Park and Ride Facilities

Questions (65)

Brian Stanley


65. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will address the need to expand the number of electric vehicle charging points at Portlaoise and Ballybrophy train stations, County Laois and the need to expand the parking facilities to encourage the use of renewable transport and greater use of public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45482/18]

View answer

Oral answers (14 contributions) (Question to Transport)

I welcome the opportunity to ask the Minister this question related to the rail stations in Ballybrophy, Portlaoise and Portarlington. In Ballybrophy and Portlaoise there are problems with the parking areas, including a shortage of parking spaces. I hope the Minister can address the issue because we must start to make it easier for commuters.

I am glad to hear a temperate and serious point being made. It is appropriate that we talk about electric vehicles, EVs, charging points and issues which are of importance to all of us and behind which we can all unite.

Travel demand is increasing in Ireland. It is imperative that we meet this growing demand in the cleanest manner to limit further emissions from the transport sector. Where feasible, increased demand must be accommodated on the public transport network or through walking and cycling. Improving public and active transport services and infrastructure is central to providing a greener alternative to the private car, reducing both congestion and emission levels. I was delighted to secure a 20% increase in capital investment in budget 2019 to support sustainable mobility projects and welcome the Government's commitment in the national development plan to invest €8.6 billion in public transport in the ten years to 2027.

The Deputy asked about electric vehicle charging points at two specific train station park and ride facilities. I note that responsibility for national charging infrastructure rests with the Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I strongly support the transition to electric vehicles as a necessary step-change for Ireland to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions. In fact, through the national policy framework for alternative fuels infrastructure for transport in Ireland 2017 to 2030, I have firmly outlined an ambition that all new cars and vans sold in Ireland from 2030 onwards will be zero emission-capable.

As to the named train stations, I am not currently aware - the Deputy may be more aware than I am - of a charging point located at Ballybrophy train station, but I was encouraged to note high usage rates of the charging point at Portlaoise train station. I am informed that it was used 45 times in October alone. This charging point was supplied, installed and commissioned and is maintained by ESB Networks. I understand the ESB has in a recent announcement committed to expanding and carrying out upgrade and replacement works on its public charging infrastructure.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

Park and ride facilities are an effective way of increasing the catchment area of the public transport network and encouraging a modal shift away from the private car. Where possible, the combination of driving to a train station in a low-emitting vehicle to continue one's journey on public transport is a model I would like to see become widespread. I have no role in respect of Iarnród Éireann car parks, but I am informed that parking at both mentioned train stations is spatially limited and at peak capacity on weekdays. I understand from Iarnród Éireann that the expansion of car-parking facilities at train stations is subject to the conduct of feasibility studies to determine average occupancy and developing expansion strategies, as appropriate.

I am happy to report that the uptake of electric vehicles in Ireland has more than doubled this year compared with last year, albeit from a low base. The barriers to electric vehicles are increasingly being overcome with wider vehicle availability, in improving journey distance ranges, through better affordability and greater consumer awareness. The Government is playing its part. An interdepartmental low-emitting vehicles task force was jointly convened by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to consider a range of measures to expedite the deployment of low-carbon technologies, especially the uptake of electric vehicles. Recommendations from the task force were considered in the previous two budgetary processes and a generous package of measures to promote the uptake of electric vehicles is in place, including purchase grants, vehicle registration tax and benefit-in-kind relief, reduced tolls and a home charger installation grant. These incentives have resulted in there being approximately 6,500 electric vehicles on Irish roads today.

We are also seeing continued strong growth in heavy rail use. In 2017 there were an extra 2.7 million passenger journeys, a 6.3% annual increase on the figure for 2016, which brought the total to 45.5 million journeys, similar to the 2007 peak. New services such as those using the Phoenix Park tunnel in Dublin have contributed to this expansion.

These are welcome trends. It is only through the combination of cleaner technologies with more efficient, greener transport solutions that Ireland will be capable of catering for growing transport demand in a sustainable, low-emissions manner.

I thank the Minister for his answer. I am glad to hear that we are on the same page in expanding the number of electric vehicle charging points. The point is that there is not one at Ballybrophy and we want one, two or three. Traditionally, the station at Ballybrophy has been quiet. It is situated in a rural area between Rathdowney and Borris-in-Ossory and becoming busy again, which is no bad thing. There is a charging point at Portlaoise, although there is a problem with it. We need more at that station. There is also a problem as a result of all-day parking. Some drivers of EVs plug them in and think they have exclusive parking rights for the day. This issue needs to be addressed. There is a need for a system to be put in place by Iarnród Éireann to ensure motorists will not let their vehicles sit at these parking spaces for 12 or 14 hours. Commuters have a hard job. There are 11,477 people commuting out of County Laois alone to work each day and many of them travel by train. As somebody who uses the train occasionally, I can tell the Minister that it is hard work using the service because of the lack of parking spaces.

I will give one example. Somebody who wants to attend a hospital appointment but who arrives at Portlaoise or Ballybrophy stations after 7 a.m. will not get a parking space because they are not available. If that person is disabled, there is a problem. There is land adjacent to the station that needs to be developed for parking.

I do not believe there is a charging point at Ballybrophy although there is one in Portarlington.

There is one but we need an extra one.

The one in Portlaoise is very well used. I take the Deputy's point. If he thinks there should be more in Portlaoise, I will pass on that message to Iarnród Éireann and see what is the response. I share the Deputy's concern about people parking for the day and blocking the parking spaces and the charger. If that were to happen, it would be unforgivable. If it is happening, it should be remedied either by the ESB or Iarnród Éireann, or a combination of the two, because it is obviously counterproductive. It was used 45 times in a month but, if people are blocking them, that could obviously be improved.

I am happy to report the uptake of electric vehicles generally in Ireland has more than doubled this year compared to last year, and while that is admittedly from a low base, it is very encouraging. The barriers to electric vehicles are increasingly being overcome with wider vehicle availability, improving journey distance ranges, better affordability and greater consumer awareness. The Government is playing its part. An interdepartmental low-emitting vehicles task force was jointly convened by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to consider a range of measures to expedite the deployment of low-carbon technologies, especially the uptake of electric vehicles. Recommendations from the task force were considered in the previous two budgetary processes and a generous package of measures to promote the uptake of electric vehicles is in place.

Car parking at Ballybrophy and Portlaoise needs to be expanded as current facilities are not adequate. There is land adjacent to both stations that can be utilised, with the land at Portlaoise located right beside the station. The county council is interested in doing this and has been trying to do something about it. I urge the Department and Iarnród Éireann to liaise with the county council to try to get that in place.

In regard to charging points, Ballybrophy does not have one and it needs to have one or two, and we need an extra one or two in both Portlaoise and Portarlington. We need to find a system to stop people from blocking the charging points all day long, in other words, parking, plugging in, going to work and using the charging point and the space for the whole day.

The other point on parking is that it is very difficult for people who arrive after 7 a.m., which is a major problem. At Portlaoise all spaces are gone by 6.45 a.m. and it is impossible after 7 a.m., while it is difficult at Ballybrophy. This needs to be addressed. We have to start getting people to use the trains and we have to make it easier for them. It is a very costly service. It is €100 a week to use the train but it is also €4.50 a day to park. When it is all added up, it is costly. We need to make it easier and we need to keep the prices down.

I want to do everything I can to encourage people to use these charging points. What the Deputy is expressing is probably a microcosm of what is happening elsewhere. While I am talking rather loosely as I have no other evidence, it would appear that Portlaoise is not the only place where this is happening. If people are blocking parking spaces and using chargers, they may be frustrating others who wish to charge their cars.

Although Deputy Troy will be very annoyed, I cannot interfere with the workings of the NTA or Iarnród Éireann-----

Are they not reporting to the Minister?

-----but what I can do is pass on Deputy Stanley's message and I can ask them the question-----

The Minister is the shareholder.

I will do that. I will ask them a question about whether this is a frequent occurrence and whether it is affecting EVs, because that would be an important point to make.

How the lion became a lamb.

We will also continue to promote EVs through purchase grants, VRT and benefit-in-kind relief, reduced tolls and the home charger installation grant. These incentives have resulted in some 6,500 electric vehicles being on Irish roads today. The position is improving rapidly and we are working to ensure that continues.

Semi-State Bodies Expenditure

Questions (66)

Imelda Munster


66. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the breakdown of additional spend for each of the three CIÉ companies, capital and current, and a company (details supplied) in budget 2019. [45646/18]

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Oral answers (6 contributions) (Question to Transport)

The question asks for details of the exact breakdown of additional spend for each of the three CIÉ companies, capital and current, and for Go-Ahead in budget 2019.

In budget 2019 I secured an overall allocation for 2019 of €2.3 billion for the transport, tourism and sport Vote. This spending will support delivery of the national strategic outcomes outlined in the national planning framework, it is aligned with the strategic investment priorities of the national development plan and it is a 17% increase on the 2018 level. Some €788 million, or 34%, of the total is being provided towards sustainable mobility measures.

The Deputy asked about the additional spend for certain individual transport operators for 2019. Since 2010 my Department no longer pays direct subvention to operators for public transport services. The award of PSO funding to support socially necessary but financially unviable services falls under the independent statutory remit of the NTA. The allocations to the individual companies are decided by the NTA in the exercise of its statutory mandate and in accordance with the various contract arrangements it has in place with PSO service providers. Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann and Bus Átha Cliath provide the majority of PSO services. However, Go-Ahead has now commenced operating on a number of routes under the recent competitively tendered contracts awarded by the NTA under bus market opening. There are also a small number of PSO routes operated by other private operators.

As the Deputy is aware, the PSO programme represents a significant expenditure of taxpayers' money and aggregate funding has increased in recent years. This year I provided an allocation of €285 million in PSO funding to the NTA, which is €75 million higher than in 2015, representing an increase of 36% in the past three years. This funding is allocated via the NTA to support the delivery of these socially necessary but financially unviable services, which have grown in recent years. In budget 2019 I secured further additional funding which means I will be providing €287 million to the NTA for PSO funding in 2019.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

As well as those increases in current expenditure, I have also secured significant increases for capital expenditure. These increases will allow the NTA and the operators to address both current infrastructure challenges and also plan for the future in terms of new and expanded infrastructure.

As the Deputy is aware, a key priority in recent years has been to reach the "steady state" level of investment in our heavy rail network. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that budget 2019 provides around €200 million to Iarnród Éireann in 2019 to maintain our extensive heavy rail network across the State. Achievement of the "steady state" level is a significant step forward for the rail network and is in line with last year’s IMF report on public investment, known as the PIMA report, and also the commitments outlined in the national development plan.

In terms of other capital investment programmes, my Department provides funding to the NTA, which in turn then allocates funding to the individual operators in accordance with its agreed capital investment priorities. Budget 2019 provides for significant increases in available funding for both heavy rail enhancement and BusConnects, and specific allocations will be agreed between the NTA and the operators in the coming weeks. The projects to be funded under these programmes include city centre rail resignalling, the new national train control centre and bus fleet renewal and expansion under BusConnects.

The increased funding I have secured over recent budgets will enhance and improve the experiences of the travelling public in 2019 and beyond.

The Minister seems to have handed over responsibility. I am surprised. The question was very direct and precise and I thought he would be only too happy to deal with it. I will repeat the question. I asked for details of the exact breakdown of additional spend for each of the three CIÉ companies, capital and current. Even if he has given over responsibility to the NTA, the fact he did not request those figures from the NTA, and then is happy to tell me exactly what was allocated for each company in capital and current spending, speaks volumes. This is added to the fact the last three budgets have been disastrous for transport. When a €30 million reduction in capital spend this year for transport, tourism and sport is taken into account, what the Minister secured overall was just €20 million in additional spend for his entire portfolio. There is no investment worth speaking of. Even for the basics like regional roads, rail and public transport, there is nothing. That the Minister could not come in here and tell me that he secured X, Y and Z in capital and current funding for each of the CIÉ companies is not what I expected.

I get staggered from time to time when I listen to Deputy Munster. I sometimes think good news is very unwelcome to her and that she finds it rather uncomfortable, so she has somehow to misinterpret it. I do not know what planet she is on. I have to repeat that the PSO subvention increased in 2016, 2017 and again this year. It is an increase. I do not know if the Deputy thinks it is a decrease. Over three years it will increase by 36% in total. That is an awful lot of money. Funding of €285 million is being allocated in 2018 to support the delivery of socially necessary but financially unviable journeys and routes. I do not see how the Deputy can complain about that. I can understand why she does not like the opening of the bus market but how she can complain about increased spending baffles me.

In terms of other capital investment programmes, my Department provides funding to the NTA, which in turn allocates funding to the individual operators in accordance with its agreed capital investment priorities. Budget 2019 provides for significant increases in funding for heavy rail enhancements and BusConnects and specific allocations will be agreed between the NTA and the operators in the coming weeks. The projects to be funded under these programmes include city centre rail resignalling, the new national train control centre and the bus fleet renewal and expansion under BusConnects.

The Minister is taking advantage.

I cannot see how the Deputy can be dissatisfied with the spend.

Airport Development Projects

Questions (67, 93)

Imelda Munster


67. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the rationale for putting forward plans for a third terminal at Dublin Airport despite opposition from key stakeholders; the details of the lobbying efforts to his Department and office in favour of a third terminal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45645/18]

View answer

Brendan Ryan


93. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his position on a possible third terminal in Dublin Airport; if a new terminal would be publicly owned and operated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45652/18]

View answer

Oral answers (27 contributions) (Question to Transport)

Will the Minister outline his rationale for putting forward plans for a third terminal at Dublin Airport despite almost universal opposition from key stakeholders? Will he also outline the details of the lobbying efforts to his Department and office in favour of a third terminal, and will he make a statement on the matter?

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 93 together.

I am not aware that there is universal opposition to the proposal. The Deputy must know something I do not know. We have not yet carried out the consultation, but I do not expect that there will be universal opposition to it. I expect that during the consultation differing views will be expressed, with some in favour of the proposal and others against it.

As the Deputy will be aware, Oxford Economics in conjunction with Cambridge Economic Policy Associates were contracted last year, in line with a commitment outlined in the national aviation policy, to conduct a high-level strategic capacity review of Ireland’s State airports. This review was delivered to me at the end of August and provides a very helpful assessment that is specific about short-term actions and identifies further work that needs to be undertaken to assist in decision-making for the longer term. The review looks to the future needs of the three State airports to 2050, identifying priorities for new or adjusted infrastructure development to pre-empt any capacity constraints at the airports in Cork and Shannon as well as at Dublin Airport. To ensure that there is an open approach to the policy options for Dublin Airport, my officials and I have commenced a process of consultation on the review in which all stakeholders will have an opportunity to set out their views. When I have all the views and information available to me, I will carefully consider the issues and make recommendations to Government in early 2019.

DAA holds statutory responsibility to operate and develop Dublin and Cork airports and its focus, rightly, is on delivering the north runway by 2021, along with a package of other projects that are needed to address existing capacity constraints at the airport. Ireland needs these projects to be completed to ensure maximum international connectivity for our economy. It is a matter of record that in 2016 my officials and I met individuals who have publicly expressed an interest in developing a terminal at Dublin Airport. I will be very clear to the House, as I was to the individuals concerned, that if a decision in favour of an independently owned or operated terminal at Dublin Airport were to be made at any point in the future, there would have to be an open tendering process for the award of the concession.

Many stakeholders, including the DAA and several airlines, have questioned the Minister's plan for a third terminal at Dublin Airport. They say that he needs to concentrate on the more immediate needs of the airport, including the third runway, which has been a litany of disasters from the Minister's point of view. Also, the Minister's recent report raises issues around immediate capacity at Dublin Airport at peak times. Surely, this issue should be prioritised. What work is being done in this regard?

In the consideration of our aviation strategy for Dublin Airport in particular, what consideration is given by the Minister to climate emissions? How does he integrate this issue into the decision-making process in terms of investment in projects and the strategy he is following?

I will allow a question from Deputy Troy during the next round of supplementary questions.

Deputy Munster mentioned that the trade unions and various other groups are opposed to the proposal. I have not heard any response from the trade unions on the proposal. Maybe they have issued a statement, but I have not seen it.

I did not mention the trade unions.

They are key stakeholders and I presume they will have an interest in the matter. They will be consulted, as will all of the airlines. All people who are interested in making submissions should do so, including DAA, Ryanair, Aer Lingus and other interested groups. We will take those submissions into account. That is the purpose of the consultation process and the reason the report was commissioned.

On Deputy Eamon Ryan's question, the consultants were told that in compiling their report they should take into account Government policies.

The Minister has ignored the rail review over the past two years. It was flagged on numerous occasions that there are serious safety concerns around it. This pet project of the Minister is not urgent. Why is he so enthusiastic about it and why the rush to progress it? Deputy Troy asked the Minister to provide details of lobbying efforts for a third terminal and of meetings or other interactions between the Minister or his Department and lobbyists on the issue, to which the Minister responded that he would have no issue meeting lobbyists. Will the Minister confirm if he has met any lobbyists?

I am keen to hear more detail from the Minister on how he and-or his Department take account of the climate change implications of transport policies which they are applying given the Taoiseach's statement that climate change is a priority for the Government and the significant number of international reports on the issue. The Minister mentioned that the consultants take account of overall policy. Does the Minister or the Department in specific projects take into account the impact of climate emissions?

Perhaps the Minister will identify the private stakeholders he has met in regard to the future development of the airport. DAA is of the view that a third terminal is not needed. Ryanair, the largest operator at Dublin Airport, is of the view that aircraft stands and operation of the second runaway, not a third terminal, are the priority. Aer Lingus, which operates a successful hub, is also of the view that a third terminal is not a priority. Everyone but the Minister is of the view that it is not a priority.

In his earlier reply to me the Minister made the point that there is a need for long-term planning in regard to Dublin Airport. How are the plans in regard to the appointment of the independent competent authority for noise regulation progressing, which process up to now has been bad? The Minister failed to mention earlier if he stands by his decision to appoint Fingal County Council as the competent authority and how many other countries have appointed a local authority to be the independent competent authority. Will the most recent timeframe of the end of this year for the independent competent authority to be put on a statutory basis be adhered to?

On Deputy Troy's questions, I have no hesitation in saying that I stand by the appointment of Fingal County Council as the independent competent authority. The necessary legislation should be introduced this month. We believe we will deliver on schedule. There is no slippage in the timetable.

There is slippage.

We will deliver by March 2021 and the runway will be in operation by the end of 2021 as envisaged.

On Deputy Eamon Ryan's question, to which I did respond earlier, the consultants were told that in making their report they should consider everything in line with Government policy and that any recommendations they made could not contradict that policy.

What is the policy on climate change?

That is a very reasonable assertion for them to make.

On Deputy Munster's question, there will be opposition. There will be parties who will not be in favour of it and there will be others who are. I have met several groups of people. In recent months - I do not know how recently - I met representatives of virtually all of the airlines. I met the McEvaddy brothers two years ago and I have not seen them since.

Is the Minister sure about that?

I met the airlines more recently and I meet the DAA frequently. All their views, if they wish to make them known during the public consultation, will be taken into account. There will have to be a legitimate procurement process if this goes ahead, but that has not even been decided on. What we are doing at present is consulting on the basis of this report, which makes various suggestions as to whether or not to have an independent terminal.

May I ask-----

No, the Deputy may not ask a further question.

Did the Minister-----

I call Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan. Other Deputies have been waiting.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

-----say he is sure he has not met the McEvaddy brothers in the past two years?

I would like to put my question now, please.

Deputy O'Sullivan has the floor.

That is on the record of the House now. Is the Minister happy with that?

Road Traffic Legislation

Questions (68)

Maureen O'Sullivan


68. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views as to whether the laws relating to horse-drawn vehicles and-or carriages are in need of review and strengthening. [45523/18]

View answer

Oral answers (8 contributions) (Question to Transport)

My question to the Minister relates to horse-drawn carriages and vehicles and whether the laws relating to them are in need of review and strengthening.

I thank Deputy O'Sullivan. As she may be aware, some local authorities develop by-laws to license horse-drawn carriages operating commercially. Through by-laws, these local authorities set their own rules and stipulations to govern such operations. It is under Part 19 of the Local Government Act 2001 that local authorities are provided with the power to make by-laws.

In most counties there seems to have been little demand and by-laws are not in place, while in other areas the matter is more relevant. For example, in Kerry, where there is a long tradition of jarvey operation, by-laws have been adopted to regulate the operation of these horse-drawn hackney carriages. Dublin City Council also made by-laws in 2011 for the same purpose and under the same legislative provisions. My Department has very recently had sight of a note prepared by the Dublin City Council law agent which gives the view that the city council has no legal basis on which to make such by-laws and indicates that such powers may rest instead, under the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853 to 1855, inclusive, with the Commissioners of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, to which the Garda is the successor.

While I am currently of the view that these matters should normally be managed at local government level, I will now ensure that this matter is given due consideration by my Department. I will task the Department with engaging with relevant stakeholders, including An Garda Síochána and Dublin City Council, and to seek separate legal advice if this is deemed necessary. Depending on the outcome, there may be a requirement to amend or repeal legislation to ensure an appropriate, modern regulatory framework is in place.

I believe the Deputy's concerns may relate in particular to animal welfare issues. As she may know, the Animal Welfare Act 2013 provides powers to gardaí and authorised officers to deal with issues of animal welfare. The animal welfare legislation comes within the ambit of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

As the Deputy knows, during consideration of the Road Traffic Bill 2016, Dáil Éireann accepted an amendment proposed by Deputy Munster to provide for the regulation of certain passenger transporters, including rickshaws and horse-drawn carriages. The amendment was passed and became section 31 of the Road Traffic Act 2016.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

I subsequently took legal advice on the implications of Deputy Munster's amendment prior to commencing those provisions. Following receipt of this advice, I decided not to commence section 31. The legal risk associated with the provision was deemed unacceptably high, with a strong likelihood that any regulations made under the provisions could be challenged and ultimately struck down.

I thank the Minister. I know my question related to reviewing and strengthening the by-laws but I realised when I looked at the matter that there are not many regulations in place in respect of this industry. Like the Minister, I saw the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853 to 1855, inclusive, leading to the Dublin Carriage Bye-Laws 1946 and then a Road Traffic Act in 1961, which states that "regulations [may be made] in relation to the use of vehicles in public places". Then, in 2012, the Road Safety Authority amended the definition of "vehicles" to include animal-drawn vehicles. Then we come to the Road Traffic Act 2016, which states that the National Transport Authority, NTA, may make regulations under the Taxi Regulation Act 2013 in respect of horse-propelled hackney carriages. The Minister mentioned section 31, but that has not yet commenced. From what I have been reading, there appears to be a big gap here and it comes from concerns over animal welfare. I know there are owners who look after their horses very well, but there is no doubt but that there are concerns. Could the Minister consider an amendment to cover this issue as part of his deliberations regarding legislation on rickshaws?

I do not want to make any promises on that because this has taken me by surprise. I do not want suddenly to make the mistake Deputy Munster made, which was to put a wrong amendment in a wrong Act, as a result of which it was legally questionable. I will, however, look at the possibility of a repeal. This document has taken my Department and me very much by surprise. I think it was only drawn to our attention last week. We will bring together the stakeholders to consider the matter. The key points, which should be put on the record, are that some local authorities develop by-laws to license horse-drawn carriages operating commercially under Part 19 of the Local Government Act 2001. However, by-laws may not be made under the 2001 Act where powers exist elsewhere in legislation, which is, I believe, the position in this case. Since 2011, Dublin City Council has made by-laws under the 2001 Act to allow licensing of horse-drawn carriages and, in doing so, took over those functions from the Garda in the Dublin city area. In the past, the Garda licensed horse-drawn carriages in Dublin under the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853 to 1855, inclusive. As the Deputy will know, it has now come to light that these powers under these Victorian Acts still exist.

The Minister has significantly exceeded the allocated time.

I very much welcome that the Minister will have a consultation on this and engage with the relevant stakeholders. I ask that the animal welfare groups, particularly those that are engaged with horse welfare, also be invited to attend and give their views on this. It seems to be one of those areas that fall between a number of groups. The NTA has some responsibility, the local authority has some responsibility, and now there is the Government. I do not want to see the kind of bouncing of the ball there was between the local authority and the Government over rickshaws happen in this case. As the Minister said, we have now drawn attention to the fact that whereas the local authority may issue licences, there are other aspects besides licences that need to be looked at. I hope we can start this engagement sooner rather than later.

Dublin City Council has told my Department how this came about. It had legal advice that it was legal and appropriate for it to make these by-laws but during a review of the 2011 by-laws, the council's law agent provided legal advice that since the 19th century Dublin Carriages Acts had not been repealed, there was no legal basis for the council to make by-laws for horse-drawn carriages. I will ensure that this matter is given due consideration, including further engagement with An Garda Síochána, Dublin City Council and others mentioned by the Deputy and the seeking of separate legal advice if that is deemed necessary. Depending on the outcome, there may be a requirement to amend or repeal legislation, upon which we will act if necessary. It should be said that it seems clear that the council acted in good faith when it made its by-laws in 2011. Following legal advice, it has very recently raised the matter formally with my Department. I will ensure that the matter is given due consideration.

If Deputy O'Sullivan is satisfied, we will move to the next question, in the name of Deputy Catherine Martin, to be taken by Deputy Eamon Ryan.

Cycling Policy

Questions (69)

Catherine Martin


69. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason he is not implementing the majority of the actions set out in the national cycle policy framework. [45644/18]

View answer

Oral answers (44 contributions) (Question to Transport)

The Minister is forever saying he does not have responsibility for anything, but I believe he is the person responsible for the implementation of the national cycle policy framework. Unfortunately, we set ourselves the target that by 2020, 10% of all trips will be made by bike. In fact, the proportion of trips made by bike stands at less than 3%. Nothing is happening. Safe routes to schools, demonstration towns and major infrastructure are not being developed and not a single cycle project is under way. When will we start taking cycling seriously? When will the Minister ensure that in his Department, in his job, the existing policy to promote cycling is actually implemented? Nothing is happening.

I reject Deputy Ryan's assertions, which fly in the face of the evidence. He repeats a mantra I have heard from him so often that I do not expect him to reverse on it in the face of the evidence. I expect instead that he will keep saying it in order that some people will believe him.

I am somewhat surprised by the Deputy's claim that the majority of actions under the national cycle policy framework are not being implemented. As he will appreciate, the economic and financial crisis which accompanied the publication of the framework in 2009 had an impact on the levels of public expenditure available, but that is very different from asserting that implementation is not ongoing. Similarly, the Deputy will also appreciate that the economic and financial situation today is vastly different from that of 2009 and subsequent years.

As Minister, I have secured significantly improved multi-annual funding until 2021 for active travel measures which will be used to support the ongoing implementation of the framework. This improved funding includes €110 million specifically dedicated to cycling and walking infrastructure in our major urban areas; €135 million for sustainable urban transport measures; and €750 million towards the BusConnects programme in Dublin, which will include delivery of approximately 200 km of segregated cycling lanes, where possible.

That is pretty good. I do not know what Deputy Eamon Ryan has to complain about there. It is just not enough for him.

It is one hell of an improvement. We also have €53 million to support the development of new greenways in more rural areas, in line with the recently published greenways strategy. The national cycling framework contains 19 objectives with 109 supporting actions. All of these have been developed against the six broad themes of planning and infrastructure, communication and education, financial resources, legislation and enforcement, people and evaluation and effects. As the Deputy will be aware, a range of bodies are responsible for the implementation of the various actions. These include my Department, Government Departments, local authorities and the NTA, but I recognise, obviously, my Department’s overarching responsibility for the policy area.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

I believe that, notwithstanding the constrained funding available across all areas of Government spending in the years immediately after the framework’s publication, collectively we have made real progress in implementing actions in support of the framework's objectives. For example, in terms of planning and infrastructure, implementation has seen the development of a design manual for urban roads and streets and the national cycle manual which apply international best practice to design, provision and maintenance of cycle lanes, the funding of the smarter travel areas and active travel towns programmes which saw significant investment in infrastructure in towns around the country, the integration of the framework within development plans, the publication of the greater Dublin area cycle network plan in 2013, and the establishment of public bike schemes in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

In the area of communication and education, implementation of the framework since 2009 has witnessed the establishment and roll-out of the green schools programme, the establishment and ongoing support of the annual bike week, the establishment and roll-out of Cycle Right, the national cycle training programme, to primary schools throughout the country, and the establishment and continued support of the smarter travel workplace and campus programmes in big companies and third level institutes.

As regards funding, as I have acknowledged, the economic and financial crisis of a decade ago meant that funding in those early years was not available at the level that would have been hoped for when developing the strategy. That is now behind us, however, and increased levels of funding are available and are being allocated through the NTA to local authorities.

In the area of legislation, I have brought through a number of proposals such as the Road Traffic Act 2016, which allows for 20 km/h speed limits to be set by local authorities in residential areas, while on the minimum passing distance my Department is engaging with the Office of the Attorney General with a view to implementing alternative solutions which are legally robust. I expect that legislation to be in place before the end of the year.

If we look at outcomes, we see increased numbers of commuters using the bike to get to work, not just in Dublin where the cycling share has increased from 3.7% in 2006 to 7.6% in 2016 but at a national level also. That is a positive sign and one we will look to build upon in the coming years. I have given the foregoing just as a snapshot of actions taken under the framework so that the Deputy can see that progress has been made and that implementation is ongoing.

There is not a single person with an interest in this issue who would think the way we are managing the promotion of cycling is working. I do not think there is a single person who would side with the Minister in this argument. I could go down through a litany of examples of actions. The Liffey cycle route was in planning for six years. The financial crash had nothing to do with it not going ahead. It was a lack of political will and that is coming from the centre, in part from the Minister's Department and in part from his own office. In regard to College Green plaza, the problem was a traffic management plan done by An Bord Pleanála that was still based on an incredibly car-centred system. On safe routes to cycle to school, Finglas councillors voted against putting in such provisions in regard to new schools despite it being policy in the new national development plan. The Minister and his Department did nothing about it. That was in the past two years. The proposal for a south Dublin cycleway, which would have really promoted cycling on the south side of the city, was again blocked-----

The Deputy will have another opportunity.

-----and the Minister and his Department did nothing about it. There is not a single cycling project being built. Nothing is happening.

I do not know. I sometimes give up. Deputy Eamon Ryan has a lot to complain about because nothing is ever quite right. When progress is made, he does not acknowledge it but other people do. People who are keen advocates of cycling do so. The Velo-City conference is coming to Dublin next year. Is that right?

That is right.

It is organised by the European Cyclists' Federation. Is that right?

That is correct.

The director of that series of conferences, after choosing to come to Dublin, said that Dublin is a great example of a city moving towards a more liveable, safe and active environment for its citizens. I accept that plaudit. I accept that others, apart from Deputy Eamon Ryan, recognise that we in Ireland have bought into the cycling story.

We are doing things because the percentage of cyclists as commuters is going up. We have committed to 200 km of dedicated segregated cycle lanes in the future.

I call Deputy Eamon Ryan for his second supplementary question.

We are doing-----

We have to move on.

-----many of the things that Deputy Eamon Ryan was advocating back in 2009.

I call Deputy Eamon Ryan for his second supplementary question. The Minister will have another opportunity.

If we were at 10% of all trips on bikes, I would say that was fine and that something was happening, but we are not. There is a major pent-up demand that would mean cycling would take off if we had some political leadership. I will be honest. There is real embarrassment in the cycling community about the prospect of Velo-City 2019. I have been to it and it is a great conference but we now have the embarrassing situation of Velo-City 2019 coming here when nothing, and I mean nothing, is happening on the ground.

I hope it might steer a change in the Minister's mind and in his Department that our ambition must be scaled up. Scaling up our ambition would bring all sorts of benefits. I refer to economic, environmental, social and health benefits. The truth, however, is that there are more schoolgirls driving themselves to school than cycling at the moment. The conditions on the roads in this city and in every other city in the country are atrocious. The Minister needs to do something about it rather than pretending it is all going fine.

I call Deputy Troy for a supplementary question.

If the Minister engaged with cycling activists nationally, they would not praise the work he is doing. Since Deputy Ross became the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the funding for cycling infrastructure went from €19 million in 2015 to €8 million in 2018, according to the Minister's written reply which he sent to me. I see the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, coming into the House. She might be interested to know that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, promised in February of this year that the statutory instrument in respect of the minimum passing distance for cycling would come in immediately. Has he signed it? If he has not, when will he?

I thank Deputy Troy for his question. I will repeat to Deputy Eamon Ryan that he can go to whomever he likes but Velo-City has chosen Dublin for the cycling conference. It has applauded Dublin-----

It was the Green Party-----

-----as a city which is going in the right direction with cycling. It may be inconvenient for Deputy Eamon Ryan but when he set out on that road in 2009, which is what he or his colleague mentioned, he was sitting in Government at the time bankrupting the country.

The reason that it could not be implemented-----


-----as quickly as possible, is because Deputy Eamon Ryan and his Fianna Fáil friends were in government together as the country was going down the financial tubes.

Deputy Ross was waxing lyrical.

It could never have been afforded. What we are doing-----

Appoint Seánie FitzPatrick as Governor of the Central Bank. Who suggested that?

-----is acknowledging happily that the plan produced by Deputy Eamon Ryan when he was in government was a very good one.

Nothing has been done about it.

The Green Party in government was good at one thing and that was producing plans. It could not, unfortunately, deliver on anything at all.

We are going to move on to the final question.

I have no doubt-----

What about the minimum passing distance?

-----Deputy Eamon Ryan has his ambitions to get his chance again, and perhaps he will.

I ask the Minister to concentrate on the question regarding the minimum passing distance.

I have told Deputy Troy the answer to that question.

It has been answered.

Will the Minister tell the House?

We will be replacing that with a dangerous overtaking offence.

Tourism Funding

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website

Questions (70)

Oral answers (10 contributions) (Question to Transport)

We will move on, and it looks as if this will be the final question. It will be the question, one supplementary and one answer.

Robert Troy


70. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way in which the additional €35 million committed in Budget 2019 to provide targeted support to the tourism sector will be spent. [45629/18]

View answer

I will let the Minister go ahead straight away.

The Minister will proceed with Question No. 70 without introduction.

Is this the question from Deputy Troy on the spending of €35 million?

Yes, that is it.

The breakdown of the total Exchequer provision for tourism services by subhead will be available in the Revised Estimates Volume, REV, for public services which will be published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It is not possible to provide details of the specific amounts allocated to the various subheads within the Vote in advance of the publication of the Revised Estimates Volume. I am delighted to have secured a 26% increase in funding for the tourism sector in budget 2019, which represents the largest increase in the tourism budget in 15 years. This increased funding will allow Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland to continue to grow tourism regionally and across the seasons in line with key policy objectives.

Brexit has already had an impact on tourism, and funding has been allocated to the tourism agencies to ensure that the tourism sector is Brexit ready. In this context, Fáilte Ireland will implement a programme which places a focus on retaining business from Northern Ireland and Britain while also offering supports to enterprises to equip them for the post-Brexit marketplace. Tourism Ireland will implement the recommendations of a recent review of its operations in the British market and extend the regional co-operative market access scheme.

The increase in the tourism marketing fund will also enable Tourism Ireland to begin implementing growth strategies in new and emerging markets, along with Germany and the USA, in line with the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 strategy. Tourism Ireland will also be able to increase its investment in digital tourism marketing.

As well as helping meet the challenge of Brexit, additional funding secured for Fáilte Ireland in budget 2019 will help to build resilience into the industry through a multi-strand programme of specific industry supports, festivals and events and targeted marketing campaigns. In line with the national development plan, NDP, the capital allocation to Fáilte Ireland for tourism product development has been increased to enhance tourist attractions and Ireland's activity-based offering.

The development and sustainability of Irish tourism will be further supported by funding targeted at growing high-yielding event and business tourism. This includes provision to support Ireland’s hosting of Euro 2020 matches and, in particular, related promotional activities to be undertaken in 2019.

Extra funding has also been allocated to greenways for 2019. This will be drawn down by projects that are successful under the current funding call which closes on 30 November 2018. It is planned to allocate greenways funding in 2019, following assessment of the applications.

The increase arises because the Minister failed to retain the favourable VAT rate for the hospitality sector. He blamed everybody else instead of taking responsibility for the failure. The additional €35 million is welcome but this year's budget of €135 is still far below the €153 million it was in 2008. There is a way to come. When the Minister considers how to spend the additional money, will he engage with the key stakeholders, including Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation, Bed and Breakfast Ireland, as well as representatives of the museums and cultural institutions, to see where the money can be best spent? We need to increase our marketing budget in existing and emerging markets, and we must consider how we will tackle the shortages in key personnel that are having a major impact on our tourism industry. Before the Minister allocates this, it is critical that he engages with the key stakeholders: they know where additional money must be allocated and we will get a better return on the €35 million investment as a result.

It is appropriate to say there is one thing about which Deputy Troy and I agree. That is that the tourism agencies, Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, have done a spectacularly good job. As Deputy Troy is aware, tourism figures are improving and continue to defy gravity, despite the effects of Brexit, one of which was a plunge in the value of sterling. The numbers of visitors year on year from the United Kingdom are up, which is an extraordinary achievement, and that must be put down, partly at least, to the amazing efforts being made by both our tourism agencies. I am delighted to be able to take this opportunity to say that the tourism industry continues to boom. I accept the Deputy's congratulations on that and it is very appropriate that he should send those congratulations to those responsible for it.

The Minister had nothing to do with it. It is happening despite him.

I know the Deputy regrets this but his own area of the country is benefitting from it as well, as he knows. The tourism agencies have embraced very widely the idea put forward so eloquently by one of his colleagues, Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran. They have embraced the idea and it will run hard. It will be part of the continued success of the Irish tourism boom.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.