE National Ambulance Service to deploy emergency resources more effectively and efficiently, on a regional and national basis, rather than within small geographic areas. The National Centre will be located in Tallaght and Ballyshannon. Funding of €3.6m and 43 additional staff has been provided for the project in the National Service Plan 2014; the project is expected to be completed next year.

The HSE's reconfiguration of ambulance control is consistent with international best practice and endorsed by HIQA as the most appropriate approach to improve the quality of services to patients. This project is also a key element of Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Health Reform in Ireland 2012-2015.

In relation to the particular queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Driver Licences

Questions (748)

Derek Keating

Question:

748. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason for the delay in the new National Driving Licence Service centres; if he is satisfied that the City West office is capable of dealing with the volumes; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is currently up to eight to 12 weeks of a waiting list while some drivers have been warned by the Garda in relation to the fact that they do not have a current up-to-date licence which they are obliged to have by law; the provision he made to deal with this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5094/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The National Driver Licensing Service (NDLS) is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority (RSA). 

I met with the acting CEO of the RSA in recent weeks to discuss the difficulties some people have experienced, and how the RSA proposed to address them. The RSA acknowledged that there were teething problems when the service opened for business on 29 October 2013.  Some were technical and systems issues, while others related to new staff becoming familiar with rules and processes around driving licences and permits.

The RSA has responded by increasing resources in NDLS centres experiencing delays, as well as in the licence processing centre, and providing further training to staff.  There are no major technical difficulties now affecting the service.  A booking system to allow for customers to make appointments has been operating in a Pilot Phase which was successful.  This system will now be provided in all NDLS offices.

While I understand that there are still some backlogs in relation to applications, the situation has improved.  I have been informed that licence applications that are fully and correctly completed are being issued within 8 days. The RSA has assured me that the remaining backlog will be cleared by mid-February.  The NDLS can also respond to urgent situations where a licence is needed for travel abroad or for work purposes.

The requirement to return the old licence when applying for a new one may raise concerns regarding the legal requirement to produce a licence when requested by a member of An Garda Síochána.  If the person cannot produce the licence at the time, the law allows ten days in which to produce it at a Garda station.  In most cases, if a licence is in process, this is sufficient time for the new licence to arrive.  Where it is not, the Gardaí may choose to exercise discretion.  I understand that the NDLS has advised the Gardaí of the delays with issuing some licences.

Motor Tax Collection

Questions (749)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

749. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to revise the current road tax regime for commercial vehicles in favour of introducing a pay-as-you-go road user charge in view of the fact that such a charge will be introduced in the UK and Northern Ireland as of 1 April 2014; his views on whether this £10 charge by the UK authorities will have an adverse impact on the significant volume of cross-Border freight, which is mobilised on a daily basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5181/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The development of a road charging scheme for HGVs is one of my priorities for 2014. I have established a cross-Departmental working group, in conjunction with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, to examine the feasibility of introducing such a regime for HGVs in Ireland in the medium term.  The group began its work in January and is due to report by the middle of this year.

The introduction of a road charging scheme for HGVs raises a number of issues and would require input from a wide variety of Government departments and agencies.  The working group will need to take account of issues regarding the Exchequer impact of a road charging scheme, how it would work, the impact it would have on imports and exports, the technology involved in such a system, compliance with European legislation and how it would be enforced amongst other matters.

The new UK HGV levy will have an impact, albeit relatively small, on cross border trade costs between our two jurisdictions. However, it should be noted that 97% of goods vehicles taxed in Ireland are below 12 tonnes and will therefore be exempt from the levy. I will meet my UK counterpart later this month and will reiterate my earlier request that certain roads in Northern Ireland be excluded from the levy.

Public Transport

Questions (750)

Paudie Coffey

Question:

750. Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the budget for bus shelters and accessibility improvements has not yet been allocated by the National Transport Authority to Bus Éireann; if he will provide a date for when this capital funding will be dispensed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4941/14]

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 infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as provision of bus shelters, comes under the remit of the NTA. In addition the functions of the NTA in relation to public transport infrastructure have been extended to include securing or providing bus stops, bus shelters, bus stations, stands and bus fleets in the State with effect from 1 January 2014.

I understand that the 2014 budget allocations for Bus Eireann Bus Stops and Accessibility Projects is still under consideration by the NTA, and is scheduled to be finalised during early February. Noting the NTA's responsibility regarding the issues raised, I have referred the Deputy's question to the Authority for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (751, 752)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

751. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will itemise in tabular form the occasions on which his Department has engaged the services of external professional advice such as a company (details supplied) on the appointment of persons to State boards; if he will list the fees paid in respect of such services; the persons who were ultimately appointed on foot of advice received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4995/14]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

752. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will identify any instances where a person appointed to a State Board after recruitment advice was received from professional external consultants was subsequently deemed to be unqualified for the duties and responsibilities attached to the role; the costs incurred in obtaining advice in respect of each such instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5011/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 751 and 752 together.

My Department has not availed of any external services or professional advice in the board membership appointment process. I announced new procedures for appointment to boards in April 2011 and all subsequent appointments have followed these procedures. They include an open invitation for expressions of  interest in serving on the board of any of the agencies under the remit of my Department.  This invitation was renewed in January 2013.

In inviting applications, I have sought able candidates with experience or qualifications in finance (including audit capability and/or project assessment), law, corporate governance, marketing, IT, or  with experience relevant to the transport, tourism and sports sectors. I stated clearly that, given the importance of ensuring the right mix of skills and experience on every board, appointments would not necessarily be confined to those who had made such an expression of interest. I may also decide from time to time not to fill all existing vacancies. I have received over 500 expressions of interest to date from which over 65 have been appointed.  Details of all appointments and vacancies are published on http://dttas.ie/corporate/english/state-board-membership-and-approved-fees.

Tourism Industry

Questions (753)

Brian Walsh

Question:

753. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide details of individual projects pertaining to route signage, development of discovery points and infrastructural improvements to benefit from capital investment allocated for the Wild Atlantic Way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5086/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I have no direct role in this matter. These are decisions for the board and management of Fáilte Ireland and are not subject to my approval. I have referred the Deputy's question to the agency for reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Driver Licences

Questions (754)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

754. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to open a National Driving Licence Service office in the city centre to deal with backlogs in the existing Dublin centres. [5093/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The subject matter of this question, which is the operation of the National Driver Licensing Service, is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority.  I have therefore referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

Road Safety Authority Campaigns

Questions (755)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

755. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 204 of 14 November 2013, if the report referred to in the reply is now to hand. [5134/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I understand from the Road Safety Authority that it responded to the Deputy's original Parliamentary Question on 18th November 2013. To be of assistance to the Deputy, the response from the RSA is reproduced below:  

"The Road Safety Authority has expensed the following amounts in the years 2011, 2012 and in the period to September 2013 in respect of Road Safety Promotion Awareness and Education".

Year

2011

2012

Period to September 2013

Road Safety Promotion

€5,460,164

€5,804,313

€4,493,743

Public Transport

Questions (756)

Seán Kenny

Question:

756. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will contact the Chief Executive Officer of Iarnród Éireann regarding the entrance to a DART station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5176/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Iarnród Éireann 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 Tolls

Questions (757)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

757. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 699 of 26 November 2013, if he has met with representatives of the Irish Road Haulage Association in relation to the proposed road users levy to be introduced by the British Government in respect of HGVs entering the North and Britain; if he has discussed this matter at the North-South Ministerial Council; if there has been any further progress in his Department's discussion with his British counterpart; if he has received a formal proposal in relation to cross-Border routes that may be considered for exemption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5230/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Since becoming Minister, I have had a regular engagement and meetings with the Irish Road Haulage Association. At my most recent meeting with the IRHA, I received proposals from them in relation to HGV motor tax reform in response to the UK road users levy. These proposals were also sent to the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, as since the basis for the calculation of motor tax is a matter for his Department.  However, for the Deputy's information, my Department is chairing a cross-Governmental working group looking at the issues involved in developing a HGV road charging regime for Ireland in the medium term. This group is due to conclude its work by the middle of this year.

The issue of the UK HGV road user levy has been discussed at transport sectoral meetings of the North South Ministerial Council.  I am due to meet my counterpart UK Minister in late February.  I will once again raise the issue of an exemption from the user levy for certain roads in Northern Ireland at this meeting. I would be grateful if the Deputy's party colleagues in the House of Commons could raise the matter also.

Tourism Promotion

Questions (758)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

758. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the designation of a considerable part of south Kerry as an International Dark Sky Reserve; if he will assist with the marketing of this exciting development, which is also on the Wild Atlantic Way; if he will visit the area, preferably at night time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5304/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am, of course, aware that the International Dark-Sky Association recently declared almost 270 square miles of the Iveragh peninsula as the first International Dark Sky Place in Ireland. The Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve, which has been strongly supported by Failte Ireland and Kerry County Council, is the first Gold-tier Dark Sky Reserve in the northern hemisphere and among the darkest places in Europe. I should be happy to accept the Deputy's invitation to go star-gazing in South Kerry though perhaps when it is less cloudy.

The State tourism agencies are responsible for conducting marketing campaigns and I am happy to confirm that viewing the exceptional sky-scapes from the new Dark Sky Reserve will be included as an important experience on the Wild Atlantic Way by Failte Ireland and marketed internationally by Tourism Ireland.

Greenways Provision

Questions (759)

Arthur Spring

Question:

759. Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide the details of the route of the north Kerry line which was one of the two applications for a greenway project submitted by Kerry County Council. [5381/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The North Kerry Line application incorporates two elements.  Firstly, the application is concerned with a proposal to extend the 39km Great Southern Trail (GST) between the Kerry/Limerick Border, which is near Duagh, to Listowel.  This would be a distance of approximately 9km along the line of the existing abandoned railway between Limerick and Tralee.  The second element relates to a proposal for a 10km Tralee to Fenit Amenity Trail, which begins at Casements Railway Station in Tralee to Fenit.

All proposals are currently being considered by an assessment panel as part of the competitive process set against agreed criteria.  A decision and announcement of the successful projects under this second phase of the National Cycle Network Funding Programme is expected in the coming weeks.

Departmental Funding

Questions (760)

John Lyons

Question:

760. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he is preparing an application to the European Investment Bank for additional transport projects; and if he will submit an application to the EIB to fund the Metro North light rail project or another suitable project for the North Dublin-Fingal corridor. [5399/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Following  the comprehensive review of capital expenditure carried out in 2011 a decision was taken to defer the Metro North project together with a number of other proposed projects. Metro North was not therefore included for funding in the Infrastructural and Capital Investment 2012-2016: Medium term Exchequer Framework.  As the project is not currently progressing,  the question of preparing an application for funding from EIB  does not arise at this time.

It is important to remember that EIB funds come in the form of loans that must be repaid with interest. The EIB previously approved a loan in principle for part of the cost of Metro North so I would be confident that an application would be well received at the right time. Metro North and other projects will be reviewed in preparation for the next capital plan. This work is expected to be carried out in 2015.

I should advise in regard to the North Dublin/Fingal corridor, that the National Transport Authority is in the process of seeking proposals for a technical consultancy to assess the long term rail transport requirements of the North Dublin/Fingal corridor, extending from Finglas to the Malahide Road and including Dublin Airport and Swords.  This review will examine existing proposals such as Metro North as well as other options for a rail-based transport solution to meet the area’s needs in the long term. The outcome of this report will also inform the selection of priorities for inclusion in the next capital plan.

Aviation Issues

Questions (761)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

761. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which airlines such as Air India might be encouraged to land in Dublin-Shannon Airport while en route to New York; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5425/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

National aviation policy is aimed at facilitating maximum connectivity into and out of Ireland. The operation of air services between Ireland and non-EU states is governed either by bilateral air transport agreements or by EU-level air transport agreements.  Governments have no direct role in arranging the provision of international air services but can facilitate the market by having bilateral air transport agreements in place. Ireland has a bilateral agreement with India which provides the basis on which direct services could be provided by operators in the market. It is a matter for designated airlines to apply for particular routes under the Ireland-India Bilateral Agreement. Should Air India under the Agreement apply for the type of route proposed, the granting of such traffic rights would be subject to the agreement of the Irish and Indian authorities.

As Minister for Transport and for Tourism, I actively encourage airlines to either provide or increase services to Ireland. I regularly meet with executives from airlines to highlight the advantages of providing services to Ireland and the supports that are available to them here. Tourism Ireland constantly engage with airlines in the same vein. They identify routes that are of importance to the Irish tourism market and then seek to secure these services.  This is done through highlighting to airlines the attractions of Ireland, providing details on the tourism markets between the two countries, and if airlines choose to serve Ireland, Tourism Ireland support important tourism routes with co-operative marketing. The State Airport companies offer attractive incentive packages for new long haul routes including the waiving of landing fees. However ultimately it is a matter for the airlines themselves to decide what routes they will serve based on their own commercial judgements, taking account of the demand for services and the facilities available at those airports.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (762)

John Deasy

Question:

762. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the Apps his Department or attached agencies have been involved in developing for smartphones and other multimedia devices in the past three years; and the cost and the software developer employed in each case. [5467/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Irish Coast Guard assisted in advising the developer; DeCare Systems Ireland, on some functional requirements for the Irish Sailing Association SafeTrx App.  No costs were paid to the developer. I have asked the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department to provide the Deputy with the information requested.  If you do not receive a reply from the agencies within 10 working days please advise my private office.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (763)

Derek Nolan

Question:

763. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he proposes legislation to provide greater regulation to the conversion of cars to the gas sector, in particular, pertaining to the equipment used and the installers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5591/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I have no proposals to provide legislation for the regulation of converting cars to the gas sector in relation to either equipment used or the associated installers.  Regulation in relation to such matters tends to be EU led.

Taxi Licences Renewals

Questions (764)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

764. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if any special provision will be made for a person whose SPSV licence has lapsed over the course of an ongoing insurance dispute, which has left them temporarily without a vehicle. [5597/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the regulation of the taxi industry under the provisions of the Public Transport Regulation Act, 2009. The NTA is also the lead agency with responsibility for implementation of the recommendations of the Taxi Regulation Review Report 2011. Action 16 of the Taxi Regulation Review Report recommended a reduction in the period during which an "inactive" Small Public Service Vehicle licence may be reactivated from the current five year period to one year.

The Taxi Regulation Act, 2013, which gives legal effect to many of the recommendations of the Review Report, was signed into law on the 23 October 2013. The NTA has prepared draft SPSV regulations under the Taxi Regulation Act 2013 that will introduce some new measures provided for under the Act, as well as consolidating and replacing the existing regulations. The draft regulations, including provisions reducing the period for reactivation of expired SPSV licences to twelve months after the date of expiry of the licence, were the subject of a public consultation process that concluded on 31st January 2014. It is expected that the new regulations will be introduced in tandem with the commencement of the Act in early April, 2014.

Public Transport Initiatives

Questions (765)

Clare Daly

Question:

765. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to extend the DART commuter transport link to residential areas of Donabate and further areas on the rail network in north County Dublin. [5600/14]

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 infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), including the development of DART projects, comes within the remit of the NTA.

The extension of the DART to  Balbriggan forms part of the overall DART Underground project which was postponed in  2011. Due to financial constraints the Government's current capital plan to 2016 did not provide for the DART Underground which was planned as a PPP but with a very  significant  level of Exchequer support.

DART Underground remains a key element of the overall public transport integration strategy as it would deliver benefits for  each of the four rail corridors radiating from the city centre. It will be reviewed again in preparation for the next capital plan from 2017.   Though I do favour bringing consideration of the next plan forward in light of the improving public finances and increased growth forecasts by the Central Bank. I am concerned that without forward planning we could see a return to congestion in Dublin quite quickly and I do not want us to be caught off guard.

Coast Guard Services

Questions (766)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

766. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the Marine Survey Office and the Irish Maritime Administration have carried out a staffing analysis at Malin Head, Valentia and Dublin Coast Guard stations; if he has established the future staffing requirements for the Malin Head, Valentia and Dublin Coast Guard stations for the next three years taking into account impending retirements; if he will establish a recruitment panel for both the Marine Survey Office and the Irish Maritime Administration from which to fill positions that are vacated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5655/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Marine Survey Office has no function in relation to the Malin Head marine rescue co-ordination centre which is part of the Irish Coast Guard service. The Irish Maritime Administration is the collective name for all the maritime functions in my Department i.e. those undertaken by the Marine Survey Office, the Coast Guard, the Maritime Safety Policy Division, the Maritime Transport Division and the Maritime Services Division.

With regards to Malin Head, as the Deputy will be aware from a series of replies to his earlier representations and Parliamentary Questions, consideration was given to the resource requirements of the three Coast Guard Centres (Dublin, Malin, Valentia) following the publication of the Value for Money report into the operation of the Irish Coast Guard in 2012 and in the context of the prevailing economic climate.

In reviewing the overall situation, all relevant factors were identified including known retirements. As I advised previously, two additional radio officers (RO) will be recruited to bring the staffing complement for all three centres  to a minimum of 40, up from the present 38, and it is intended to seek approval from the Minister for Public Expenditure Reform for the filling of any vacancies that arise in the future within that overall number. As also indicated, in order to support the staffing complement figure of 40 ROs, advanced technologies and integrated working processes are required across the three centres. Work is advanced in procuring the necessary technologies aimed at delivering that objective.

Public Transport Initiatives

Questions (767)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

767. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 290 of 16 May 2013, if he will ask both Irish Rail and the National Transport Authority, separately, to provide an update on replacing the pedestrian bridge at the level crossing near Bray train-DART-bus station in County Wicklow that was taken down in 2011; if the proposed dates for the construction of the new bridge are still on target; the current dates projected for the work from now until the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5669/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As I explained in reply to the Deputy's previous PQ on this matter on 16th May 2013 the National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for the development of public transport infrastructure projects in the GDA.  I understand that the NTA responded to the Deputy's question on 23rd May 2013, advising that the pedestrian bridge at this level crossing had been taken down in 2011 for safety reasons and that it is not currently planned to replace it.

I have referred the Deputy's latest question to the NTA to provide any further clarity considered necessary.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Network

Questions (768)

Tom Fleming

Question:

768. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will, in conjunction with the National Roads Authority, make available the necessary funding to provide an overlay to the surface to the following national primary routes: N21, Headleys Bridge to Castleisland; N22, Farranfore to Killarney to County Bounds; and N23, Castleisland to Farranfore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5689/14]

View answer

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.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.