Radiation Monitoring Systems

Ceisteanna (221, 222)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

221. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the timeframe for the transposition of EURATOM 2013/59 into law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7665/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

222. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the primary legislation and-or statutory instruments required for the enactment of EURATOM 2013/59 into law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7666/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 and 222 together.

My Department is responsible for the transposition into Irish law of Council Directive 2013/59 EURATOM laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation (Basic Safety Standards Directive).

The Directive consolidates and updates existing EURATOM provisions for protection against the harmful effects of ionising radiation by replacing five existing Directives and a Commission Recommendation and covers occupational, medical and public exposures.

My Department is transposing those elements that relate to occupational and public exposure, while the provisions dealing with medical exposures are being transposed separately by the Department of Health. I understand that the Department of Health is working to finalise the European Union (Basic Safety Standards for Protection Against Dangers from Medical Exposure to Ionising Radiation) Regulations 2018 in the coming weeks.

The Basic Safety Standards Directive provides for a risk-based graded approach to the regulatory control of radiation sources in place of the one-size-fits-all system of licensing currently operated by the EPA. The new graded approach to licensing will provide an alternative system of registration for low-risk activities resulting in a reduction of the regulatory, financial and administrative burden on current licence holders. The provisions to give effect to the graded approach are set out in the  Radiological Protection (Amendment) Bill which will be published shortly. The Bill also addresses other legal anomalies that have arisen since the 1991 Radiological Protection Act came into force.

The secondary legislation to transpose the remaining elements of the Basic Safety Standards Directive under the remit of my Department has been prepared and will be signed once the Bill is enacted.

Inland Fisheries

Question No. 224 answered with Question No. 26.

Ceisteanna (223)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

223. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures the National Parks and Wildlife Service is taking to ensure effective protection of the north Atlantic salmon in the river Slaney; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3080/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is part of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) comes under the aegis of my Department and is the agency responsible the protection, management and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. In delivering this function, IFI adapts development, protection and environmental/conservation practices to maximise the return on state investment in policing, conserving and developing the resource.

The majority of the fisheries on the River Slaney are in private ownership. Nevertheless, IFI adopts a wide-ranging protection strategy and delivers an associated broad protection programme on the Slaney system encompassing coastal (from Arklow to Bannow Bay), estuarine and freshwater (main channel and tributaries) environments.

Protection measures are delivered through the operation of highly trained, skilled and experienced inland fishery protection and surveillance teams, enabled through deployment of state-of-the-art technology and supporting infrastructure, on a 24 hour, 365 day basis.

The implementation of proven traditional work practices has been augmented by the  increasing use of new  innovative approaches such as kayak and bike patrolling, dog assisted patrolling and covert surveillance using advanced digital technologies. These innovations have assisted in deployment of protection resources and have delivered significantly improved efficiency and effectiveness on the River Slaney system and at a national level. A total of 2,746 person hours were spent on protection patrolling by the IFI staff in 2017 which included kayak, foot, bicycle and vehicle patrols on the main channel of the River Slaney, its tributaries and some other small coastal rivers.

IFI has established a wide-ranging network of stakeholders who liaise with staff regarding possible illegal activity on the River Slaney system. IFI has also experienced year on year increases in reports received to its 24 hour emergency telephone hotline. IFI staff respond to, and act on, all valid communications and information relating to poaching on the River Slaney system received via the 24 hour emergency telephone hotline and other communications and information sources. All this facilitates pre-emptive action by Fisheries Protection Teams when a potential threat is identified.

IFI operates a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents -1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.

In the case of serious infringements of fisheries legislation, IFI initiates prosecution proceedings, in some instances in conjunction with the Gardaí. Gardaí have pursued 4 cases in conjunction with IFI arising from incidents in 2017. In addition, a system of "Fixed Charge Notices" also facilitates enforcement of fisheries legislation without recourse to the Courts process. This system has enhanced the regulatory capacity of IFI and has improved levels of compliance nationally.

Question No. 224 answered with Question No. 26.

National Broadband Plan Funding

Ceisteanna (225)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

225. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if extra resources will be allocated to facilitate the roll-out of broadband across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7464/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. Today 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. By the end of this year that number will rise to nearly 8 out of 10 premises and by 2020, 9 out of 10 premises or 90% of premises will have access to a high speed broadband connection. This will be achieved via a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention.

My Department is in a formal procurement process to select a company who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State intervention area. When the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for Government, a contract will be awarded and the network rollout will commence.

In September 2015 the Government agreed on and published its 6 year Capital Plan, Building on Recovery, which included an allocation of €275m for the State led Intervention under the NBP. This provides the initial stimulus required to deliver the Government's intervention. Funding of €75m has also been committed through the European Regional Development Fund.

Further funding will be required over the lifetime of the proposed 25 year contract to build, maintain and operate the broadband network in the State Intervention Area.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Ceisteanna (226)

John Lahart

Ceist:

226. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when broadband will be rolled out to areas (details supplied) in Dublin 24; the timeframe for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7267/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. Today 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. By the end of this year that number will rise to nearly 8 out of 10 premises and by 2020, 9 out of 10 premises or 90% of premises will have access to high speed broadband.

In April 2017 I published an updated High Speed Broadband Map which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie. This map shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

In April 2017, I also signed a Commitment Agreement with eir in relation to its plans to provide High speed broadband to 300,000 premises in rural areas on a commercial basis. eir has committed to completing the rollout by the end of this year.  Information on eir's planned rural deployment is available at http://fibrerollout.ie/eircode-lookup/. A copy of the Commitment Agreement is available on my Department's website www.dccae.gov.ie.

Quarterly updates on eir's rural deployment are published on this website. Although deployment figures for Q4 2017 have not yet been verified by my Department’s teams, I understand eir has passed a total of 121,000 premises to date.

The High Speed Broadband Map is colour coded and searchable by address/eircode:

- The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP and are the subject of an ongoing procurement process.

- The BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

- The LIGHT BLUE areas represent eir's commercial rural deployment plans to rollout high speed broadband to 300,000 premises by the end of this year as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with me in April 2017.

Premises in the areas referred to by the Deputy fall into all three of these categories. Individuals can visit my Department’s High Speed Broadband Map at www.broadband.gov.ie and enter their eircode to find out which category their premises falls into.

My Department is in a formal procurement process to select a company who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State intervention area. That procurement process is now at an advanced stage. When the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for Government, a contract will be awarded and the network rollout will commence.

In the interim, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing to strengthen. These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities. The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements with operators and clearing obstacles to developing infrastructure. There is a link to a list of these local Broadband Officers on my Department's website.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (227)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

227. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the assurances he has that a company (details supplied) as the sole remaining bidder in the tendering process for the national broadband plan will not substantially alter the financial terms pertaining to the successful tender; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7338/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. Today 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. By the end of this year that number will rise to nearly 8 out of 10 premises and by 2020, 9 out of 10 premises or 90% of premises will have access to a high speed broadband connection. This will be achieved via a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention.

The procurement process, which is a very robust process with strong risk management throughout, reached an advanced stage prior to eir's withdrawal. "Detailed Solutions" submitted by two bidders on 26th September 2017 had already been evaluated by the NBP specialist team and detailed feedback had been delivered. This means that the process has had the benefit of strong competitive tension up until now, which will help inform the NBP procurement team in ensuring that value for money is achieved at final tender stage. The NBP procurement team also have the benefit and will use comparative costings from similar projects in other Member States together with advice from ComReg, the sectoral regulator with responsibility for the cost of access to the eir pole and duct infrastructure, where relevant to the final bid.

The final contract which will result from the NBP procurement process will ultimately be subject to Government approval on the level of subsidy to be provided once a final bid has been received. This subsidy must also be independently reviewed as providing value for money by the National Development Finance Agency as is required for all Government Capital Projects with a value of more than €20 million. The contract will also be subject to audit and review provisions to ensure that any potential over recovery of State Aid post contract by the bidder can be recovered by the State; this is also a requirement under the European Commission State Aid Guidelines for Broadband being followed by the Department.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Ceisteanna (228)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

228. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the status of the roll-out of the national broadband scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7263/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Delivering high speed broadband to citizens across Ireland remains a firm commitment of mine and of this Government.

The Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. Today 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. By the end of this year that number will rise to nearly 8 out of 10 premises and by 2020, 9 out of 10 premises or 90% of premises will have access to a high speed broadband connection.

My Department is in a formal procurement process to select a company who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State intervention area, which aims to serve those premises where commercial investors will not. One company, eir, publicly withdrew from the procurement process on 30 January. While this is regrettable, it is a commercial decision for eir to make. The specialist NBP procurement team will continue to engage intensively with all relevant stakeholders, including the enet/sse consortium, to ensure the earliest possible achievement of the Government's objective of providing reliable high quality, high speed broadband to all premises in Ireland. When the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for Government, a contract will be awarded and the network rollout will commence.

In the interim, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing to strengthen. These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities. The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements with operators and clearing obstacles to developing infrastructure. There is a link to a list of these local Broadband Officers on my Department's website.

Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (229)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

229. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department has prepared written guidelines for staff and the public on dealing with transgender matters; if they are published; if staff have received training in respect of this; if his Department is participating in or making a submission regarding the review being undertaken in respect of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7564/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department has not published guidelines for staff or the public specifically relating to transgender matters and my Department is not participating in the review of the Act.

All staff in my Department are obliged to treat their colleagues and members of the public with dignity and respect in accordance with the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour. The Code, which is signed by all staff,  provides for non-discrimination under the nine specified grounds, as stated in the Equality Act 2004, which includes gender.

Under the Department's Customer Service Charter, staff in my Department are made aware of the requirement to treat all staff and customers with respect and courtesy. In addition, the Department is committed to the Dignity at Work Policy for the Civil Service which aims to promote respect, dignity, safety, and equality in the workplace.

Dignity at Work training is rolled out to staff of my  Department on a regular basis. In addition, all new staff entering the Department, attend induction training which includes information on customer service and dignity at work policies.

Since it came into operation, no issues relating to the Gender Recognition Act have been brought to the Department's attention by staff, managers or any representative bodies or trade unions. In the event of an issue being brought to my Department's attention, staff in the customer service and human resources areas will treat such issues in accordance with the Act.

Litter Pollution

Ceisteanna (230)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

230. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if there is a provision for sponsoring road rubbish clean up and litter maintenance by businesses with the return of signage endorsing and thanking the businesses for their help. [7592/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The role of my Department, through the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009,  is to provide the legislative framework within which to combat litter pollution. Under the Acts, the primary management and enforcement response to littering rests with Local Authorities, and it is a matter for each Local Authority to decide on the most appropriate public awareness, enforcement and clean-up actions in their area.

When the 2016 National Litter Pollution Monitoring Survey report (http://litter.ie ) identified a very slight deterioration in the litter situation after a number of years of improvement, I took immediate action on the issue by increasing 2017 funding for the Local Authority Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme (ALAGS) by 28% to €884,000. The ALAGS scheme enables Local Authorities to support appropriate local public education and awareness initiatives to tackle both litter and graffiti. In previous years the invitation to submit applications under the scheme has encouraged Local Authorities to consider the development of 'adopt-a-road' styled projects in their functional areas. In 2017, ten of thirty-one Local Authorities received funding under ALAGS for an ‘adopt-a-road’ style scheme.

In 2017, I also increased funding for the National Spring Clean by €40,000 to €225,000. The campaign, now entering its twentieth year, encourages every sector of society to actively participate and take responsibility for litter by conducting clean-ups of their own local environment. I intend to maintain these levels of increased funding for 2018. My Department also supports Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL), and has negotiated anti-litter agreements with the banking industry and the chewing gum industry. My Department also supports the Green Schools Programme, which is key to effecting a long-term change in societal attitudes towards litter disposal.