Question No. 904 answered with Question No. 887.

Driver Licences

Questions (905)

Frank Feighan

Question:

905. Deputy Frankie Feighan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if full driver licences will be extended for 12 months due to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8747/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Due to the closure of services provided by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, I took measures to extend the validity of a number of documents, including driver licences.  Any driver licences which were due to expire from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 inclusive have had their period of validity extended by 4 months. This matter will be kept under review.

The RSA is currently working, in consultation with my Department, on plans for the resumption of the range of services and functions for which it is responsible, following the publication of the Government roadmap and, more recently, the National Return to Work Safely Protocol as agreed by employer and trade union representatives. 

Motor Tax

Questions (906)

Thomas Gould

Question:

906. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to implement measures to ensure elderly persons cocooning are reimbursed for vehicles that are off the road (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8750/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The legislation which sets out the circumstances for refunds of motor tax provides for a refund of motor tax in certain limited circumstances, where:

- a vehicle has been scrapped or destroyed;

- a vehicle has been permanently exported;

- a vehicle has been stolen and has not been recovered by the owner;

- a vehicle in respect of which a tax disc has been taken out has not been used in a public place at any time since the issue of the disc;

- the owner of a vehicle has ceased, because of illness, injury or other physical disability, to use the vehicle;

- the owner of a vehicle has ceased, because of absence from the state for business or educational purposes, to use the vehicle; or

- the owner of a vehicle has ceased, because of service overseas with the Defence Forces, to use the vehicle.

There are no plans currently to amend the legislation to extend the grounds for the granting of a refund.

In respect of the requirement for a Garda signature, licensing authorities (motor tax offices) were advised by my Department in March that it is in order to accept documents, such as refund applications and applications for replacement documents, that usually require Garda certification without such certification for the time being.

The Deputy should note that there is a facility in place to declare a vehicle off the road if a vehicle is not going to be in use. The Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Act 2013, as amended, provides for a system of declaring vehicles off the road in advance for motor tax purposes.  The declaration must be made in the last month of an existing motor tax disc or renewed in the last month of a previously made declaration of non-use.  The declaration can be made online or in a motor tax office using the following form:

www.gov.ie/en/publication/4df54e-declaration-of-non-use-of-a-vehicle/.

The declaration can be made for any number of calendar months between 3 and 12 months i.e. it cannot be made for a period of 1 or 2 months.  If a vehicle is subsequently required to be put back on the road, the declaration can be broken at any time simply by taxing the vehicle.

National Driver Licensing Service

Questions (907)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

907. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the phase that NDLS centres will reopen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8758/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The RSA is currently working, in consultation with my Department, on plans for the resumption of the range of services and functions for which it is responsible, following the publication of the Government roadmap and, more recently, the National Return to Work Safely Protocol as agreed by employer and trade union representatives.

Dates for the resumption of the RSA's services, and any special arrangements which will need to be put into place to allow for the provision of these services, will be determined in consultation with the relevant health authorities.

The safety of the public is of paramount importance at this time, whether from infection or from deaths and injuries on the road, and in this as in all aspects of the Covid-19 crisis, my Department will be guided by NPHET and national experts.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (908)

Colm Burke

Question:

908. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to provide financial supports to private bus companies that will lose out during the tourist season as a result of the Covid-19 crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8761/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 health emergency, the Government has been clear that continued operation of the public transport sector is important and designated public transport as an “essential service” during the Covid-19 emergency, recognising the importance of keeping the system running especially for carrying essential workers and other passengers making necessary journeys throughout the crisis period. 

The introduction of restrictions on public movement and the temporary closure of many workplaces, education centres and leisure and social activities across the country has led to an unprecedented fall in demand for public transport.  Nonetheless, public transport has served, and will continue to serve, a vital role in transporting essential workers and in supporting Government’s Roadmap to Reopening Society and Business in the weeks and months ahead.

Public health advices on social distancing are relevant across the public transport sector, and operators are implementing measures to facilitate adequate social distancing measures on-board; this significantly reduces the carrying capacity of public transport services.

While the majority of public transport in Ireland is provided by the publicly-subvented bus and rail services funded through National Transport Authority's (NTA) public service obligation (PSO) programme, the public transport system also includes non-subvented bus services provided on a commercial basis by bus and coach businesses of varying size.  I understand that about 90% of the commercial bus operators have suspended their services or are providing significantly reduced services at present.

From my Department's engagement with their representatives, and indeed from the NTA's regular engagement with them throughout the crisis, I understand the very difficult business environment that the commercial bus operators are now dealing with.  Indeed, across Government we are acutely aware that the Covid-19 situation presents huge challenges for many business sectors.

That is why we have worked to introduce a wide programme of Government supports for impacted businesses.  The range of supports available includes new schemes of wage subsidies, rates waivers, re-start grants, lending facilities, equity injection, and business advisory supports for example.  I am engaging with my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation about these matters and am raising with her the concerns and situation of the commercial operators.

Sports Funding

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Questions (909)

Frank Feighan

Question:

909. Deputy Frankie Feighan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding which was announced for the provision of the national surf centre in Strandhill, County Sligo and the Sligo civic plaza in Sligo town by Fáilte Ireland is still proposed to be allocated in view of the Covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8767/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department's role in relation to tourism lies primarily in the area of national tourism policy. While my Department provides capital funding to Fáilte Ireland for investment in tourism product development, it is not directly involved in the management of individual tourism projects and has no role in the administration of the agency's grants programmes.

It is my understanding that Fáilte Ireland still intends to fund the two projects mentioned by the Deputy. I have asked Fáilte Ireland to reply directly to the Deputy with further detail on the status of these particular projects. Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Driver Test

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deput

under Standing Order 51

Questions (910)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

910. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons awaiting a driver test which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 emergency; the number of these persons based in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8785/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As this is a matter for the Road Safety Authority I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Driver Test

Questions (911)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

911. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to meet with representative groups to find a solution to the backlog of driver tests. [8786/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Dates for the resumption of Road Safety Authority (RSA) services, and any special arrangements which will need to be put into place to allow for the provision of these services, will be determined in consultation with the relevant health authorities.

The RSA, in planning to reopen driver testing services, will consider all factors, including the backlog of people waiting for tests. Any representative groups who believe they have a solution to address the growing backlog of people awaiting driving tests while still maintaining social distancing and other restrictions in place at that time, should contact the RSA.

Driver Test

Questions (912, 917, 918)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

912. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the proposals his Department has developed to address the cancellation of driving lessons and driver tests for thousands of persons nationally in view of the many workers impacted that require a licence to travel to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8787/20]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

917. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when persons with learner permits will be permitted to sit their driver tests. [8824/20]

View answer

John Brady

Question:

918. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider lifting restrictions to allow persons with learner permits drive unaccompanied, many of whom rely on their car to travel to work, in view of the fact that it is not possible for a learner driver to sit their driver test at present. [8825/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 912, 917 and 918 together.

Due to the closure of services provided by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, I took measures to extend the validity of a number of documents, including the learner permit.  Any learner permits which were due to expire from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 inclusive have had their period of validity extended by 4 months. If it is the case that the NDLS centres have not re-opened before the extension period expires, the possibility of a further extension will be examined.

It must be understood that a learner permit is not a licence, but a permit to allow a person to drive while learning. The purpose of the driving test is to set out the minimum level of knowledge, skill and competency that a learner must demonstrate in order to become a fully licensed driver. Until a learner can meet this standard and pass this test, they are not safe to take to our roads without appropriate supervision. 

I would also like to point out that the current pass rate for driving tests nationally stands at 52% for 2019, so having fulfilled all of the driving lesson requirements does not mean that an individual meets the standard required to pass the test. 

Studies have repeatedly shown that unaccompanied learner drivers are markedly more likely to be involved in fatal collisions.  For that reason, there can be no exceptions to the current laws in force around learner drivers.  Regrettably, there has been an increase in fatalities on our roads so far in 2020, and we must not relax the standards required of our drivers before being awarded a driving licence, even in the case of frontline workers.

An unaccompanied learner driver who is stopped by an Garda Síochána may face penalty points, a fixed charge, seizure of the vehicle and possible prosecution.

The RSA is currently working, in consultation with my Department, on plans for the resumption of the range of services and functions for which it is responsible, following the publication of the Government roadmap and, more recently, the National Return to Work Safely Protocol as agreed by employer and trade union representatives.

The resumption of driver testing raises particular problems in terms of compliance with the Protocol and in particular social distancing rules, as it requires the driver tester and the candidate to be within a two metre distance continuously for a period in excess of 20 minutes, in a very confined space which is not in itself a workplace under the control of the RSA.

I appreciate that the inability to carry out driving tests is among the many difficulties that we all are having to endure at this time, for those awaiting such tests.  On a very preliminary appraisal of the Protocol, car driving tests may have to be the last of the statutory functions, for which the RSA is responsible, to recommence in or after Phase 5 of the Government's roadmap.

Dates for the resumption of the RSA's services, and any special arrangements which will need to be put into place to allow for the provision of these services, will be determined in consultation with the relevant health authorities.

The safety of the public is of paramount importance at this time, whether from infection or from deaths and injuries on the road, and in this as in all aspects of the Covid-19 crisis, my Department will be guided by NPHET and national experts.

As a private company, a driving school must ensure that they can comply with the necessary public health requirements before they can reopen their businesses. The National Return to Work Safely Protocol was developed by NPHET in consultation with national experts.

However, I expect a driving school to encounter the same difficulties as the RSA in terms of complying with the requirements of this Protocol.

I understand that any company which reopens is subject to inspection by Health and Safety Authority, and may face serious sanctions, including closure, if found to be not in compliance with Covid-19 requirements. 

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Question No. 914 answered with Question No. 849.

Questions (913)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

913. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if support will be provided to scheduled services for the bus and coach sector in circumstances in which vehicles may need adapting and capacity reduction measures. [8792/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 health emergency, the Government has been clear that continued operation of the public transport sector is important and designated public transport as an “essential service” during the Covid-19 emergency, recognising the importance of keeping the system running especially for carrying essential workers and other passengers making necessary journeys throughout the crisis period. 

The introduction of restrictions on public movement and the temporary closure of many workplaces, education centres and leisure and social activities across the country has led to an unprecedented fall in demand for public transport.  Nonetheless, public transport has served, and will continue to serve, a vital role in transporting essential workers and in supporting Government’s Roadmap to Reopening Society and Business in the weeks and months ahead.

Public health advices on social distancing are relevant across the public transport sector, and operators are implementing measures to facilitate adequate social distancing measures on-board; this significantly reduces the carrying capacity of public transport services.

While the majority of public transport in Ireland is provided by the publicly-subvented bus and rail services funded through National Transport Authority's (NTA) public service obligation (PSO) programme, the public transport system also includes non-subvented bus services provided on a commercial basis by bus and coach businesses of varying size.  I understand that about 90% of the commercial bus operators have suspended their services or are providing significantly reduced services at present.

From my Department's engagement with their representatives, and indeed from the NTA's regular engagement with them throughout the crisis, I understand the very difficult business environment that the commercial bus operators are now dealing with.  Indeed, across Government we are acutely aware that the Covid-19 situation presents huge challenges for many business sectors.

That is why we have worked to introduce a wide programme of Government supports for impacted businesses.  The range of supports available includes new schemes of wage subsidies, rates waivers, re-start grants, lending facilities, equity injection, and business advisory supports for example.  I am engaging with my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation about these matters and am raising with her the concerns and situation of the commercial operators.

Question No. 914 answered with Question No. 849.

Transport Policy

Questions (915)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

915. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider the initiation of a new public transport recovery taskforce with an independent chair and budget. [8794/20]

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.  Ensuring the provision of integrated public transport services (bus, rail, light-rail and taxi) by public and private operators throughout the State is the statutory responsibility of the National Transport Authority.

The Government has been clear that continued operation of the public transport sector is important, and it has been designated among the essential services that are to carry on. I would like to thank operators and staff for their continued dedication to providing this vital service in such challenging times.

Over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, my Department has been working closely with the National Transport Authority (NTA) to ensure public transport services continue and to plan for for the provision of enhanced public transport services in line with the Government Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business. In this context, the NTA is engaging directly with both PSO and commercial transport operators and will publish their proposals shortly. My Department is also engaging directly with PSO and commercial operators to help inform policy decisions in relation to the public transport sector as we progress through the various phases of the Roadmap.  My Department is also engaged intensively across Government in relation to progressing relevant issues.  In view of these necessary approaches and engagements to address what is already a complex and difficult set of issues, I have no plans, at this time, to establish an additional administrative structure.

National Lottery Funding Disbursement

Questions Nos. 917 and 918 answered with Question No. 912.

Questions (916)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

916. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of national lottery funding for an association (details supplied) to construct a new workshop; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8810/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) as administered by my Department provides funding for sports clubs and groups for the development of sports facilities and the provision of sports equipment.

My Department is not aware of any application under the SCP from the organisation referred to by the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 917 and 918 answered with Question No. 912.

Haulage Industry

Questions (919)

Robert Troy

Question:

919. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures introduced to resolve a matter (details supplied) in order to ensure there is no disruption to the supply chain. [8849/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Maintaining transport connectivity to support the movement of goods into and out of Ireland remains a primary objective of Government during the COVID-19 outbreak. Critical supply chains have continued to function well; however, the pandemic has negatively impacted on freight activity levels globally and the road haulage sector, like many industries, has been affected as a consequence.

The drop in freight activity was inevitable given the temporary closure of a range of commercial activities in Ireland and abroad. An increase in 'empty leg' journeys during the COVID-19 pandemic is, as pointed out, not specific to Irish hauliers, with incidents widely reported across Europe and I am aware that it has become more difficult for some Irish hauliers operating internationally to ensure full loads for both outbound and inbound journeys.

My Department, in conjunction with the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) continues to keep maritime freight activity levels under review. As sectors begin to re-open both here (with Phase One of the Recovery Roadmap already underway) and across Europe, I expect that the demand for goods will begin to rebound. As a consequence, business for haulage operators should begin to revert toward more traditional levels. In fact, since the easing of some restrictions freight activity levels have already begun to show some early indications of improvements on both maritime routes and on our roads network, including the Dublin Port Tunnel.

I note that the Deputy’s question refers to a proposal whereby ferry companies in receipt of public service obligation (PSO) support should offer a discounted rate for empty vehicles or trailers. I wish to emphasise that the PSO arrangement was essential in safeguarding a basic level of maritime connectivity between Irish Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) ports and Great Britain/Europe during the COVID-19 crisis. It was, and is, necessary to keep supply chains, and therefore hauliers, moving into and out of Ireland. The PSO support package is required to be targeted, temporary and restricted, with the explicit aim of keeping Ireland, as an island nation, connected to Great Britain and the EU. The PSO arrangement supports five routes only; other routes, where the number of services and providers were deemed sufficient to prevent market failure, were not supported. The aim was to ensure that operators continue to service the Southern and Continental Corridor instead of a complete cessation of these routes. The support measure is limited to covering the gap between specified costs and revenues generated on the relevant services. Under this model, no company would make a profit but the State secures strategically important services, which are vital for the haulage industry. This is similar to other services such as public transport and regional air routes, which also receive PSO supports. They do not, and cannot, reduce costs for any particular set of users but rather allow the service to remain in place for users to avail of.

The Deputy may wish to be aware of a number of COVID-19 specific measures that have been put in place, to help support the continued functioning of the road haulage sector, including:

- A temporary derogation from certain provisions of the EU drivers’ hours rules, which has been in place since mid-March and which expired on 31 May 2020;

- An extension of expiry dates on Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) cards. Irish Driver CPC cards that expire during the COVID-19 outbreak will be valid up to 26 September 2020;

- A three-month extension for vehicles with a Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness (CVR) Test due on or after 28 March 2020;

- An extension of validity periods for drivers with driving licences due to expire between 1 March and 30 June 2020 inclusive, their date of expiry being extended by 4 months;

- Publishing an array of practical documents, including workplace guidance on how to manage business continuity; a communication regarding access to sanitary facilities and motorway services; a summary of motorway service area facilities; and guidelines for cleaning HGVs; and

- An array of enterprise COVID-19 specific supports that the haulage sector can also avail of including the Credit Guarantee Scheme; the COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme; Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 loan finance; Wage Subsidy Payments; and Pandemic Unemployment Payments.

In summary, while I recognise that the temporary closure of a range of commercial activities has led to a significant change in demand for goods into and out of Ireland, I am confident that the coming weeks will see an improvement in the situation as sectors continue to re-open here and across Europe. In the interim, I do not currently believe that Government subvention for empty leg journeys is an appropriate mitigation measure, and transportation costs should continue to be negotiated on a commercial basis between relevant parties. In addition, eligible hauliers may avail of the State supports outlined to assist them during these challenging times.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (920)

Robert Troy

Question:

920. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the input he had when the Department of Health introduced a 14 day quarantine when arriving by air here; the reference made to the international aviation advice on air travel; the way in which the Irish proposal compares with other European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8859/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As you are no doubt aware, the Department of Health is the lead Government Department in relation to public health matters, including COVID-19 and also health related measures taken at ports and airports in relation to arriving passengers. My Department engaged with the Department of Health regarding the exemptions to self-isolation measures required for transport workers.

Queries in relation to public health decisions should therefore be directed to the Department of Health.

Road Projects

Questions (921)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

921. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the second bridge and southern relief route for Newbridge, County Kildare; the recent progress; his plans to bring the project to fruition; the target date for opening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8908/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads (RLR) 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 councils' own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.

In regard to a second bridge and southern relief road for Newbridge, my Department has not received applications for funding from Kildare County Council in relation to these works.

My Department is currently funding two Strategic schemes in Kildare namely Sallins By-Pass and the Athy Southern Distributor Road. 

Road Projects

Questions (922)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

922. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the Athy distributor route; the recent progress; his plans to bring the project to fruition; the target date for opening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8909/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant 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. 

Project Ireland 2040 identifies a programme of regional and local road improvement projects to be progressed with grant support and the Athy Southern Distributor Road is one of those projects.  Implementation of the programme of projects is on a phased basis and progression of each project is subject to the profile of annual capital allocations available to the Department. 

Implementation of the Athy scheme is the responsibility of Kildare County Council. Grant funding of €3.5 million has been allocated to the Council for this project in 2020. My Department recently approved this project to proceed to tender for the main construction contract.

Driver Test

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Questions (923)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

923. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons waiting for theory test appointments in each administrative area and by age in tabular form (details supplied). [8920/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Driver Test

Question No. 925 answered with Question No. 887.

Questions (924, 939)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

924. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the policy for recommencing theory and driving tests. [8921/20]

View answer

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

939. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider the recommencement of driver tests for those that need a full licence for work purposes or to finish their apprenticeships. [9112/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 924 and 939 together.

Due to the closure of services provided by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, I took measures to extend the validity of a number of documents, including the learner permit. Any learner permits which were due to expire from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 inclusive have had their period of validity extended by 4 months. If it is the case that the NDLS centres have not re-opened before the extension period expires, the possibility of a further extension will be examined.

The RSA is currently working, in consultation with my Department, on plans for the resumption of the range of services and functions for which it is responsible, following the publication of the Government roadmap and, more recently, the National Return to Work Safely Protocol as agreed by employer and trade union representatives.

The resumption of driver testing raises particular problems in terms of compliance with the Protocol and in particular social distancing rules, as it requires the driver tester and the candidate to be within a two metre distance continuously for a period in excess of 20 minutes, in a very confined space which is not in itself a workplace under the control of the RSA.

I appreciate that the inability to carry out driving tests is among the many difficulties that we all are having to endure at this time, for those awaiting such tests. On a very preliminary appraisal of the Protocol, car driving tests may have to be the last of the statutory functions, for which the RSA is responsible, to recommence in or after Phase 5 of the Government's roadmap.

Dates for the resumption of the RSA's services, and any special arrangements which will need to be put into place to allow for the provision of these services, will be determined in consultation with the relevant health authorities.

The RSA has always been willing to consider arrangements for people who urgently need a driving test, and I anticipate that this will continue to be the case when the service resumes.

The safety of the public is of paramount importance at this time, whether from infection or from deaths and injuries on the road, and in this as in all aspects of the Covid-19 crisis, my Department will be guided by NPHET and national experts.

Question No. 925 answered with Question No. 887.

Tourism Funding

Questions (926)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

926. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when a package of support will be announced for the hospitality and tourism sector; the elements that will be included in this package; if he has had discussions with the Minister for Health in relation to opening hotels on a limited occupancy basis at the same time as restaurants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8941/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department has liaised with other Government departments and industry representative bodies, to align the economy wide COVID-19 supports and initiatives with tourism and hospitality needs. The measures put in place by the Government to support businesses initially focused on supporting those who have lost their jobs and in supporting businesses to remain viable during this difficult time with specifically targeted supports to assist companies to stay operational and retain their staff.

As a result, many tourism businesses are now availing of the various cross-sectoral economic supports that the Government has already put in place such as; the wage subsidy scheme, increased unemployment benefits, the state credit guarantee scheme, working capital loan schemes, enterprise support schemes and deferrals of tax liabilities, VAT, social contributions and local authority rates.

Fáilte Ireland has set up a COVID-19 Industry Advisory Group which meets weekly. The purpose of this group is to provide support to the tourism industry and to facilitate the timely sharing of information and insights to help improve the sector's understanding and response to the crisis. Fáilte Ireland has also developed a COVID-19 Business Support Hub which offers a suite of targeted supports for tourism businesses including a series of webinars from experts in each field, as well as advice guides with detailed FAQs and templates where necessary.

Minister Ross and I have appointed a Tourism Recovery Taskforce to prepare a Tourism Recovery Plan which will include a set of recommendations on how best the Irish tourism sector can adapt and recover in the changed tourism environment as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The plan will identify priority aims, key enablers and market opportunities for the sector for the period 2020-2023. The Taskforce may consult with stakeholders to inform its deliberations and report back this year. The membership of the Taskforce is available on my Department’s website.

On 1st May, the Government published a Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business to ease the COVID-19 restrictions and reopen Ireland’s economy in a phased manner. In this regard Fáilte Ireland, in conjunction with the relevant authorities, is currently preparing guidelines for the tourism sector.

In line with the sequence of actions detailed in the ‘Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business’, hotels (but not hotel bars) are due to reopen in Phase 4, which is also when travel beyond the home area (>20km) is due to be permitted. This Roadmap is a living, flexible framework document and will be subject to regular review. As per this framework and subject to the continued successful suppression of the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland, the Government will decide which restrictions to ease and at what point in time, having regard to the public health advice of the Department of Health and other social and economic considerations.

Córas Iompair Éireann

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Questions (927)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

927. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the CIÉ group of companies have consulted with him in relation to the plan by CIÉ tours to cut the number of tours for 2021 by 50%; if he has expressed concern in relation to the effect this will have on many tourist locations nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8952/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I am the shareholder in CIÉ, which is a commercial State-owned body that operates within the context of legislation and the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.  CIÉ Tours is a wholly owned subsidiary of CIÉ;  it operates on a commercial basis and its business is as a tour operator mainly arranging international tourist tour-travel into Ireland from North America.  Operational and detailed business strategy matters for CIÉ Tours - such as changes to its range of tours for the 2021 season - are, in the first instance, matters for the management and Board of the company and its parent, and are not matters in which the Minister has a specific role.

Therefore, I have forwarded the Deputy's question to CIÉ for direct response.  Please contact my private office if a reply has not been received within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Dublin Airport Authority

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Questions (928)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

928. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons employed by DAA; if job losses are expected; if a guarantee will be given that as a matter of policy the staff will not be replaced with outsourced workers and that when the company is rehiring it will offer the same terms and conditions as are currently enjoyed by staff; if a further guarantee will be given that retained staff will continue to enjoy their current terms and conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8968/20]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I would like to thank the Deputy for this question in relation to employees of daa plc.  While daa plc, like all State bodies, is required to consult with my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to any developments which could have significant implications for general Government pay policy and the State body’s own finances, daa plc has statutory responsibility to operate, manage and develop Dublin Airport and as such, operational matters, like staff numbers and terms and conditions for staff, are all matters for the Company.  I have forwarded your question to daa plc, for direct reply. 

If the Deputy does not receive a reply from daa within ten working days, please advise my Private Office.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51