Animal Slaughtering Standards

Questions (523)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

523. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to address the long outstanding issues regarding the mechanical grading and trimming of carcasses of slaughtered cattle in factories since reports of inaccuracies first emerged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25186/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Carcass classification and carcass presentation controls in slaughter plants are carried out by a dedicated team of specialist staff in the Beef Carcase Classification Section within my Department.

My Department has implemented additional monitoring of carcase presentation by veterinary public health inspection staff (VPHIS) in all factories since January 1st, 2019 and provides a supporting role for the Beef Carcase Classification staff. This should provide further assurance to stakeholders that the appropriate dressing specification is being applied in factories.

The controls applied in Ireland in the carcase classification and carcase trim areas are significantly in excess of those required under EU Law. Unannounced inspections are carried out by authorised officers of DAFM every 2 weeks approximately – the EU legislation requires 8 checks per year. Under the same EU legislation, each on-the-spot check shall relate to at least 40 carcases. DAFM exceeds this requirement at each inspection by assessing a minimum of 100 carcases where mechanical classification is installed or 50 carcases where only manual classification takes place.

My Department supervised a recent trial of the mechanical beef carcase classification system to examine the modification of the current classification technology. The trial will establish if enhanced technology, including digital cameras and LED lights, complies with the legislation in respect of accuracy and legal tolerances.

A classification expert from the Netherlands independently monitored the two year trial and produced a detailed report which is currently being reviewed and will be published in the near future on my Department's website.

Tuberculosis Eradication Programme

Questions (524)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

524. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the request raised to attend a forum in correspondence by an organisation (details supplied). [25201/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The TB Forum was established in mid-2018 and has held a number of meetings to date. The next TB Forum is scheduled for June 25th 2019.

It is envisaged that an Interim Report, based on discussions over the past number of months, is expected to issue shortly after the upcoming meeting. Part of the deliberations have focused on the principle of "Working in Partnership" as outlined in the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy. Reflecting that, the discussion papers issued in advance of establishing the TB Forum proposed enhanced governance arrangements with regular stakeholder meetings to monitor progress in eradicating bovine TB and considering amendments to the Programme, where appropriate.

Following receipt and consideration of the Interim Report, I will decide on the future workings of the Forum.

Basic Payment Scheme Applications

Questions (525)

Pat Breen

Question:

525. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 464 of 19 February 2019, the moneys due to be paid to a person (details supplied) in each of the years 2015 to 2018; when payment will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25235/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The updating of eligible commonage land for the person named has been completed recently. Following this update, the allocation of payment entitlements made to the person named from the 2015 National Reserve has also been updated to take account of the additional eligible land area.

The person named was notified in writing on 4th June 2019 of the additional allocation from the National Reserve and he was also notified in respect of the Young Farmers Scheme on which he is now also due to receive additional payment, based on the increased number of payment entitlements held for the years since 2015 following the review of his eligible land area.

Payment in respect of the increased allocation of payment entitlements from the National Reserve and also the additional payment for the Young Farmers Scheme have both issued on 14th June 2019 in respect of the 2018 scheme year. Payments in respect of the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 will issue in the coming weeks, when the Department has scheduled payments to issue in respect of those scheme years.

Departmental Properties

Questions (526)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

526. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of land purchased and leased by size and amount expended in the past five years to date; the location of same; the term of the lease and amount expended per year in cases in which land is leased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25377/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information is set out in the following tables.

2015

Amount of Land Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

3.15 hectares

Donegal

N/A

€ 4,236

Yearly

2016

Amount of Land Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

3.15 hectares

Donegal

N/A

€4,236

Yearly

2017

Amount of Land Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

3.10 hectares

Donegal

N/A

€4,168

Yearly

2018

Amount of Land Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

3.10 hectares

Donegal

N/A

€4,168

Yearly

2019

Amount of Land Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

3.10 hectares

Donegal

N/A

€4,168

Yearly

Departmental Properties

Questions (527)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

527. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of buildings and property purchased and leased and the amount expended in the past five years to date; the location of same; the term of the lease and the amount expended per year in cases in which properties are leased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25394/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information is set out in the following tables.

2015

Amount of Property Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

Office Accommodation

Mellows Campus Athenry

€100,000

5 years

Border Inspection Posts

Dublin Port Premises

€349,074

Terms with OPW

Agriculture Appeals Office

Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise

€84,051

Leased via OPW

Eircom Building Office

Portlaoise

€118,000

Leased via OPW

Potato Store

Donegal

€1,560

Yearly

2016

Amount of Property Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

Office Accommodation

Mellows Campus Athenry

€100,000

5 years

Pet Checking Facility

Rosslare Harbour

€6,000

4 years

Border Inspection Posts

Dublin Port Premises

€349,074

Terms with OPW

Agriculture Appeals Office

Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise

€84,051

Leased via OPW

Eircom Building Office

Portlaoise

€88,500

Leased via OPW

Potato Store

Donegal

€1,560

Yearly

2017

Amount of Property Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

Office Accommodation

Mellows Campus Athenry

€100,000

5 years

Pet Checking Facility

Rosslare Harbour

€6,000

4 years

Border Inspection Posts

Dublin Port Premises

€349,074

Terms with OPW

Agriculture Appeals Office

Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise

€84,051

Leased via OPW

Eircom Building Office

Portlaoise

€118,000

Leased via OPW

Potato Store

Donegal

€1,560

Yearly

2018

Amount of Property Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

Office Accommodation

Mellows Campus Athenry

€100,000

5 years

Pet Checking Facility

Rosslare Harbour

€6,000

4 years

Border Inspection Posts

Dublin Port Premises

€349,074

Terms with OPW

Agriculture Appeals Office

Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise

€84,051

Leased via OPW

Eircom Building Office

Portlaoise

€123,672

Leased via OPW

Potato Store

Donegal

€1,560

Yearly

2019

Amount of Land Purchased/ leased

Location

Cost of Purchase

Cost of Lease Per year

Term of Lease

Office Accommodation

Mellows Campus Athenry

€25,000*

5 years

Pet Checking

Rosslare Harbour

€3,000*

4 years

Border Inspection Posts

Dublin Port Premises

€87,268*

Terms with OPW

Agriculture Appeals Office

Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise

€63,038*

Leased via OPW

Eircom Building Office

Portlaoise

€105,517*

Leased via OPW

Potato Store

Donegal

€1,560

Yearly

*Paid in 2019 to date.

Aquaculture Licence Applications

Questions (528)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

528. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when aquaculture licences (details supplied) will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25487/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department considers applications for aquaculture licences in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable EU legislation. The licensing process involves consultation with a wide range of scientific and technical advisers as well as various Statutory Consultees. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation.

In accordance with the applicable legislation, the Statutory and Public Consultation phase in respect of the applications referred to by the Deputy is now concluded. Every effort is being made to expedite determinations in respect of these applications having regard to the complexities involved.

As these licence applications are under active consideration as part of a statutory process, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the matter at this time.

Rockall Island Ownership

Questions (529)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

529. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the implications of the agreement reached between Ireland and the United Kingdom in 2013 regarding the setting of the boundaries of the exclusive economic zone; if the agreement of 2013 has possible implications for the present difficulties between Ireland and Scotland regarding fishing rights around Rockall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25500/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that the position is as follows.The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the body of water that stretches from 12 nautical miles offshore out to a distance of 200 miles. The seabed beneath the EEZ is the continental shelf.

Largely due to efforts made by Ireland throughout the 1970s, international law is now clear that uninhabitable rocks such as Rockall have no entitlement to a continental shelf or an EEZ and so, sovereignty over such a rock is irrelevant for the purposes of establishing boundaries between continental shelves and EEZs of neighbouring States. Sovereignty and whether such a rock has a 12-mile territorial sea are separate issues that do not arise in establishing boundaries between continental shelves and EEZs.

The issue of Rockall therefore did not arise in the 2013 Agreement as it was not relevant.

The 2013 Agreement built on the 1988 Agreement between Ireland and the UK that had already established continental shelf boundaries and provides that those boundaries, slightly adjusted to ensure that no waters were lost to the high seas, shall also be the EEZ boundaries. This created a single maritime boundary between 12 and 200 miles in the water and on the seabed beneath.

As you are aware, Ireland has never made any claims to Rockall nor have we recognised British claims to sovereignty over it. Nothing in either Agreement altered that position or represented a departure from our long held view, nor does either Agreement have any implications for the present difficulties between Ireland and Scotland over fishing rights around Rockall.

As regards the situation following Brexit, the Irish and EU position, as set out in the March 2018 European Council Guidelines for negotiations on the future relationship, is that existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources should be maintained. The 2013 Agreement between Ireland and the UK is not relevant for access by EU vessels to UK waters in that context.

The main purpose of the 2013 Agreement was to resolve jurisdictional uncertainty. It addressed the situation of fishing vessels seeking to avoid inspection in Irish EEZ areas that overlapped with the UK-claimed areas. Importantly, however, it also provides the legal certainty necessary for raising finance to develop renewable energy projects in the areas concerned and it resolved confusion over responsibility for dealing with marine pollution incidents in those areas.

Television Licence Fee

Questions (530)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

530. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the full breakdown of the 85% of the licence fee that is directed to RTÉ in order for it to carry out its public service media commitments; the terms and conditions of the granting of the funds to RTÉ; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24864/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The principle objects of RTÉ are set out under Section 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the allocation of public funding in respect of television licence fee is established under Section 123 of the Act.

In addition to oversight by my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, RTÉ is subject to regulation by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. RTÉ is audited separately and independently by externally appointed auditors.

RTÉ is obliged under Section 101 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 to prepare a Public Service Statement within 12 months of the passing of the Act, and every 5 years thereafter. Every such statement is required to set out the principles to be observed and the activities to be undertaken by the corporation in order to fulfil its public service objects, as laid out in Section 114 of the Act.

RTE is required to comply fully with the 2016 Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, and also to prepare an annual statement of performance commitments which must be aligned with its public service statement and statement of strategy.

Taken with its statutory objects and any extant statement of strategy prepared under section 99 of the Act, the Public Service Statement informs the corporation's annual Statement of Performance Commitments. The extent to which the corporation has fulfilled its commitments under this Statement of Performance Commitments is reviewed on an annual and five yearly basis by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in accordance with section 124 and, on the basis of this review, the Authority is required to submit to me, as Minister, a report which is to include recommendations in regard to the adequacy of funding of the corporation.

The breakdown of licence fee funding allocated to RTÉ is published in the Annual Report and Accounts which are available on the RTÉ website at: www.RTE.ie. The Annual Report and Accounts for 2018 will be published shortly.

EU Directives

Questions (531)

Peter Burke

Question:

531. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the recast renewable energy Directive will be transposed into law; if it will be part of his forthcoming strategy to tackle climate change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25083/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Climate Action Plan, published on Monday this week, includes the following renewable energy actions:

- Move to 70% renewable electricity by 2030;

- Establish a new Micro-generation Scheme, allowing homeowners to generate their own electricity and sell what they don't use back to the national grid, and support increased community participation in renewable generation;

- Bring 950,000 electric vehicles onto our roads, deliver a nationwide charging network, consideration in 2020 of a car-scrappage scheme to promote the purchase of electric vehicles and legislation to ban the sale of petrol/diesel cars from 2030;

- Deliver an intensive programme of retrofitting to install 400,000 heat pumps in existing homes and businesses, replacing the existing carbon-intensive heating systems;

- Deliver a new Retrofit Plan to retrofit 500,000 homes, with large groups of houses being retrofitted by the same contractor to reduce costs, smart finance, and easy pay back methods;

- Mandate public bodies to prioritise climate action and new letters of expectation will issue to semi-state bodies on Climate Action.

The Climate Action Plan is available on my Department’s website: www.dccae.gov.ie.

The Plan sets out the necessary policy measures to help meet our 2030 targets, cut our reliance on fossil fuels and put Ireland on a clear pathway to meeting our 2050 objectives.

In November 2016 as part of the Clean Energy Package, the European Commission published a proposal for a recast Directive on the promotion of renewable energy sources thus providing a framework for renewable energy development to 2030. This new regulatory framework will pave the way for Europe's transition towards clean energy sources utilising various renewable technologies.

In June 2018, the Renewable Energy Directive was agreed at EU level and includes a binding renewable energy target for the Union of 32% by 2030. Member States must transpose the Directive into national legislation by 30 June 2021.

Ireland’s contribution to this target will be informed by the development of Ireland’s first integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP). In accordance with the Governance Regulation, Ireland’s draft NECP was submitted to the Commission in December 2018. The Governance Regulation consolidates the existing patchwork of planning, monitoring and reporting obligations Member States have under EU legislation across energy, climate and related policy areas.

Postal Codes

Questions (532)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

532. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the steps persons (details supplied) in County Kerry can take in order to obtain an Eircode; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25091/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Eircodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations. An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings. An Post GeoDirectory issues a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, in accordance with their licence agreement.

Each new postal address assigned an Eircode is published on the free to use Eircode Finder website, a notification letter is issued to the property occupant containing the Eircode of that address and an updated Eircode Database is provided to licensed businesses for their use. Eircode has informed my Department that 78,400 property addresses have been assigned an Eircode since the launch in 2015

My Department has requested Eircode to contact and liaise directly with the individuals in question regarding the assignment of an Eircode for this property.

In recognition of the fact that earlier assignment of Eircodes to new builds is desirable, my officials are working with An Post, Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi), An Post GeoDirectory and Capita to improve and expedite the existing process.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (533, 534, 535)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

533. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when fibre broadband will be rolled out at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25349/19]

View answer

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

534. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when fibre broadband will be rolled out at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25350/19]

View answer

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

535. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when fibre broadband will be rolled out at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25366/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 533 to 535, inclusive, together.

All three premises referenced by the Deputy are in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP.

This intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this.

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to the completion of contract close, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after that.

The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment. A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed.

In the first year of roll-out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations.

The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

Departmental Properties

Questions (536, 537)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

536. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount of land purchased and leased by size and amount expended in the past five years to date; the location of same; the term of the lease and amount expended per year in cases in which land is leased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25380/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

537. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of buildings and property purchased and leased and the amount expended in the past five years to date; the location of same; the term of the lease and the amount expended per year in cases in which properties are leased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25397/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 536 and 537 together.

My Department did not purchase any buildings or land in the last five years.

Two properties were leased in the period concerned, detail of which are contained in the following table.

Address

Size

Rent per annum

Duration of lease

Athlone Rd. Roscommon

780 m2

€25,000 ex VAT

3 years from March 2017

UCD, Belfield Dublin 4

126 m2

€50,400 ex VAT

3 years from April 2017

The property in Roscommon is used by Geological Survey Ireland, while the space leased from UCD is used by the National Cyber Security Centre.

All other properties occupied by the Department are managed by the OPW.

Mobile Telephony Services

Questions (538)

Martin Heydon

Question:

538. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the options available to a business in south County Kildare that have poor mobile phone coverage and reception; if he will address same; and the support which can be offered in this regard. [25457/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Providing telecommunications services, including mobile phone services, is a matter for the relevant service providers operating in a fully liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), as independent Regulator. I do not have statutory authority to require commercial companies to roll out services and make specific investments in particular locations. The ComReg consumer helpline is accessible at consumerline@comreg.ie and I would urge consumers who feel they have not received an appropriate response from service providers to make contact with the Regulator.

The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce worked with key stakeholders to produce a report in December 2016, available on my Department’s website, which contained 40 actions to alleviate some of the coverage deficits across the country. An Implementation Group is overseeing the implementation of the actions and comprises all key stakeholders responsible for delivery. The Implementation Group meets on a quarterly basis and publishes quarterly progress reports on the implementation status of actions.

Now in its third year of operation, the Taskforce has addressed over 60 actions and continues to focus on issues that are negatively impacting upon the roll-out of essential telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas. The outcome of discussions at the second Annual National Stakeholder Forum held in October 2018 informed preparation of the 2018 Annual Review Report, which was published on 21 February 2019 together with the 2019 Work Programme. Over 30 new actions are contained in the 2019 Work Programme for delivery this year.

Various measures are underway which will address mobile coverage deficits, particularly in rural areas such as south County Kildare:

- My Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development have worked to achieve a greater consensus around site selection for telecoms infrastructure and therefore improve mobile phone coverage.

- A focus group was established to provide guidance with respect to categories of location where high quality reliable mobile coverage should be made available as a priority. The report of the focus group was published on my Department’s website on 31 August 2018. It is anticipated that the output of the focus group should influence the actions of the mobile network operators in their work to reduce mobile phone blackspots. It will also inform future policy in my Department with regards to priorities for mobile phone services.

- A working group has been established with the remit of investigating the feasibility of developing standardised policy for accessing and utilising State and publicly owned assets for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure.

- ComReg has published a composite national outdoor coverage map, which will, in tandem with its work on handset testing and activities to raise consumer awareness, allow people across Ireland to optimise the services available to them.

- ComReg has developed a licensing scheme which will enable households and businesses to use mobile phone repeaters to boost signals into their premises and bring immediate improvements in mobile coverage.

In tandem with the work of the Taskforce, the release by ComReg of the 3.6GHz radio spectrum band, which has been identified at EU level as a primary band suitable for 5G roll-out, will also contribute to addressing increasing mobile data demands and improve mobile coverage. Mobile operators’ commercial investment has also resulted in improved services, following ComReg's 2012 multi-band spectrum auction. At least one operator now has in excess of 90% 4G population coverage.

All of these initiatives should help enhance the quality of mobile phone and data services, particularly in areas currently experiencing a low level of service, including County Kildare.

Petroleum and Gas Exploration

Questions (539)

Brian Stanley

Question:

539. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of meetings that have taken place between his officials and representatives of oil and gas companies that have either invested in offshore drilling or wish to become involved in exploration and or extraction in territorial waters. [25515/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Effective regulation of petroleum activities requires oversight of work programmes proposed by applicants for, and holders of, petroleum authorisations. In that context my officials regularly meet with applicants and authorisation holders to invigilate proposed and existing work programmes, particularly from a technical and financial perspective, thus facilitating informed decision making. I have asked my officials to compile a list of recent meetings and to furnish same to the Deputy.

Cross-Border Co-operation

Questions (540)

Micheál Martin

Question:

540. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has recently met his counterpart in Northern Ireland to discuss common areas of interest in cross-Border issues in their departmental areas of responsibility; if there are areas that can be expanded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25618/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

There has not been an opportunity to meet ministerial colleagues in Northern Ireland, in light of the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

There is ongoing engagement by my officials with their Northern Ireland counterparts on a range of issues. For instance, the administrations in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK have co-operated on energy policy matters, including the establishment of the Single Electricity Market and its further development.

In addition, the Loughs Agency of the Foyle Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission is a North South Body established under the British Irish Agreement Act 1999 which operates under the co-sponsorship of my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland. It provides for the effective management, conservation, promotion and development of the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford areas. It is also responsible for the development and licensing of aquaculture and development of marine tourism.

Road Improvement Schemes

Questions (541)

Mary Butler

Question:

541. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the allocations for applications for funding under the specific improvement grants scheme will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24861/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant County or City Council, 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 a matter for each Council.

Before the financial crisis, local authorities could apply on a regular basis for grants for Specific and Strategic Improvement Grants to improve roads. However, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the recession meant these grant schemes had to be curtailed after 2013 because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.

Project Ireland 2040 does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network but it will take some time yet to reach the level required for the adequate maintenance and renewal of the network. For this reason there is limited scope at present for funding projects under the Specific or Strategic Grant Programme.

Any projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under the Specific or Strategic Grant Programmes are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case project basis and must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework.

This year Specific Improvement Grants totalling €15.2 million were announced in February.

Traffic Management

Questions (542)

John Brassil

Question:

542. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the expected commencement and completion date for traffic management measures by Transport Infrastructure Ireland at Derryquay, Derrymore East, County Kerry. [24872/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. The Roads Acts 1993-2015 prescribes the roles and responsibilities of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned, for the delivery of the National Roads Programme. Among these roles and functions, TII and local authorities are responsible for the operation and management of individual national roads.  

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

Bus Éireann Services

Questions (543)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

543. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the 115A bus will be fully in service (details supplied). [24921/19]

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 statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. The issue raised is a matter for the NTA in conjunction with Bus Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.