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Thursday, 7 Nov 2013

Written Answers Nos. 218-228

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (218)

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

218. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Health when he will introduce the scheme to replace the motorised vehicle grant scheme for persons with disabilities; if this will be done as a matter of priority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47524/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Conscious of the position of the Ombudsman that the Motorised Transport Grant Scheme was illegal in the context of the Equal Status Acts the grant was closed on the 26th February earlier this year. The scheme remains closed.

An inter-departmental group, chaired by the Department of An Taoiseach has been working to develop detailed proposals for the operation of a new statutory scheme for consideration by Government.

Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (219)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

219. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if and when a medical card will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47592/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (220)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

220. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the position regarding determination of medical card in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47594/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (221)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

221. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the procedure to be followed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who recently received a reminder that their medical card was under review; if such review is independent of their parents' medical card in view of the fact that they are aged 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47595/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Tobacco Control Measures

Ceisteanna (222)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

222. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if he will reconsider the proposal for plain packaging for tobacco products (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47625/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, Government approval was received on 28 May 2013 to begin the process of introducing standardised packaging of tobacco products in Ireland.

Research shows that standardised packaging will:

-Increase the noticeability, recall and impact of health warning messages;

-Reduce the ability of packaging to mislead consumers to believe that some products may be less harmful than others; and

-Reduce the attractiveness of the tobacco product, for both adults and children.

Ireland is party to legally binding agreements between the EU and three major tobacco companies which aim to strengthen anti-smuggling measures. In addition, the Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was agreed at the FCTC Conference of the Parties in November 2012, and Ireland will sign and ratify that protocol.

The Office of the Revenue Commissioners is responsible for tackling the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products. Combating this illegal activity is a high priority for Revenue, whose work in this field has been guided in recent years by its Strategy on Combating the Illicit Tobacco Trade 2011-2013. The intention is that a further strategy will be put in place, when the current one comes to an end, to act as the strategic focus for the ongoing extensive work against the smuggling and sale of illicit products.

In relation to packaging, it is important to note that the Revenue Commissioners have advised that the tax stamp, which contains a range of sophisticated security features, is a key means for them to distinguish between legal and illegal products, irrespective of the way in which the cigarettes are packaged.

Driver Licences

Ceisteanna (223)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

223. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide details, in tabular form by local authority, of the number of driver licences issued in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47421/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The following tabular statement provides details of the number of driving licences broken down by licence type issued by each Local Authority in 2012.

Type of Licence

Local Authority

Driving Licence 

Learner Permit

Total

County Councils

 -

 -

 -

CARLOW

5,775

2,748

8,523

CAVAN

7,697

3,169

10,866

CLARE

13,795

4,501

18,296

CORK

57,710

20,718

78,428

DONEGAL

17,176

5,438

22,614

GALWAY

27,239

9,901

37,140

KERRY

17,262

5,977

23,239

KILDARE

20,138

8,628

28,766

KILKENNY

10,093

4,116

14,209

LAOIS

7,449

3,415

10,864

LEITRIM

3,589

1,199

4,788

LIMERICK

16,100

5,183

21,283

LONGFORD

4,168

1,638

5,806

LOUTH

12,086

4,985

17,071

MAYO

14,672

4,700

19,372

MEATH

18,918

7,132

26,050

MONAGHAN

8,069

2,435

10,504

OFFALY

8,568

3,416

11,984

ROSCOMMON

7,086

2,302

9,388

SLIGO

7,296

2,236

9,532

NORTH TIPPERARY

8,603

3,042

11,645

SOUTH TIPPERARY

9,263

3,994

13,257

WATERFORD

7,219

2,307

9,526

WESTMEATH

8,548

3,368

11,916

WEXFORD

17,591

6,476

24,067

WICKLOW

15,196

5,702

20,898

City Councils

 -

 -

 -

DUBLIN

122,834

53,004

175,838

LIMERICK

4,909

2,326

7,235

WATERFORD

4,452

2,175

6,627

TOTAL

483,501

186,231

669,732 

Taxi Regulations

Ceisteanna (224)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

224. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will ensure that the taxi service and the transportation of citizens in hackneys in Trim, County Meath, is adequately policed. [47420/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The regulation of the taxi industry, including enforcement, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Public Transport Regulation Act, 2009. NTA currently has 8 enforcement officers and it carries out enforcement activities nationally in conjunction with An Garda Siochana, whose members are also authorised persons for the purposes of enforcement of the regulations concerning small public service vehicle  (SPSV) services.

In line with the recommendations of the Taxi Regulation Review Report 2011, the Taxi Regulation Act 2013 provides for a suite of enforcement measures with a focus on ensuring the suitability of persons to hold a licence to drive an SPSV and for on-going compliance with the SPSV regulations. Under the Act the enforcement capacity of the NTA can be enhanced through service agreements and provision has also been made so that breaches of SPSV regulations can be brought under the fixed charge notice system operated by An Garda Siochana - this will have a significant impact on the future ‘on-street’ enforcement capability.

The NTA is also the lead agency with responsibility for implementation of the recommendations of the Taxi Regulation Review Report 2011. I have forwarded your Question to the NTA for information and attention. If you have not heard from the NTA within 10 working days please contact my private office.

Rail Services

Ceisteanna (225)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

225. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that people are now sitting for up to three hours on train floors on route Sligo-Dublin 17.05, 07.26 as there are no seats; a family have also reportedly been forced to sit on the ground of the toilets on the 7.26 train as there were no seats, once these trains reached Maynooth there is serious overcrowding; the issue remains that the carriages have been shortened from six to four to save fuel; his views on whether this new system is a breach of health and safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47439/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Irish Rail and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply from the company within ten working days.

Driver Licences

Ceisteanna (226)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

226. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the locations of the new drivers licence centres; if the centres are publicly or privately owned; if lease agreements have been entered into for these centres; the duration of the leases for each individual centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47452/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Following a competitive procurement process, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) awarded a contract for the operation of front office customer services in relation to the National Driver Licensing Service (NDLS) to SGS (Ireland) Ltd. of 29th October 2013, the service will operate from 34 full-time centres and 2 part-time offices around the country. The list of public office locations is available on the RSA website.  

The specific information requested by the Deputy in relation to ownership of the centres is a matter for the RSA. I will ask to RSA to reply directly to the Deputy on this issue and if a response has not been received within 10 days, the Deputy should contact my office. 

Road Projects

Ceisteanna (227)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

227. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will prioritise the building of the new Ballyvourney to Macroom-Ovens road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47457/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for the NRA in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act. Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

The Gathering Events

Ceisteanna (228, 235)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

228. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to build on the success of The Gathering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47458/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jerry Buttimer

Ceist:

235. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the work he and his agencies are carrying out in relation to building on the legacy of The Gathering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47466/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 and 235 together.  

The Gathering Ireland 2013 aimed primarily to generate additional tourist numbers and revenue in 2013.  However, it also aimed to have a longer-term impact.  We set a target of 325,000 visitors and we are well on the way to meeting that, but The Gathering was never just about visitor numbers and revenues.  It is also about community pride and strengthening links with the diaspora. 

The Gathering helped to strengthen existing links with Irish communities abroad and create new connections.  Tourism Ireland will continue to work with the diaspora networks and will include this global family as part of its future promotional work overseas.  The networks and databases created through The Gathering will also remain as a valuable asset to Irish tourism.

A number of Gathering-related events and festivals have already been identified as having potential to run again. Similarly, the success of the Emerald Isle Classic college football game, which was a key part of the marketing campaign for the Gathering, is being built on with next year's game between Penn State – with the largest alumni association in the US - and the University of Central Florida in Croke Park.  

The Gathering also made a vital contribution to the local community. The Gathering network also provided extensive training to more than 2,500 people and these community engagement skills will endure and be available to support other local events.

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