Question No. 589 answered with Question No. 571.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Applications

Questions (590)

Jack Wall

Question:

590. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health when funding will be provided for nursing home support in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12221/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (591)

Michael Ring

Question:

591. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has not received a decision on their medical card application in view of the serious illness of the person concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12222/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible. The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (592)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

592. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the action he is taking to encourage more Irish executives to serve on State boards under the remit of his Department; his views on the recent MERC Partners survey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12462/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In line with Government Decision S180/20/10/14234 of 2011, relating to the advertising for expressions of interest in vacancies on State Boards, my Department currently advertises for Board vacancies as they arise, where I, as Minister for Health, have nominating rights. Competencies are developed and agreed in conjunction with relevant Boards, depending on their requirements. The suitability of applicants is assessed against these criteria and a short-list is compiled from which I may make appointments. Appointments may not necessarily be from one of the applications received through the advertising process, which is also in line with the Government Decisions.

I welcome one of the main findings of the Merc Partners survey, which showed that 80% of the those involved in the research would be happy to put themselves forward for a position on a State board. Boards need a broad range of competencies in order to function effectively and it good to know that there is such enthusiasm among the private sector to contribute to public sector boards. To date my Department has posted over 30 notices for expressions of interest to State boards on its website or through the Public Appointments Service and this process will continue as a way of ensuring the best mix of skills and experience both from public and private sectors is available to our Boards. I am confident that the appointments made by me are contributing in a meaningful way to the important work undertaken by the various State bodies under the aegis of this Department.

Road Network

Questions (593)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

593. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the western bypass at Ardee, County Louth; the commencement date for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11523/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and 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.

Diaspora Centre Establishment

Questions (594)

John Lyons

Question:

594. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the proposed national diaspora centre will have an entrepreneurship dimension, seeking to upskill the recent generation of emigrants in order to attract diaspora investment and link members of the diaspora with each other to develop entrepreneurship potential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12030/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The purpose of the call for expressions of interest to build a Diaspora Centre is to develop a tourist attraction that will attract overseas visitors and enhance their experience in Ireland. Based on the research to date an entrepreneurship dimension would not fulfil those aims and therefore, an entrepreneurship dimension will not form part of the call for expressions of interest nor the basis on which those expressions of interest will be assessed.

Pension Provisions

Questions (595)

Finian McGrath

Question:

595. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the Irish aviation superannuation scheme [11569/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Following consultations between my Department, the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, IBEC and ICTU, an Expert Panel has recently been established to carry out a detailed investigation of how a final resolution of the industrial relations issues relating to the IASS can be secured.  That investigation will include discussions with relevant stakeholders and the Panel has been asked to make a preliminary report by the end of March. However, these efforts do not take away from the fact that as Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, I have no function in relation to the administration of the IASS. The resolution of the funding difficulties in the scheme, which has a substantial and unsustainable deficit of over €700 million, is primarily a matter for the trustees, the members of the scheme, the companies participating in the scheme and the regulator of such pension schemes - the Pensions Board. The trustees have recently announced that they have decided in principle on a number of changes to address the funding difficulties. The trustees, who are central to any solution to the funding difficulties, are required by law to act in the best interests of all members, be they active, deferred or pensioner members.

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Questions (596)

Dara Calleary

Question:

596. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if flexibility will be provided on the moratorium on recruitment in order to allow the Road Safety Authority to recruit driving instructors and testers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11730/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Road Safety Authority has made no application to my Department for an exception to the moratorium to recruit driving instructors/testers. If such an application is made, it will be considered by my Department within the overall context of the Moratorium on Recruitment and Promotion in the Public Service and the Employment Control Framework (ECF). This requires that public sector numbers and the public sector pay bill are reduced, and therefore, the filling of vacancies and the creation of new posts can only be approved in very exceptional circumstances.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (597)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

597. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the haulage of agricultural fodder (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11744/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My officials are in the process of preparing draft legislation to provide an exemption from the maximum vehicle height of 4.65 metres in respect of the haulage of all agricultural fodder, including baled silage. The legislation is at an advanced stage and I hope to bring it into operation shortly.

Taxi Regulations

Questions (598)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

598. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the transfer of a hackney service licence in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11748/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The regulation of the small public service vehicle industry, including the licensing of hackneys, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA), under the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009. I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Questions (599)

Robert Troy

Question:

599. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding a sports grant application in respect of a club (details supplied) in County Meath. [11769/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I can confirm that an application by the club under the 2014 Sports Capital Programme has been submitted and the Deputy's support for the project is noted.

Road Projects Status

Questions (600)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

600. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he or the National Roads Authority will provide an update on the progress that has been made to date on the N11 upgrade project between Arklow and Rathnew in County Wicklow as of March 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11771/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and 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.

Road Tolls

Questions (601)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

601. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department or any organisation under its aegis has oversight in the setting of penalty costs for late payment of toll road charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11812/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and 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 do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Safety

Questions (602)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

602. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has been alerted to the need for speeding restrictions in the village of Clogheen-Kerry Pike, County Cork, and his plans to address same. [11822/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The default speed limits for different categories of road, including roads in built up urban areas, are specified in the Road Traffic Acts. There is provision in the legislation for local authorities to make bye-laws providing for special speed limits in specific circumstances. The enforcement of speed limits is a matter for An Garda Síochána. Road authorities also have powers to provide traffic calming measures on roads in their charge.

Departmental Legal Costs

Questions (603)

Denis Naughten

Question:

603. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will set out, in tabular form and by reference to each named firm, the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by his Department to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered to it; if he will provide in a similar format the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by State bodies, including commercial or non-commercial and regulatory bodies established by or under the remit of his Department, to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered to it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11879/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The information requested by the Deputy is available on my Department's website at the following link http://www.dttas.ie/corporate/english/expenditure-external-services. These figures relate to the period to end October 2013. However, an update is currently in progress and figures to the end of 2013 will shortly be available on the site.

Information in respect of legal fees paid out by State bodies under the remit of my Departments is a matter for the relevant agency. I have forwarded the Deputy's request to the agencies for direct reply to him. If he does not receive a reply within 10 working days please contact my private office.

Legislative Programme

Questions (604)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

604. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects to sign commencement orders to enact the Road Traffic Act 2014; and if he will provide a specific timeframe of when he expects to enact the specific provisions in respect of changes to the penalty points system and learner and novice drivers. [12022/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am keen to commence the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 2014 as soon as possible. I intend to commence most of its provisions from the beginning of April.  Specifically, I am planning to commence sections 3 to 5, 7 to 9, and 14 to 26.  This will include most of the new driver licensing provisions, with the exception of section 6 which provides for the recording of accompanied driving experience in a logbook before learners make take the driving test. Regulations will be required setting out the specific requirements of the logbook before section 6 can be commenced. My Department is currently liaising with the Road Safety Authority regarding the drafting of the necessary Regulations.

With regard to sections 10 to 13, these include the new penalty points provisions, and the new measures to deal with intoxicated driving.  It is necessary to ensure that all of the appropriate administrative and technical issues have been addressed in the relevant organisations - the Road Safety Authority, National Vehicle Driver File, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety and An Garda Síochána - before these sections are commenced.  My Department is in discussion with the organisations involved in this regard and, while  I cannot provide the Deputy with a precise date for commencement of these sections, I intend it to be at the earliest possible date.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Questions (605)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

605. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding a sports capital grant in respect of a club (details supplied); when the grant will be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12194/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I can confirm that an application has been submitted by the club referred to by the Deputy under the 2014 Sports Capital Programme and your support for the project is noted. I will be making allocations later this year.

Student Travel Card

Questions (606)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

606. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the National Transport Authority, which comes under his remit, will include participants who are on specific education-based community employment schemes on the list of those eligible for student travel passes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12220/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Student Travelcard is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Safety

Questions (607)

David Stanton

Question:

607. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the need for electric vehicles to be fitted with devices that will emit sound so that pedestrians, cyclists and, in particular, persons who are visually impaired will be alerted to the fact that such vehicles are approaching; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12223/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Electric and electric-hybrid vehicles which are effectively silent, particularly at low speeds, present a potential danger to vulnerable road users such as the visually impaired, as well as cyclists and pedestrians.  In an effort at ensuring road and occupational safety, a proposal for an EU Regulation on the sound level of motor vehicles - COM (2011) 856, included provisions regarding the minimum noise for electric and electric-hybrid vehicles through ‘Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems’ (AVAS). During Ireland’s term as Presidency of the European Council in the first half of 2013, the Road Safety Authority chaired the Working Group meetings at which this proposal was progressed. Early in the discussions, Ireland made a submission that hybrid and electric vehicles would require the mandatory fitment of AVAS. Other Member States were supportive of these proposals and by the end of the Irish Presidency a consensus was achieved which requires vehicle manufacturers to install AVAS in new types of vehicles within four years and then to all new vehicles within six years. Once consideration of the proposal has been completed at official level, it will go to the Council of Ministers, where the mandatory measures for AVAS will receive my support. Based on the progress being made so far, it is anticipated that a formal EU Regulation on vehicle noise will be adopted before the end of this year.