I welcome the opportunity to speak on this issue. The aviation sector is a critically important one for a small open economy such as Ireland's. Key to supporting this industry is ensuring that, as a nation and Government, we have sufficient airport capacity and sufficient infrastructure in place. We need to have our capacity right and our infrastructure in place to ensure we have sustainable development going forward. We need to have it in place to enable IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to attract foreign direct investment for the proper and sustainable development of the capital city and the eastern seaboard and all counties served by Dublin Airport, including my constituency of Longford-Westmeath. Increased connectivity is extremely important. The key to all of this is the roll out and construction of the second runway at Dublin Airport. I am thinking back to a Topical Issue debate initiated by my colleagues, Deputy Clare Daly and Deputy Broughan, in June 2016 about EU regulation and the need for a competent authority to deal with noise regulation at Dublin Airport. I refer to a priority question I tabled to the Minister on Wednesday, 2 November 2016. Key to this is that the residents who are affected want to know who is the competent authority dealing with noise regulations. When I raised this issue in November 2016, the Minister gave me an answer. He accused me of being alarmist.
The Deputy is being a little bit alarmist. There is one certainty. The runway will be built. What is uncertain, as the Deputy correctly said, is the exact timeframe because we are not certain that primary legislation will not be required. It is unlikely, but it is possible. If this is done by way of a statutory instrument, it will all be over by Christmas. If primary legislation is by any chance necessary, it will be done very early in the new year. Those are the certainties.
That is what the Minister said to me almost 12 months ago. We are 12 months on and we still have no certainties. The lack of progress on this is having a huge impact. Dublin Airport is at capacity. It will have severe negative economic impact on the wider area. Can the Minister confirm to the House when the second runway will be up and operational? Can he confirm it will be operational, as previously promised, by the first quarter in 2020? Will he confirm the Irish Aviation Authority remains the Government's choice as the competent authority to deal with noise regulation? If it is still the Government's choice to deal with it, can he confirm 18 months on whether a statutory instrument will be required? If so, when will it be published? If primary legislation is needed, when can we expect to debate it on the floor of the Dáil?