Irish Coast Guard Issues

Questions (544)

Robert Troy

Question:

544. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the funding provided to each helicopter base for the Irish Coast Guard for each of the past five years by purpose and supplier paid. [16562/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department pays CHCI DAC, under contract, for a search and rescue service which is based on a 4 base model. My Department does not pay for bases separately. The cost to CHCI for use of these bases is a commercial matter between the company and the airports involved.

Rail Network Maintenance

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (545)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

545. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if Irish Rail has a timeline for when it will agree and sign off on a bridge (details supplied) with Kildare County Council. [16571/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding of public transport.  Issues relating to infrastructure, such as the bridge referred to by the Deputy, are an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann.

In view of Iarnród Éireann's responsibility in this matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Improvement Schemes

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (546)

Micheál Martin

Question:

546. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Cork city and county has the worst record of road repair nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16580/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of local authorities, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Within the budget available to the Department, grant funding is allocated on as fair and equitable basis as possible. In this context, grants in the main grant categories are allocated based on the length of regional and local roads within a local authority area of responsibility, with account taken where appropriate of the local authority's own resources in terms of rates and other income. It is a matter for each Council to determine its priorities and decide its work programme taking available grant funding and its own resources into account.  In this context I continue to emphasise to local authorities the importance of prioritising roads when allocating their own resources.

While there were major cuts in grant funding for the road network during the recession, there have been significant increases in grants in recent years.  In this context Cork County has been allocated regional and local road grant funding of €50,465,240 in 2019 and Cork City has been allocated €8,288,800.

In relation to national roads, as Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design, operation and improvement of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

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

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Transport Policy

Questions (547)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

547. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way in which the €200 million cost of the Galway transport strategy over ten years addresses the urgent need to rebalance investment towards mass transport solutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16594/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the transport strategy for Galway City was prepared by Galway City Council and Galway County Council in 2016 in partnership with the National Transport Authority.  The strategy set out an overall framework for the development of transport infrastructure and services in Galway City and its environs over a twenty year period.  Implementation of the Strategy is primarily a matter for the local authorities in line with their statutory roles and responsibilities.

The National Development Plan 2018-2027 proposes to deliver a BusConnects programme for Galway and provides an indicative allocation of €200 million to support this development.  The Galway Transport Strategy considered that bus-based public transport represents the most appropriate system for Galway over the period of the transport strategy.  It concluded that a high-quality bus-based public transport service will cater for the forecasted passenger demand and will provide significant flexibility in terms of network options and the ability to integrate with other modes.

Galway BusConnects will deliver a rationalised network of five high-performing cross city routes.  All routes will serve major city centre attractions as well as linking all major destinations across the city.  The programme will comprise next generation bus lanes, enhanced services, cashless fares and account-based ticketing.  As the Deputy is aware, a network of park and ride sites, serviced by the more efficient bus network, will also be put in place. 

Dublin Bus Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (548)

Robert Troy

Question:

548. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the annual cost of running the Nitelink bus service for each of the past four years with reference to the number of such routes that were operational at the time in tabular form. [16604/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Dublin Bus 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 response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Cycling Facilities Funding

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Question No. 550 answered with Question No. 541.

Questions (549)

Robert Troy

Question:

549. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the cost of creating existent dublinbikes docking stations; and the estimated cost of constructing an additional dublinbikes station. [16605/19]

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. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure, including cycling infrastructure.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A
Question No. 550 answered with Question No. 541.

Smarter Transport

Questions (551)

Robert Troy

Question:

551. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the capital expenditure from 1 January 2019 to 31 March 2019 under the heading of B8.1 smarter travel sustainable urban transport. [16658/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, funding provided under this subhead is in relation to capital expenditure programmes and is part of a multi-annual capital funding programme.

The timing of expenditure on programmes such as this is by its nature dependent on a number of variables and therefore monthly or quarterly expenditure must be viewed within that context.

It is the case that each year the majority of funding is drawndown toward the year end and overall reporting on programme expenditure is then made available through the Department's publicly available annual Appropriation Accounts and related reports to, and appearances before, the Oireachtas.

Cycling Facilities Data

Questions (552)

John Curran

Question:

552. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the new and additional cycle routes approved to go to construction in Dublin in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16692/19]

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. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), including cycling infrastructure.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred your question to the NTA for a more detailed reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Greenways Funding

Questions (553)

Robert Troy

Question:

553. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason no funding has been allocated to construct security fencing along the greenway at Altown, Garrycastle, Athlone, County Westmeath despite repeated promises to Westmeath County Council of same; and his plans to ensure that this funding is made available without delay to provide protection for the residents in this area. [16724/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Funding is provided by my Department for the construction of Greenways and it is important that local authorities consider all aspects when submitting an application for funding. 

Funding for security fencing along the Greenway at Altown, Garrycastle, Athlone, Co. Westmeath is a matter for Westmeath County Council. I understand that a request for funding for fencing among a number of other items was made three years ago, however it was not granted at the time.

I am not aware of this issue having been raised again since then with my Department.  

Road Improvement Schemes

Questions (554)

Tom Neville

Question:

554. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to fund all proposed low-cost safety improvement projects for roads in County Limerick as proposed by Limerick City and County Council; the planned date for sanctioning of funding for such projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16736/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. 

My Department sought applications in September 2018 for funding of safety improvement works on regional and local roads to be carried out by local authorities during 2019.  The schemes for inclusion in the application are decided by the local authorities.  Allocations are made by the Department taking into account the terms applying to the Scheme and the available budget for the grant programme.  

Limerick City and County Council submitted 11 projects for funding under the Safety Improvement Scheme in 2019 and 9 were approved for funding.  A total grant of €358,000 was allocated for these safety improvement schemes on 1st February 2019. 

It is also open to local authorities to fund safety improvement schemes from the Discretionary Grant or from their own resources. 

Youth Services Funding

Questions (555)

John Brassil

Question:

555. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the review of the youth service grant scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16030/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

These schemes include the Youth Service Grant Scheme under which funding is made available on an annual basis to thirty national and major regional youth organisations. This funding is intended to ensure the emergence, promotion, growth and development of youth organisations with distinctive philosophies and programmes aimed at the social education of young people. In 2019, I provided an additional 2.5% in funding to this scheme, bringing the total allocation to over €11m. 

My Department has commenced a review of the Youth Service Grant Scheme. This review is intended to modernise the scheme to enhance accountability, transparency and outcome measurement. It is also seeking to ensure the scheme responds to the ever-evolving needs of young people.

Engagement with the National Youth Council of Ireland and the youth sector is a key priority for DCYA. Twice annually I meet with National Youth Organisations in receipt of YSGS funding. My officials avail of these meetings to update the organisations of the progress to date and our broad intentions of the review process. The next meeting is scheduled for 11th April. The review includes annual finance and governance meetings with the organisations in receipt of the largest YSGS grants and desktop reviews to inform the development of the reform programme. The work of the review is ongoing, and my Department is committed to ongoing consultation with the youth sector in relation to this review.

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

Questions (556, 557)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

556. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of adults and children who spent time in Tusla funded domestic violence refuge and step-down accommodation in 2018; and the average length of time these families spent in emergency accommodation. [16074/19]

View answer

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

557. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of women and children turned away from Tusla funded domestic violence refuges in each of the years 2016 to 2018 due to a lack of capacity. [16075/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 556 and 557 together.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has responsibility for the provision of funding, co-ordination and support to 22 organisations which provide emergency refuge and emergency non-refuge accommodation to victims of domestic violence and their children. A refuge facility in South Dublin which has been temporarily closed for essential refurbishment works is expected to re-open as a domestic violence refuge in Quarter 2 of this year. In total, 155 family units of emergency accommodation are provided - 145 in emergency refuges and 10 in emergency non-refuge accommodation.  

Information on the number of adults and children that spent time in Tusla funded emergency domestic violence refuge accommodation and emergency non-refuge accommodation, and the average length of time spent in emergency accommodation, is collected retrospectively. Tusla has advised that this information for 2018 is not yet available but will be finalised later this year.

Tusla also advises that it does not have comprehensive data with regard to the number of women and children whom Tusla funded domestic violence refuges were unable to accommodate in each of the years 2016 to 2018. 

Tusla has advised that victims may seek emergency refuge accommodation from more than one service on any one occasion before their accommodation needs are met. In some cases, inquiries may be conducted before it is established that the individual or family requires emergency accommodation. 

Refuges that are unable to meet the needs of individuals and families who require emergency accommodation make every effort to ensure that they are safe.

There are challenges in ensuring that there is an appropriate configuration of spaces available to all individuals and families who require emergency refuge accommodation.

It is important to note that Tusla seeks to achieve the optimum use of emergency accommodation while also focusing on prevention and effective community-based services to avoid, in so far as possible, the need for use of refuges or emergency non-refuge accommodation by vulnerable women and children.

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

Questions (558, 559)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

558. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of Tusla funded refuge places available in Dublin for 2019. [16076/19]

View answer

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

559. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of Tusla funded refuge places available in each county for 2019, in tabular form. [16077/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 558 and 559 together.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has responsibility for the provision of funding, co-ordination and support to 21 organisations which provide emergency refuge and emergency non-refuge accommodation to victims of domestic violence and their children.

In addition to this, Tusla maintains a domestic violence refuge in South Dublin, which has been temporarily closed for essential refurbishment works. This facility is expected to re-open as a domestic violence refuge in Quarter 2 this year. In total, 155 family units of emergency accommodation are provided - 145 in emergency domestic violence refuges and 10 in emergency non-refuge accommodation.   

A family unit in emergency accommodation is generally used to accommodate a single family, i.e. one woman and her accompanying children and dependent adults. However, services may reconfigure room arrangements to suit the number, age and gender of family members. At times, two unaccompanied women may be asked to share a family unit.

The following table outlines the number of Tusla funded family units in refuges available in Dublin, and the number of Tusla funded family units in refuges available in each county for 2019, in tabular form.

Table 1: Location and number of emergency refuge and emergency non-refuge accommodation family units

County

Emergency Refuges Funded By Tusla

 No. of Units

Clare

Clarehaven Services

 6

Cork

Cuanlee Refuge

 6

Donegal

Donegal Domestic Violence Services 

 4

Dublin

Saoirse Women's Refuge, Tallaght

 6

Dublin

Sonas, Dublin

 15*

Dublin

Aoibhneas Women & Children's Refuge, Coolock

 10

Dublin 

Rathmines Women's Refuge (Operated by Tusla)

 9**

Galway

COPE Galway

 6

Kerry

ADAPT Kerry Ltd.

 6

Kildare

Teach Tearmainn Refuge

 4

Kilkenny

Amber Women's Refuge, Kilkenny

 7

Limerick

ADAPT Domestic Abuse Service, Limerick

 14

Louth

Drogheda Women's and Children's Refuge Centre

 11

Louth

Women's Aid Dundalk

 5

Mayo

Mayo Women's Support Services Refuge

 5

Meath

Meath Women's Refuge and Support Services

 5

Sligo

Women's Domestic Violence Service

 3***

Tipperary

Cuan Saor Women's Refuge And Support Services, Clonmel

 4

Waterford

Oasis House Women's Refuge

 14

Westmeath

Esker House Women's Refuge And Support Services, Athlone

 4

Wexford

Wexford Women's Refuge

 4

Wicklow

Bray Women's Refuge

 7

Total

 

 155

Explanatory Text on Table

*The overall figure of 15 includes 8 family units of emergency refuge accommodation, and 7 family units of emergency non-refuge accommodation.

**As Rathmines Women's Refuge has temporarily closed, the availability of these units is currently on hold. The facility is expected to re-open as a domestic violence refuge in Quarter 2 of this year.

***These 3 units are provided in the form of emergency non-refuge accommodation only.

Early Childhood Care and Education Funding

Questions (560)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

560. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding allocated for the early learning and care and social age childcare capital programme in each of the years 2017 to 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16235/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I am committed to ensuring childcare is affordable, accessible and of a high quality. Significant progress has been made in this regard, with an increase in investment in this area of 117% over the past four budgets (increasing from €265 m in 2015 to nearly €574 m in budget 2019).

Within these four budgets, a significant amount of Exchequer funding was made available for childcare providers, whether privately run or operated by community or not for profit groups, to apply for Early Learning and Care and School Aged Capital grants.

The creation of new early learning and care and school age places continues to be of utmost priority for my Department. Capital funding is aimed at increasing the capacity of services, creating new services and maintaining and improving existing services.

In previous years my Department has invested greatly in both privately run or community/not for profit pre-school providers in creating and maintaining Early Childhood Care and Education places within their services.

This year my Department has focused the funding of the 2019 Early Learning and Care and School Age Capital programme with the expansion of early learning and care places for 0-3 year olds and school age childcare places where this is most needed.

I expect that this year's capital allocation will build on progress achieved in previous years, and as always there has been great interest in the funding.

The following table sets out the funding allocated in 2017 and 2018. The appraisals for the 2019 round of capital grants have only begun so no applications have yet been approved for funding. The 2019 Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Capital Programme will provide €6.106 million in grants for service providers.

Year

Early Years Capital

School Age Capital

Total

2017

€7,538,670.15

€3,448,742.82

€10,987,412.97

2018

€5,412,908.51

€854,511.40

€6,267,419.91

2019

€5,106,000

€1,000,000

 €6,106,000

The Deputy should also note that a further capital allocation of €3m has been made in 2019 in respect of the new National Childcare Scheme.

Childcare Costs

Questions (561)

Niall Collins

Question:

561. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the low subsidy available for working families for crèche fees; her plans to amend the scheme to offer more assistance regarding same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16297/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

In recent years, I have secured significantly increased investment in early learning and care (ELC) and school age childcare (SAC). The annual investment towards high quality, affordable ELC and SAC has risen to €574m, which represents an increase of  117% since 2015.

The significant increase in supports I announced in April 2017 represented a major step towards accessible, affordable and quality ELC and SAC after decades of neglect and under-investment by successive Governments. These increases reflect my ambition to support quality ELC and SAC services with appropriately supported staff.

As part of the Government policy to make childcare more affordable, I  introduced new measures in September 2017 (September Measures) aimed at improving access to quality, affordable childcare for families in the interim until the introduction of the National Childcare Scheme. 

The September Measures included the universal childcare subvention payment (CCSU) of up to €20 per week for families using eligible childcare providers for the care of children aged from 6 months to the first eligible point of entry to the ECCE scheme.  This non-means tested support amounts to as much as €1,040 per year for children in full-time childcare.  The total number of children who availed of CCSU in the 2017/2018 programme year (between September 2017 and August 2018) was 39,319. Almost two thirds of services (65% or 2,188) that had CCSP contracts, had at least one child registered under CCSU.

To date 33,410 children have availed of CCSU in the current (2018/2019) year.

The September Measures also included an average 50% increase to the band rates of the CCS/CCSP targeted schemes.  In 2017/18 36,367 children benefitted from the targeted CCS strands (CCS and CCSP) compared to 24,715 in 2016/17.  This was an increase of 47% on the previous year.  The growth in the number of registrations and participating children is associated directly with the increase investment in the early year’s sector.  For the period September 2019 to June 2018 the value of the registrations amounted to €363,691,841.  These increases were considerable and significantly decreased the amount of payment required of low income families or parents in education or training.

These changes are waypoints towards our goal to deliver genuine affordable, accessible, quality ELC and SAC.

Furthermore, the National Childcare Scheme (NCS), which is a new, national scheme of financial support for parents towards the cost of childcare, will be significant move forward in delivering quality, accessible, affordable childcare to families throughout Ireland.  NCS will launch this October, with payments flowing from November. The Scheme entails a fundamental shift away from subsidies grounded in medical card and social protection entitlements, and towards a comprehensive and progressive system of universal and income-based subsidies that will benefit a much greater part of the population, and in particular working families.  It is a single, streamlined and user-friendly scheme which will ultimately replace the existing targeted childcare schemes. However, the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme will not be affected.

By making this shift and by tangibly reducing the cost of quality childcare for thousands of families across Ireland, the Scheme aims to improve children's outcomes, support lifelong learning, make work pay and reduce child poverty. It is also designed to have a positive impact on gender equality in relation to labour market participation and employment opportunities.

The Scheme has already been amended to expand the benefits for working families. As part of Budget 2019, the income threshold levels used for assessing the level of subsidy to which a parent may be entitled were raised.

The significant increase in the Scheme's maximum net income threshold from €47,000 to €60,000 per annum means that an estimated 7,500 more children will benefit from the scheme relative to the original proposals.  Over 40,000 other children, already eligible, will see increases to their subsidies.

I am also very pleased that I have managed to adjust the lower income threshold, meaning that maximum subsidy rates will now be paid to all families with a net annual income of up to €26,000 (up from €22,700). 

This ‘poverty proofs’ the Scheme by ensuring that families at or below the relative income poverty line will benefit from the very highest subsidy rates under the scheme. It will also make work pay for parents in employment or training as they will now be able to avail of help with their childcare costs.