Sports Funding

Questions (265)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

265. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which studies have been carried out and comparisons made with other jurisdictions with a view to ensuring that Irish competitors in all sports have access to efficient training and facilities to enable them to compete at international level at international global events such as the Olympics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15644/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Irish Sports Council, which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body with responsibility for the promotion, development and co-ordination of sport, including the High Performance programme and elite athletes.  The Council also has responsibility for initiating research concerning sport.

I have referred the Deputy's question to the Irish Sports Council for direct response. I would ask the Deputy to inform my office if a reply is not received within ten days.

 

Question No. 266 answered with Question No. 260.

Airlines Regulations

Questions (267)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

267. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he sees the respective roles for Aer Lingus and Ryanair to develop in the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15646/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Since Ryanair was first established in the 1980s, Ireland’s aviation policy has favoured competition by having at least two major airlines competing in the Irish market. Between them Aer Lingus and Ryanair currently provide over 80% of the seat capacity in the Irish market, thus making the competitive dynamic between these two airlines particularly important. Competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus has been good for Irish consumers and also Irish connectivity.

The consultation paper on a National Aviation Policy asked for comments on whether the policy of favouring two major airlines should continue. Having considered all the submissions received, I intend to publish a draft National Aviation Policy for further comment in the coming weeks.  

 

Ferry Services Provision

Questions (268)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

268. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which his Department continues to examine the efficiency, effectiveness and development of all aspects of sea transport in view of the fact that this country is an island with no land connection to Europe; if comparisons have been made with other countries in a similar situation with a view to maximisation and increased availability of ferry services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15647/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Ireland is well served by ferry links to the UK and continental Europe and offers a diverse range of maritime links to and from the State to facilitate trade and tourism, providing vital income streams to the Irish economy. Over 90% of Ireland’s trade moves by sea and there are currently 22 shipping operators providing a mixture of daily to weekly scheduled shipping services from Ireland. This includes companies providing year round scheduled passenger services between Ireland and the UK and France.

It is important to note that all shipping companies servicing routes to and from Ireland are commercial companies.  Any new initiatives to enhance services are market driven, as it is not government policy to fund international shipping services as this would be contrary to EU State Aid and Competition law.

Activity in the sector proved positive last year. Irish shipping and port activity rose by 3% in the third quarter of 2013 when compared to the corresponding period of 2012, according to the latest figures produced by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO). In terms of passengers, figures in 2013 show that ferry passenger numbers travelling to and from Ireland increased by 1%  when compared to 2012. In 2014,  Irish Ferries introduced a new direct passenger car ferry service linking Dublin with Cherbourg while another company  LD Lines announced a new passenger and freight ferry service linking Rosslare with the French port of St Nazaire and the Northern Spanish port of Gijon. 

Competition in the ferry sector is encouraged and I expect services to continue to develop and expand to meet any increased market demands in the future.  My Department through the IMDO works closely with all existing operators and continues to promote Ireland as a location for new services. Fáilte Ireland is also involved in active promotion and marketing of sea access routes to Ireland in their role of promoting Ireland as a high quality and competitive tourist destination.

Job Creation

Questions (269)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

269. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way his Department continues to evaluate employment creation opportunities, directly and indirectly through co-ordinated efforts between the areas of transport, tourism and sport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15648/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As an Island, accessibility is a major focus and I am constantly seeking to ensure that synergies between transport, tourism and sport are exploited to improve access to the country, enhance competitiveness and also create job opportunities. My Department’s Mission Statement is to ensure that the transport, tourism and sport sectors make the greatest possible contribution to economic recovery, fiscal consolidation, job creation and social development.  In a separate reply to a Parliamentary Question by the Deputy today, I have set out the measures in place to ensure the integration and coordination between land, air and sea transport so that all contribute to the achievement of the mission statement.

I published my priorities for 2014 on my Department’s website earlier this year. It can be seen from these priorities, and from priorities set out and achieved in the previous 3 years, that linkages and opportunities between the transport, tourism and sports sectors are identified and exploited.

In tourism this year, we will build on the achievements of 2013 and focus on increasing visitor numbers to Ireland. The latest CSO figures show very strong growth in revenue from overseas visitors last year and confirm that tourism is playing a significant role in Ireland’s economic recovery and has directly contributed to the maintenance and creation of new jobs in the tourism sector over 2013.  I plan to build on this and am aiming to grow visitor numbers by 4% and tourism revenue by 8% over 2014. There will be a strong focus on sports tourism and outdoor tourism with the Giro d’Italia, Croke Park Classic and the Wild Atlantic Way.

As of yesterday, the Government delivered on its commitment to reduce the air travel tax to zero. The commitment was based on airlines being willing to increase capacity on our key access routes. The airlines have responded with new flights into Ireland and increased capacity on existing routes. 

My priorities also include a new motorway in the West, commencement of works on the Luas Cross City Project, laying the foundations for our bid for the Rugby World Cup, starting on the National Indoor Arena at the National Sports Campus in Dublin, and making new allocations for facilities and equipment under the Sports Capital Programme.

My Department has inputted to the development of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and we will ensure that we deliver on our commitments within it. In developing the Action Plan, the Government is taking not just a short term view of job creation but is also laying the foundation for structures that facilitate and support longer term sustainable job creation opportunities. My Department is doing likewise.

Question No. 270 answered with Question No. 260.

Road Safety

Questions (271)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

271. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of road safety measures taken that have impacted most positively on road traffic accidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15650/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Ireland has made huge progress in road safety in the last decade and has one of the best road safety records in the EU. Countless lives have been saved through improved legislation, widespread changes in driver behaviour, better engineering and enhanced enforcement.

The establishment of the Road Safety Authority, the introduction of the fixed charge and penalty points system, random breath-testing for alcohol and lower permissible limits, the enactment of targeted legislation, the establishment of a dedicated Garda Traffic Corps and the introduction of safety cameras are but some of the measures and initiatives introduced in this country in recent years that have contributed to the reduction in fatalities and have led to positive changes in driver behaviour. From 415 deaths on our roads in 2001, we have seen a dramatic reduction to 190 deaths in 2013.

However, we must continue to implement measures and take further initiatives that will lead to even safer roads. In March 2013, I launched the Road Safety Strategy that lists 144 Actions to be implemented by various State agencies in order to make Irish roads the safest in Europe. I will continue to ensure that these actions are implemented.