National Broadband Plan

Questions (891)

Barry Cowen

Question:

891. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the value of the contingency fund for the national broadband plan; the amount that can be awarded to a company (details supplied) for encroachment of the intervention area; the circumstances in which an encroachment of the intervention area would trigger compensation to the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45575/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) contract provides a mechanism for National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to apply for compensation for encroachment where other commercial operators have deployed a future proofed high speed broadband service in advance of NBI's own deployment in the intervention area. This subsidy is capped and can only be applied for where my Department determines a commercial deployment of high speed broadband meets the requirements set out in the NBP contract, specifically a deployment of a fibre or equivalent high speed broadband technology, and that this deployment has had a negative impact on NBI's business case. The mapping consultation, which will confirm the intervention area prior to contract award, will reduce the risk of this element of contingency subsidy being required.

The specific capped subsidy for such operator encroachment, should it arise, forms part of contingency funding of €480 million (excluding VAT).

Tourism Promotion

Questions (892)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

892. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the recent decision taken by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland not to feature greyhound racing in tourism marketing campaigns here or abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44581/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I was gravely concerned following the coverage and debate regarding alleged cruel practices within Ireland’s greyhound industry.

One of the issues that arose as a result was the promotion of greyhound racing by our tourism agencies.

Consequently, while the process of investigating and addressing issues was underway in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I asked the agencies to review their promotion of greyhound racing. I subsequently welcomed their decision to pause active promotion of greyhound racing and to keep the situation under review, pending implementation of several reforms.

Since then, my colleague Brendan Griffin T.D., Minister of State for Tourism and Sport at my Department, has received an update on Bord na gCon's additional and enhanced care and welfare measures, which he forwarded on within the last fortnight to both Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. Minister Griffin has made it clear that he has strong personal views on the industry, which do not coincide with my own. I have no problem with him letting those personal views be known to third parties.

Road Signage

Questions (893)

Robert Troy

Question:

893. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider introducing new or additional signage for disabled parking bays (details supplied); and if he is considering other measures or awareness campaigns to educate the general public on differing holders of blue badges. [44659/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Both my Department and the two bodies charged with issuing the Disabled Parking Permit, the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) and the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA), are very aware of the misunderstandings that can arise in public perceptions of physical disability and the challenges that this can pose for drivers with invisible mobility impairments. It was never the intention of the Disabled Parking scheme that permits and designated bays be restricted to wheelchair users. The choice of the wheelchair symbol, however, is based on the fact that it is internationally recognisable and not tied to a particular language or culture, a universality that allows the holder of a permit to use it all over the world. The Irish permit is designed to a common European standard and any change to the Irish legislation on the matter would require a change at European level first.

Disabled Parking Permit

Questions (894)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

894. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason persons with hidden disabilities are not entitled to the disabled person's parking card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45106/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Disabled Parking Permit (also known as the European Parking Card or Disabled Parking Badge) is available to people living in Ireland whose mobility is severely restricted, whether they are drivers or passengers, and also to those who are registered blind. In 2010 the Department conducted a review of the Disabled Parking Scheme, in consultation with various stakeholders and one of the issues examined was eligibility for the scheme. As a result of the review the scheme was revised so that permits are now given on the basis of mobility impairment rather than the diagnosis of a particular condition or illness. This is in line with the original intention of the scheme.

People whose invisible disability directly affects their ability to walk may in fact qualify for the permit. The possibility of extending the eligibility criteria for the scheme to include people with invisible disabilities which do not necessarily impair mobility, meanwhile, has been raised on a number of occasions and the Department has consulted extensively with the joint issuing authorities of the scheme, the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) and the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWC), on this matter. In light of this consultation there are currently no plans to change the criteria.

I would particularly emphasise to the Deputy that issuing a large number of extra permits by extending the eligibility criteria would in fact put the existing scheme under significant additional pressure and compromise the availability of disabled parking spaces in general.

Tourism Industry

Questions (895)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

895. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the budgetary steps that have been taken to support the tourism sector specifically in the midlands and western region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44544/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Tourism has received an allocation of €186 million in Budget 2020, up 10% on the 2019 allocation. Furthermore an extra €7m was provided to support the industry in 2019.

With regard to the various regions, Fáilte Ireland develops and promotes their tourism potential in line with the relevant tourism experience brands – namely Ireland's Hidden Heartlands, Ireland's Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and the Dublin brand – which are designed to boost tourism and drive visitor growth throughout the country, with consequential benefits for the local economy and jobs right across Ireland, including the midlands and western region. Tourism Ireland promotes the island of Ireland overseas.

Fáilte Ireland also provides targeted capital investment in attractions and other tourism infrastructure throughout the regions, consistent with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040 to help support and grow tourism. Priority areas for tourism capital investment include the development and enhancement of tourist attractions and activity-based tourism to provide the type and quality of experience that visitors are seeking. This capital investment is further supported by Fáilte Ireland current investment in complementary programme supports – including festivals and events, business supports and training – aimed at enhancing, animating and promoting the regional tourism experience brands.

I have asked the two tourism agencies Tourism Ireland, in regard to overseas tourism marketing, and Fáilte Ireland, in regard to regional tourism development and domestic tourism promotion, to provide the Deputy with more detail. Accordingly I have referred the Deputy's question to the two tourism agencies for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Projects Status

Questions (896)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

896. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of plans to construct two right turning lanes for both Croghan and Cootehall on the N4 Boyle to Carrick-on-Shannon route, County Roscommon further to the commitment by Transport Infrastructure Ireland to carry out such a project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44185/19]

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. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of works on 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.

Bus Services

Questions (897)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

897. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to concerns raised by commuters owing to the recent changes introduced to rural bus services in Inishowen, County Donegal and routes operating between the peninsula and Letterkenny; if his attention has been further drawn to the considerable price differential which exists between rural transport services operated by LocalLink on the Malin to Cardnonagh route and the Buncrana to Carndonagh route compared to a connecting service between Carndonagh and Letterkenny which is operated by a private transport provider; the options being currently considered by his Department and the NTA with respect to the latter route with the view to reducing fares for commuters of the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44240/19]

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 transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme, which now operates under the 'Local Link' brand.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

Dublin Bikes Scheme

Questions (898)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

898. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to expand the Dublin bikes scheme further; the areas of Dublin that will be included; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44286/19]

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 cycle and public transport infrastructure. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport, including the management of public bike schemes.

Noting the National Transport Authority's statutory responsibilities in relation to cycling and cycling infrastructure, 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.

Rural Transport Services

Questions (899)

Robert Troy

Question:

899. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of works by the NTA in designing a new bus stop system in Mullingar, County Westmeath; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the lack of works in providing the new system is holding up the roll out of a new local link town service in the area. [44312/19]

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 development and implementation of public transport infrastructure including the provision of bus infrastructure throughout the State.

While I am aware there is ongoing liaison between the NTA and the local authority in relation to bus stops within Mullingar, in light of the NTA's responsibility in this area, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a direct and more detailed reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Rural Transport Programme

Questions (900)

Robert Troy

Question:

900. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the NTA will issue updated health and safety guidelines and declarations for board members of rural transport programmes. [44313/19]

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 transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme, which now operates under the 'Local Link' brand.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

Air Traffic Control Services

Questions (901)

Paul Murphy

Question:

901. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there has been a change made to a flight path above Firhouse, Dublin 24 impacting on areas, including Aylesbury, Knocklyon and Ballycullen, in view of the fact there have been local complaints in relation to early morning disturbance due to increased plane traffic. [44338/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the issue raised is, in the first instance, an operational matter for the Irish Aviation Authority, which has responsibility for air traffic control in Irish airspace, I have referred the Deputy's question to it for direct reply.

Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Network

Questions (902)

Declan Breathnach

Question:

902. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a motion was passed at the Laytown and Bettystown municipal district meeting to designate the R132 Julianstown Road a national road and that this motion will be going before Meath County Council on November 7 2019; if he will consider a Ministerial Order to designate the R132 Julianstown Road a national route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44378/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Section 10 of the Roads Act 1993 as amended by the Roads Act 2007 provides for the classification of national, regional and local roads and as such periodic reviews are undertaken in that regard.

It is a matter for Meath County Council to decide whether to make a submission regarding the re-classification of the R132. Any such request would be considered as part of the periodic review process.

Rail Network

Questions (903)

David Cullinane

Question:

903. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to move beyond the steady State investment in rail in the National Development Plan 2018-2027; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44412/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Deputy is aware that Project Ireland 2040 provides significantly enhanced funding levels for our rail network which will expand its capacity, improve line journey speeds and lead to a better passenger experience across an improved network.

Key to this improvement is the increased funding being made available under the Infrastructure Manager Multi-Annual Contract or IMMAC. The IMMAC is the funding programme under which an extensive range of infrastructure improvements are carried out which will deliver improved journey speeds and increased reliability for passengers across the country. I have no doubt the Deputy welcomes the fact that I will shortly be seeking Government’s approval to enter into a new 5 year IMMAC which will provide over €1billion to Iarnród Éireann and allow it maintain, renew and improve rail infrastructure. This level of funding represents an approximate 40% increase in the amount of taxpayer funding as compared to the five years between 2014 and 2018 and the fact the network is now funded at a “steady state” level is hugely significant.

However, Project Ireland 2040 provides additional funding for the rail network above and beyond this significant contribution under the IMMAC.

In the summer Government approved a new National Train Control Centre which will completely modernise and improve the management of the network and services across the country. Construction will start next year and its completion will support the expanded services planned under the DART Expansion Programme which will roughly double the capacity of the network in the Greater Dublin Area, an area which handles approximately 70% of passenger journeys in any given year. Other projects underway include the City-Centre Re-signalling project, while construction will start next year on a new station in Pelletstown.

The Deputy will also acknowledge that funding under the PSO programme increased by approximately 6% between 2016 and 2018 which has supported increased services such as the 10-minute DART or greater utilisation of the Phoenix Park tunnel on the Kildare Line in recent years. In order to support further passenger growth Government has very recently approved the purchase of 41 additional InterCity Railcars and I expect those to start entering service in late 2021.

Separately to the above, the future potential for rail is also being examined at a metropolitan level through the development by the National Transport Authority of metropolitan area transport strategies for all cities, which will assist with the Department’s approach toward the mid-term review of the current Project Ireland 2040 funding profiles envisaged in 2022, while an independent review of a potential extension of the Western Rail Corridor is expected to be submitted to the Department shortly. My Department also plans to conduct an evaluation in 2020 of higher speeds on the network in line with the commitment given in Project Ireland 2040.

As the Deputy can see, there is a significant investment programme underway in relation to rail and I expect this to continue in the years ahead.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

Questions (904)

Michael McGrath

Question:

904. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the camera infrastructure in place and operational at a location (details supplied) in Cork city; if there is a live feed from the cameras available to An Garda Síochána to assist it in its work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44416/19]

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. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the operation and management 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.

Road Projects Status

Questions (905)

Imelda Munster

Question:

905. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the Ardee bypass project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44443/19]

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. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction 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.

Rail Network

Questions (906)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

906. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated cost of carrying out a feasibility study on reopening the railway line from Dublin to Kingscourt, County Cavan; the average cost of a rail feasibility study in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44445/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I have previously informed the Deputy that the priority funding objective in relation to mainline rail is the maintenance and renewal of the existing operating network. That objective is supported by the significantly enhanced funding now available to support that network as evidenced by the approximate 23% increase in Exchequer funding provided in 2019.

The Deputy is also aware from previous answers I have given on this issue that there is no funding provided within Project Ireland 2040 for the re-opening of the Kingscourt line nor to undertake a feasibility on the line.

In light of the National Transport Authority (NTA)'s responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure, I have referred the Deputy's specific question in relation to the average cost of a rail feasibility study to the NTA for a more detailed reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Light Rail Projects Status

Questions (907)

Gino Kenny

Question:

907. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the proposed Lucan Luas transport link; his views on the need for a Luas extension to Lucan in view of the gridlock that commuters living in the locality and in neighbouring areas face daily and the resulting unacceptable level of carbon emissions; if a date will be committed to for the development of the Lucan line especially in the context of climate change mitigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44454/19]

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. As the Deputy is aware Project Ireland 2040 provides funding for appraisal, planning and design of LUAS network expansions to Bray, Finglas, Lucan and Poolbeg.

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

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

Ports Facilities

Questions (908)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

908. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of full-time equivalent staff vacancies at each port; and the function of each role in tabular form. [44476/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Issues relating to staff are day to day internal HR matters for the port companies concerned. As such, I have referred the Deputy's Question to all the State port companies for direct response.

Please contact my Office if you have not received a reply within 10 working days.

Human Trafficking

Questions (909)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

909. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has met the Minister for Justice and Equality to discuss migrant smuggling and the preventative measures needed to detect same. [44477/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I have not met with the Minister for Justice and Equality to discuss the issue of migrant smuggling.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Questions (910)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

910. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of an application for a sports capital grant by a club (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44501/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country.

2,337 applications were submitted under the 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme seeking a total of €162m in funding.

The application referred to by the Deputy was for "equipment only" and these applications were assessed earlier this year. Unfortunately, the application did not achieve a sufficiently high score to secure a grant on this occasion and the club has been notified in this regard.

Grants in respect of the remaining capital applications are expected to be announced shortly after which a review into the operation of the 2018 SCP will be undertaken. Part of the review will be consideration of timing of the next round but I fully expect a new round of the SCP to be open in the coming months. It will again be open to the club referred to by the Deputy to apply for funding under this new round.