I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 and 290 together.
I recognise the very difficult business environment that small public service vehicle (SPSV) operators have faced since the onset of the present COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the nature of the present crisis and the central role of the National Transport Authority as statutory regulator, my Department's engagement with the SPSV industry has focused primarily on the statutory-based Advisory Committee on Small Public Service Vehicles (commonly known as the Taxi Advisory Committee). The National Transport Authority has communicated regularly with individual SPSV operators in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on the SPSV industry. This approach to engagement with industry will continue for the coming months as the Department and the NTA focus on assisting those who have stopped working return to work as the economy reopens and passenger demand for SPSVs returns.
As you will be aware the role of that Committee under the Taxi Regulation Act 2013 is to advise the Minister in relation to issues relevant to small public service vehicles and their drivers. The views of the taxi industry are well represented on that Committee through multiple Committee members with representative functions and backgrounds and experience in the sector. The legislation stipulates that membership of the Committee includes at least four persons "representing small public service vehicle and driver interests". The current Committee exceeds that number with both drivers and taxi dispatch operators both represented. I would encourage representative bodies of the taxi industry to work through this Committee and to engage with the members of the Committee who have been appointed to represent SPSV vehicle and driver interests.
My predecessor as Minister, Shane Ross, met with the Committee in late June. It subsequently produced a report with recommendations on how to best assist SPSV operators recover from the impact of the pandemic. This report is currently being examined in detail and my Department is working with counterparts across Government to ensure that SPSV operators, particularly self-employed owner-operators, are able to avail of current and forthcoming financial support measures to the greatest extent possible.