Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Ceisteanna (59, 60, 61)

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

141 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he intends to take to promote access to traditional walking routes, while also respecting the rights of landowners, in view of the economic benefit that hill walkers bring to the agri-tourism sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3031/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

157 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has received the report of the consultation group established to consider the issue of access to waymarked ways; the main recommendations of the report; if he will publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3026/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

219 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will report on the talks he has held in relation to public access for walkers and hillwalkers. [3161/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141, 157 and 219 together.

I have decided to establish a countryside council to be called "Comhairle na Tuaithe" which will address issues relating to waymarked ways and access to land. This decision follows consideration by the Rural/Agri-Tourism Advisory Group of a report presented recently by the Consultation Group on Access to Waymarked Ways. The establishment of a countryside council was the key recommendation of the report. The report has been published on my Department's website,www.pobail.ie.

I will initiate Comhairle na Tuaithe by reconvening the Consultation Group on Access to Waymarked Ways directly. Subject to receipt of a valid application on behalf of the Rural/Agri-Tourism Advisory Group, to the rural development fund, up to €40,000 is available to enable the initial research, evaluation and pilot actions of Comhairle an Tuaithe to be undertaken by a research-development officer.

I also propose to make provision for maintenance of waymarked or approved locally agreed walks to be included as possible rural services for the purpose of the new rural social scheme.

The rights of farmers in relation to their land and their concerns on liability are critical issues. These and other relevant issues can be debated in Comhairle na Tuaithe.

Question No. 142 answered with QuestionNo. 138.