Departmental Staff Expenses

Questions (225)

Clare Daly

Question:

225. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the protocol in relation to assistant principal officers and principal officers using their private cars and claiming unvouched expenses when official cars are available in his Department; if he has received any complaints regarding same; and the oversight that is in place to deal with same. [14844/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department does not have official cars available for use by staff. When staff travel on official duties, they are required to complete a travel claim form for expenses. The rates of mileage and subsistence are paid in line with the relevant circulars issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Any other expenses must be vouched.

Vehicle Height Limits

Questions (226)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

226. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which road transport height restrictions continue to be alleviated in the agri-transport sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14440/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Statutory Instrument 366 of 2008 sets the maximum vehicle height limit at 4.65 metres and was signed into law by my predecessor, Minister Noel Dempsey. These regulations allowed a five year derogation from that limit for vehicles registered, licensed or in use prior to 1st November 2008. The derogation was introduced to allow a 5-year period within which vehicles operating at heights in excess of the new limits could be withdrawn from use or to allow the necessary height reductions by operators. This derogation expired on the 31st October last.

Following the expiry of the derogation, specific concerns have been raised with me by the agri-sector in relation to the effect that the 4.65 metre maximum vehicle height restriction would have on the cost of transporting fodder. Unfortunately, these concerns were only raised by the sector immediately prior to the expiry of the 5 year derogation in October last, and not prior to the 2008 regulations being signed into law nor in the subsequent five years.

Notwithstanding this, I have considered the various issues involved and consulted with my colleague Minister Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and with Irish Rail and the IFA. Arising from this, my officials are drafting regulations to allow for a very narrow exemption for the haulage of agricultural fodder, i.e. straw and hay only, from the height limits brought in by the 2008 regulations.  Those regulations are nearing completion and I hope to be in a position to sign them shortly.

Vehicle Clamping

Questions (227)

Simon Harris

Question:

227. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to regulate the clamping industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14255/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Programme for Government contains a commitment “to legislate to regulate the vehicle clamping industry”. Therefore, in late 2011 I asked the then Joint Committee on Environment, Transport, Culture and Gaeltacht to provide views on the initial draft of the legislation. The Committee carried out a number of hearings on the matter and published detailed recommendations on the issues that should be included. In March 2013, the Government approved the drafting of a Regulation of Vehicle Immobilisation Bill. The Bill is currently being drafted by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and I expect to publish it this year.

Driver Licences

Questions (228)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Question:

228. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if Irish driver licences have been approved in Canada. [14429/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which is responsible for the National Driver Licensing Service (NDLS), has been engaging for some time with the driver licensing authorities in Canada with a view to reaching mutual recognition agreements on driving licences between Ireland and Canada. Agreements of this kind can be complex, and involve detailed studies of the driver licensing regimes on both sides in order to satisfy both sides that the two regimes are compatible.  The result may be a straightforward agreement on exchange, or may involve some additional detail, where the two systems are not entirely compatible. 

In the case of Canada, driver licensing operates at provincial rather than national level.  This complicates matters, as the RSA must reach separate agreements with each individual province.

I understand from the RSA that agreement is now very close with Ontario, Manitoba, and Newfoundland & Labrador.

Swimming Pool Projects

Questions (229)

Billy Timmins

Question:

229. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the criteria with respect to population requirement for the allocation of funding for the construction of a public swimming pool; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14447/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The current round of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme was closed to new applicants on 31 July 2000. Since 2000, 58 projects have or are being dealt with under the Programme, of which 49 have been completed and the other 9 projects are at various stages of the Programme. There are four stages in the development of a project under the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, namely Preliminary Report, Contract Documents, Tender and Construction.  

There is no criterion regarding a specific population requirement for the allocation of funding for the construction of a public swimming pool. However, the Feasibility Study prepared by the local authority as part of the Preliminary Report Stage is a key part of the overall process, focusing as it does, on central aspects of any pool project including the geographical location of the pool, its hinterland, the facilities to be provided and the consequent potential number of visitors or visits per annum needed to sustain business viability.  Of particular relevance in this regard is the size of the target population within a reasonable travelling distance of the pool, the demographics involved, and market surveys of likely participation in swimming activity for the purpose of calculating the potential numbers of visitors to the pool.  The effect of other swimming facilities in the area is also taken into account.

Departmental Staff Expenses

Questions (230)

Clare Daly

Question:

230. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the protocol in relation to assistant principal officers and principal officers using their private cars and claiming unvouched expenses when official cars are available in his Department; if he has received any complaints regarding same; and the oversight that is in place to deal with same. [14848/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

There are two areas in my Department where official vehicles are used – the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) and the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU). Use of these vehicles is restricted to the operational functions of the IRCG and AAIU and is not available to non-technical administrative staff in the Department. As such, the situation as described by the Deputy does not arise.