Other Questions

Driver Licences

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

6. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the criteria for re-issuing a new driver licence in circumstances where the original has been lost or stolen and the timeframe involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14972/14]

This question arises out of complaints I have received about the adequacy of arrangements for the operation of the National Driver Licence Service. I have heard complaints about the length of time it takes to issue licences, particularly in cases where a replacement licence is required for a lost or stolen licence and in an emergency case where someone wants to travel. In particular there seems to be confusion at some of the centres as to what is required in the unusual situation of lost or stolen driver licences.

The other point is the distances people must travel to personally present themselves to have their driver licence issued. This is a real challenge.

The National Driver Licence Service, NDLS, is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority, RSA, and the criteria for applying for a replacement for a lost or stolen driving licence are set out on the RSA website. These requirements include a Garda report stating it was lost or stolen.

There were problems with the speed of processing applications in the NDLS when the system came on stream last November. However, my officials, advisers and I have been in  regular discussions with the CEO of the RSA about the difficulties people have experienced and how the RSA proposes to address them. The authority acknowledges there were teething problems with the service when it opened. Some were technical and systems issues, while others related to the fact the staff were new and needed to become familiar with the rules and processes on driving licences and permits. However, the system has now improved.

The RSA responded by increasing resources and staff numbers in NDLS centres experiencing delays, as well as in the licence processing centre, and providing further training to staff. There are no longer any technical difficulties affecting the service. A booking system is in place to allow customers make appointments. This was operating on a pilot phase, which was successful, and the system is being extended on a phased basis to all NDLS offices. I understand from the RSA that applications for a driving licence which are fully in order are now processed in a timeframe of eight to 13 days. This timeframe will reduce to between five and eight days later this month.

The RSA has assured me the remaining backlog has been cleared and that the NDLS can also respond to urgent situations where a licence is needed for travel abroad or for work purposes. The details of this are on the website.

As recently as the week before last four people contacted me and in the case of one of them the person at the desk issuing these licences did not know what was required when a licence was lost or stolen.

Another issue which the Minister might address is the adequacy of the number of offices and the considerable distances people are required to travel in cities such as Dublin or in rural areas where there is no public transport. The service is less accessible now than it was before. This is an obvious case where the post office would be a more opportune way to deliver the service.

In his reply the Minister stated the RSA responded to the problem by increasing resources in the NDLS centres. How can this be when the service was tendered for and won by a particular company? How can additional resources be put into it if the fees have been set?

What is required is on the website and it is a very understandable website. If there are particular cases the Deputy wishes to bring to my attention she should give the details to my office and I will take them up with the NDLS.

The tender required that at least 95% of the population be within 50 km of a centre. It is important to bear in mind that unlike under the previous regime one can go to any centre and one does not have to go to the one in one's local authority area. They are open on Saturdays and during lunchtime, which was not the case under the previous regime.

An Post tendered for it. My understanding is among the reasons its tender was not successful was it could not guarantee openings on Saturday or at lunch time, and the cost of installing the equipment required to take the special photographs in every or many post offices was enormous. Even if it had gone to An Post it would not have been in every or most post offices; it would have been in a number of major post offices.

With regard to the gaps in the system the tender was done by the RSA and not by me and when it is done again it should probably be more prescriptive as to where centres are located. For example there is no centre in Dublin city centre. One must go to Santry, Citywest or Leopardstown for one's licence, which is odd. Generations of people who obtained their licence in the city centre wonder why this is.

On the simple point, will the Minister explain to me why the RSA's response when the company was failing to deliver the service, and allowing for any reasonable excuses given by the Minister such as teething problems, was to give it additional resources? Surely this was tendered for and the contract was signed to deliver it within certain terms and conditions. Why were more resources given to it? The service is still inadequate.

I will allow Deputy McHugh five seconds.

Five seconds or sentences.

Two of them have gone.

I welcome the Minister's comment on the future construct of the tender. I stand to be corrected, but under the previous contract 30 locations were identified in the tender and this precluded companies such as An Post from tendering for it. When the new tender is being constructed we should consider An Post as a readily available outlet. There is an opportunity there if we are creative.

A point to bear in mind is there are three contracts for the front office, the back office and card production. Some of the contracts are going better than others. The front office contract has been a particular problem. The RSA put in additional resources because people were experiencing problems and these needed to be fixed. I was not willing to wait three years for another contract to fix these. This is why extra staff and resources were introduced. There will be a claim and a financial discussion with the company about this. There will be an interesting discussion and debate between the RSA and the company as to who meets the cost of these additional resources. I stand over the fact they were put in. We could not have had a situation where the delays continued for years.

I am a big supporter of the post office and it is a great institution but An Post needs to move with the times. If it is to win contracts it must provide the services which people now expect. People expect services to be available on Saturday morning and they expect availability in the evening. An Post needs to modernise before it starts complaining about not getting work.

Haulage Industry Regulation

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

7. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact an increasing number of haulage operators are reregistering their vehicles in other jurisdictions due to the significant costs associated with the haulage industry here, such as the commercial vehicle road tax and commercial vehicle testing; his views on the United Kingdom’s restrictive interpretation of the revised cabotage rules which is making it extremely difficult for Irish operators, in addition to the pending introduction of the lorry road user charge in the UK and Northern Ireland; his plans to address these challenges facing the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15132/14]

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

9. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the discussions with his British counterpart regarding the introduction of a heavy goods vehicle road user levy in the United Kingdom which will have a significant impact on Irish hauliers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15133/14]

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

56. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on his work with the British Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to avoid potential damage to the haulage industry here posed by the heavy goods vehicle levy proposed by the British Government. [15147/14]

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

257. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will investigate if it would be allowable under European Union regulations to have a common road charging regime between Ireland and the United Kingdom whereby only one charge would be levied for access to the road network in both jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15620/14]

More than 11,000 international trucks operate in Ireland but more than 1,000 have left the jurisdiction and reregistered elsewhere because they do not feel there is a level playing field here. I am sure the Minister is well aware of the issues and I have raised a few of them in the question. Does the Minister have any plans to deal with the matter?

I propose to take Questions Nos. 7, 9, 56 and 257 together.

I had the privilege of speaking at the Irish Road Hauliers Association annual conference in Kilkenny on Saturday, the third time I have done so since I was appointed Minister. I have consistently sought to work with the industry to ensure it is fit for purpose. My goal is to have a haulage industry that operates efficiently, safely and profitably and I believe that during my tenure to date we have made real progress in this regard.

I appreciate the UK HGV road user levy is of concern, in particular for hauliers operating to and from Donegal. I have had extensive discussions with my UK and Northern Ireland counterparts on the matter and have made representations to the UK authorities to exempt certain significant sections of Northern Ireland's road infrastructure from the levy. Departmental officials and I are committed to pursuing this issue to the fullest possible extent. In this regard I acknowledge the co-operative role that Mark Durcan, the Northern Ireland Minister for the Environment, has taken on this matter.

The Taoiseach raised this issue at his recent meeting with UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, and I understand that yesterday Deputy McHugh met the Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, on this issue also. My colleague Jim Higgins, MEP, Ireland's representative on the European Parliament Transport and Tourism Committee, has written to the Commissioner for Transport, Siim Kallas, and the Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, on the issue and will shortly meet the chairman of the European Parliament Transport and Tourism Committee to discuss the matter.

I encourage Sinn Féin Deputies to ensure their party colleagues use their good offices in Northern Ireland and in the House of Commons to encourage the British Government to accede to our position on this matter.

With regard to Deputy McHugh's suggestion, a HGV road user charge group was set up across Departments and is due to report by the middle of this year. The group will explore all options, including the feasibility of joining existing regimes such as Eurovignette and the new UK HGV user levy.

Deputy Wallace refers to commercial vehicle roadworthiness, CVR, testing and cabotage. The Road Safety Authority has undertaken a comprehensive programme of reform of CVR testing. Conformity with vehicle standards is fundamental to our safety agenda. The previous system was introduced 30 years ago and is no longer fit for purpose. Specific concerns were raised by the industry about the testing of trailers under the new regime. I am pleased to report that my officials, the RSA and the Irish Road Haulage Association met to discuss these concerns and they have been satisfactorily dealt with.

I have had consultations with my UK counterpart to discuss cabotage carried out by Irish hauliers in the UK. Ultimately, the issue is that the British Government is taking a very strict interpretation of EU cabotage rules and that is impacting greatly on the ability of Irish hauliers to operate in the UK. The current cabotage regulations are too restrictive, inappropriate, anti-competitive and represent undue interference in the free market. However, while the current regulations are in place, the British Government’s enforcement actions, while unwelcome, are legal.

There are a number of issues. The UK interpretation of the movement of unaccompanied trailers seems unfair. It is surprising, given the close relationships between Ireland and England, that we cannot come to a better understanding. Nolan Transport, one of the biggest companies in the country, lost two trucks recently. The company is out of pocket to the tune of €300,000 from this issue but claims it was working under Irish guidelines set by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport when the trucks were seized. There is little doubt the Irish hauliers have been looking at the difference it costs to run a truck in Ireland and in the UK on an annual basis, a difference that amounts to €31,000. It beggars belief.

Will the Minister consider balancing the lorry road user levy that has been introduced by taxing the lorries coming south from the North and compensating the lorries going north from the South? This will achieve some fairness.

That suggestion certainly violates the Single European Act so I cannot consider something that is unlawful. Cabotage is wrong. We are supposed to have a free market and the free movement of goods and services across the European Union. If it were up to me, I would get rid of cabotage rules altogether. The European Commission is also in favour of doing that provided we have similar safety and social standards across the European Union. It should and could be done but, unfortunately, some of large member states take a protectionist view of this and do not want other countries' hauliers operating in their domestic markets. One difficulty in finding a solution is that it is not possible to have a special arrangement between Ireland and the UK. That would run against European treaties. There can be special arrangements between two or three countries, like Benelux, but only if they predate European treaties. Any concession the UK authorities grant to Ireland, or vice versa, must be granted to every country in the EU, including Romania and Portugal.

The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications meets after this session and the Irish Road Haulage Association will appear before it. Much of what has been discussed will be dealt with at the meeting, which will afford the group an opportunity to outline its position. One of the reasons I tabled Question No. 9 was the user levy being introduced by the UK and its impact in the North. The last time we spoke in the House on the matter, the Minister was to meet his counterpart in London on 20 February to discuss the matter. Can the Minister explain the outcome of that meeting?

The A3 and the A37 are already excluded and one of the biggest issues is whether we can get confirmation that the A5, connecting Donegal and Derry to Dublin, is also to be excluded. Others have clearly indicated the impact this is having on the haulage sector, but a number of haulage companies along the Border are considering relocating and registering their businesses in Northern Ireland. That will have an impact on the tax take and requires a more proactive approach from the Government in trying to find a resolution. There was an expectation or an understanding that the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, would examine the whole road tax issue to level the playing pitch between North and South. Can the Minister update us on these points?

I met my UK counterpart, Mr. Hammond, and his officials. They heard me out but made no promises other than to examine the matter further. The Taoiseach's meeting with the Prime Minister was along similar lines. I made the point that we had put money into the A5 already and had committed money for the future. For every argument we have, the UK has a counter-argument and pointed out that our motorways were built with EU Structural Funds, much of which came from British taxpayers. They also pointed out that we impose tolls on HGVs whereas they have no tolls in Northern Ireland and very few in Britain. The solution may exist in the survey suggested by Deputy Dooley, which involves us introducing a user levy and reducing motor tax substantially to compensate for that. That is why a working group, including my Department and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, is examining it and will make recommendations by the summer with a view to doing something in the budget and the Finance Bill at the end of the year.

Sinn Féin has made submissions on this and has been in regular contact with the Northern Ireland Executive and Westminster. Power is in Westminster. Does the Minister think there is a danger that vehicles will be registered for VRT and the NCT in the North? Does the Minister believe the only answer to this is exemptions on roads? We have heard certain roads would be exempt. Is that the only answer? These will be manual checks, followed by cameras using plate recognition software.

We had an argument about penalty points and the legislation required to have these effected, North and South. Does this pose a problem? People will be crossing over and fines of €300 or €1,000 will be imposed. This poses a similar problem to penalty points. We need to know this. The hauliers are saying the extra cost will amount to €1,000 in some cases. There must be an answer. I agree with the Minister that cabotage is the angle to look at.

There is a risk that some haulage firms will register some of their trucks in the North and it may be the case that some have done so already. Others will buy the annual pass. People do not have to pay €10 every day they use UK roads. There is an option of purchasing a heavily discounted annual pass. Some people will do that, depending on how often they cross the Border and go through the UK. We must move towards introducing a similar system to level the playing field. The system in the UK is an old one and is out of date, based on a charge per day, whereas other countries have done so on the basis of distance, using GPS.

The idea is that people pay for the roads they use and with GPS it would be possible to charge more appropriately for the use of the roads. That may be the road we go down.

In the short time available I will try to be as specific and constructive as possible. I acknowledge the Minister's role - I believe he made first contact on the issue approximately 18 months ago. Speaking off the record, people within the authorities in the United Kingdom have said this is a sin of omission. However, acknowledging this off the record is not good enough and still does not help us to get over the problem. The parameters of the Good Friday Agreement go beyond North-South aspects and also encompass east-west aspects. The British Government in Westminster, as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, has a responsibility here in acknowledging that it has not taken in the wider impact and effects of this law which came into force yesterday morning.

There is still time to be creative on this issue. The secondary legislation has not been passed in Northern Ireland yet. I agree with the Minister that there is a role for the Northern Ireland Executive with regard to this matter. There is a very good work on the part of the Northern Ireland Minister, Mr. Mark H. Durkan, MLA, and his officials in collaboration with the Department here. There is still an opportunity to be creative in some way. One road between Cavan and Monaghan has been granted a derogation. There has been considerable talk about getting a derogation just for the A5. Officials I have spoken to have said it would be hard to monitor and hard for the PSNI to enforce.

I thank the Deputy.

As of yesterday, this is in law and we need to use the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly as a mechanism for considering a more constructive approach rather than the British introducing levies in Westminster and then us reporting in June or July about a possible levy where we will be charging Northern trucks coming down the M1 and they will be charging us going up the A5. It is outside the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and we have joint responsibility at a sovereign level-----

I thank the Deputy.

-----involving both Dublin and Westminster. Ultimately, it was Westminster that introduced this legislation.

We are way over time.

The Northern Ireland Executive is the Legislature that will introduce the secondary legislation.

I want to be able to get to other Deputies who want to ask other questions.

I thank Deputy McHugh for his interest in the matter. I have had several meetings with him involving some hauliers from County Donegal. I welcome him taking the initiative to meet the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Theresa Villiers, MP, about the matter. We will not give up on it and will continue to work on it. As he pointed out, the legislative instrument required to enforce it has yet to be passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly so while it is law, it appears to me that it is not enforceable at this point in time. It may give us a little bit of time to come up with a solution. However, his point is well made that we should try to co-ordinate these matters better at inter-ministerial level and also through the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. It is worth bearing in mind that it is no longer possible to have special arrangements between the UK and Ireland unless they pre-exist the signing of the European treaties so anything that is done will have to agree with European law.

Roads Maintenance

Jim Daly

Ceist:

8. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will support a pilot scheme to alter the strategic approach taken by local authorities of maintaining rural roads by targeting the maintenance of verges and watercourses on local roads with a view to minimising the damage caused by surface water run off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15148/14]

The old maxim states, "If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got". The crisis of our country roads has reached breaking point and it is high time for us to take a fresh look at how we maintain our roads. I made a proposal, to which the question relates, that 2% of the road tax collected in County Cork be used to complete serious drainage maintenance on 1,000 km of roadway. However, until we take the water off the roadways, the €330 million that the Department allocated to the local authorities will have been wasted.

I thank the Deputy.

We have to take the water off the roadways. I am not seeking to get the Minister to say that he will allow-----

We are over time.

-----or encourage the authorities, but I hope he would direct the authorities because with the €330 million allocated the Department has a responsibility to ensure the local authorities do not simply put tarmac on top of tarmac but will take the water off the roads to ensure the maintenance of those roads.

I agree with the Deputy that drainage is an issue of particular importance that local authorities need to give consideration to in their work programmes. Indeed, last year I made a specific allocation for proper drainage work in order to protect pavement surfaces to focus their attention on this area.

However, it must be stated that the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority concerned.

In January, I announced that €331.9 million was being provided to local authorities for the maintenance and improvement of regional and local roads in 2014. This year, I decided to give local authorities increased flexibility. I reduced the number of grant categories and increased the amount allocated under the discretionary grant heading which will facilitate the transfer of funds between key grant categories where local authorities need this. This gives greater flexibility to local authorities to focus their expenditure on drainage if they so wish.

In the context of the Government's political reform agenda, the Government's policy has been to transfer more powers and autonomy to local authorities. Instead of giving directions to them, I would rather allow them to make decisions for themselves, particularly when it comes to local and regional roads.

I thank the Minister. I also acknowledge his proactive steps to date in allowing discretion in this area. That is very much welcomed by the area engineers on the ground and increased discretion will always be welcome.

However, we have a responsibility to the taxpayer and €330 million is being poured into the roads on resurfacing and doing minor maintenance works in many cases. Anybody who works on the roads or uses them will agree that the water needs to be taken off the roads. For the past 20 years the local authorities have not taken the water off the roads. They have not cleared the drains and have not allowed the drainage to occur. While that continues, all the money we pour into local roads will be wasted. I hope the Minister takes a more proactive role. While I take his point about local government reform, if the Department is allocating €330 million we have a responsibility to ensure that at the very least there should be a prerequisite that the water should be taken off the roads to ensure that any maintenance works will last into the future.

It is worth pointing out that the €330 million represents the State road grants that come from the Department via the motor tax. Local authorities can add their own resources to that - some are very good and some are very bad. For every €1 that the Government gives Fingal County Council for local and regional roads, that council matches it with €2. Other counties are considerably worse - only matching every €1 from central government with 10 cent. There is a big issue for candidates in the local authority elections to commit to putting more of their discretionary resources into roads, particularly when it comes to the property tax revenues, 80% of which will stay local from next year. I encourage Deputies to make that point to councillors and county managers when they meet them.

The bigger-picture problem here is, of course, that even with the money allocated by the Department and that put in by the local authorities, it is simply not enough. We are well short of where we need to be in terms of road maintenance. I am concerned that because of inadequate resources we are storing up bigger problems for the future.

Question No. 9 answered with Question No. 7.

Community Involvement Scheme

Pat Breen

Ceist:

10. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the community involvement scheme; if the scheme will be re-introduced this year; and when he expects funding to be made available to local authorities for same. [15043/14]

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

16. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will run a community involvement scheme in 2014; and when local authorities will be informed of the matter. [15119/14]

Anthony Lawlor

Ceist:

17. Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will run a community involvement scheme in 2014 and when local authorities will be informed on the matter. [15045/14]

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

22. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he intends on operating a community involvement scheme for 2014; the types of projects that would be eligible under the scheme; and when it is envisaged that local authorities will be notified. [15126/14]

Pat Deering

Ceist:

32. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the review of the community involvement scheme will be complete; if there will be an allocation of funding for the current year; if so, when same will be announced; if he will consider a similar review of the local improvement scheme to include local contributions and voluntary labour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14992/14]

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

57. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will run a community involvement scheme in 2014 in view of the useful projects completed in 2013; if so, when local authorities will be informed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15123/14]

This is an issue that affects many rural Deputies and I understand that a number of Deputies have tabled similar questions. The success of the community involvement scheme last year, particularly in my county, Clare, was tremendous. Many roads that would not normally be maintained were covered by the scheme, including culs-de-sac and yellow roads. I ask the Minister to continue the scheme in 2014. In 2013, some €2.3 million was allocated to the scheme, which proved a tremendous success.

I thank the Deputy.

Even the engineers in Clare County Council welcome it. I ask the Minister to continue it this year and perhaps provide additional funding to continue the good work done by local authorities.

We are running short of time and I understand the Minister is taking a number of questions together.

There are so many of them with the same question, it is clear the answer is going to be positive. The Minister is still trying to tell me he does not co-ordinate the questions.

Deputy Dooley is very cynical.

We are wasting time.

I would say the press releases have gone out already.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 10, 16, 17, 22, 32 and 57 together.

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in this area is a statutory function of each road authority. Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources, supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

My Department launched a pilot community involvement scheme, CIS, in 2013 for works on regional and local roads. The scheme was aimed at works on local roads which would usually only be considered for funding towards the end of a council’s road programme after routes with heavier traffic volumes had been dealt with. This is a voluntary scheme and is based on community contributions in the range of 20% to 50%.

I allocated more than €2.3 million to a number of local authorities in 2014 for previously committed CIS schemes. Following the recent review of the operation of the CIS in 2013, I am pleased to say the findings indicate the pilot scheme proved to be a success. Overall works with a value of almost €9 million were undertaken at a cost to the State of €6.64 million. A total of 299 schemes were completed in 2013, resulting in more than 173 km of improved roads.

Given the success of the scheme in 2013 in making available moneys go further, I can confirm that I have decided to allocate additional funding of €4.5 million to local authorities in 2014 for CIS. This extra funding, combined with the €2.3 million allocated in 2014, could see 170 km of additional road improvements. The Department will shortly contact local authorities seeking applications for funding under the 2014 scheme.

Separately, I will not be considering a similar pilot for the local improvements scheme, LIS. I have given local authorities considerable flexibility whereby they may use up to 15% of their discretionary grant, should they wish to do so, towards works on roads that have not been taken in charge. The local contribution for these schemes is 20% of the total cost of the project. In excess of €10 million is available in 2014 for the LIS should local authorities wish to allocate funds from their discretionary grant to such projects.

I thank the Minister for the funding for the scheme this year. It is very good to put in place another €4.5 million, which as he said, will cover 170 km of road. It is very welcome and good news for rural Ireland. I thank the Minister again.

Is it the intention of the Minister to have the community involvement scheme as a permanent feature of the roads programme? This would give the local authorities a great opportunity to plan ahead for a two year or three year programme. When I was on Offaly County Council, the community involvement road works scheme, as it was known, was one on which we were able to plan ahead because we knew it was coming in for each roads allocation. I very much welcome this allocation of almost €7 million, which will be very much welcomed by the local authorities.

Like my colleagues, I welcome this funding. When does the Minister expect to allocate the money to the various counties? Will he write to the counties that have a poor record in taking up this scheme? I particularly refer to my county of Kildare, where last year only two schemes were taken on board. I urge them to be more proactive on an issue such as this.

I welcome the scheme. How will the money be distributed? Will it be according to the number of schemes per county or so much per county? While I welcome the money that has been allocated, I am disappointed with the Minister's answer in regard to the LIS. In the past, all the roads schemes were considered as one. Some schemes were taken in charge by the council and others were not, and there is also the question of private roads versus public roads given it is very difficult to distinguish between one and the other. Will the Minister reconsider the LIS based on the same principles as the CIS?

I welcome the Minister's response on the additional €4.5 million. It is one of the better schemes. Having lodged applications and gone out to landowners in regard to taking in bad bends and bad corners, I know some good work has been done in my county of Galway, especially in my area. It goes down very well with the public and is also very positive in terms of improving road safety. Will the dedication of land still be allowed under that scheme or will it be required that hard cash is given over for these improvements?

I thank the Minister for his positive response. Following on from Deputy Lawlor, it is correct that Kildare County Council only had two applications last year, which was a source of great frustration for us. The point to make is that both were fully utilised and the sum of approximately €40,000 was money well spent on both projects. The extension of the CIS and the extra injection of funds is something we will be better placed to take up in the coming year. I agree it is very important the Minister would write to the local authorities as soon as possible to make them aware of this. The success of last year's project and the positive results in the review mean this makes a lot of sense if one lives on one of these roads. People have shown an appetite to make a small contribution towards fixing up a road that would otherwise not get done. It is a practical solution and one I very much welcome.

I will certainly consider putting it on a permanent footing. It was always intended to be a two year pilot. We will be coming to the end of the two years shortly and we will put it on a permanent footing so long as things continue to work well this year.

I do not have all the details of the scheme but contact will be made with the local authorities in the next few weeks with all the details, and I will ask that this be copied to Deputies. We will certainly put pressure on or encourage councils to apply. As was pointed out by the Deputies from Kildare, only two schemes were funded in Kildare as against 19 in Meath, for example, and while there was one in Waterford, there were 29 in Cavan. There is certainly more scope for applications from different counties.

I acknowledge the role of the Minister of State, Deputy Kelly, in this regard. While the funding comes from the roads budget, which is under my control, the initial initiative for this scheme came from him last May. I want to put that on the record.

Written Answers follow Adjournment.