Driver Licence Renewals

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (495)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

495. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there is a record of a notification sent in 2000 to a person (details supplied) regarding the need for a medical examination in order to renew a C1 licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20936/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

At the time to which the Deputy refers, driving licensing was the responsibility of the local authorities. As this function has since been transferred to the Road Safety Authority, I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Rail Network Expansion

Ceisteanna (496)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

496. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to extend the rail link from County Sligo to County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20949/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Currently there are no plans to extend the rail network from County Sligo to County Donegal.

Building on the recommendations in the recent Public Investment Management Assessment study and the findings set out in the Rail Review 2016, a continuing key priority for investment in transport under the NDP is to protect the quality of and the investment already made in the existing national rail system, by funding projects that support and maintain safety and service levels in railway operations.

It is also a core priority under the National Planning Framework to enhance and upgrade accessibility between urban centres of population and their regions, in parallel with the initiation of compact growth of urban centres.

Under the National Development Plan (NDP), there is an objective is to complete the improving road linkages so that every region, particularly those in the North-West, are linked to Dublin by a high quality road network. Furthermore, another major objective is to make substantial progress in linking our regions and urban areas not just to Dublin but to each other. The NDP also recognises that over the period of the Plan it will be very important to examine the role inter-urban rail network can play in enhancing regional connectivity.

As part of the Estimates process, the multi-annual capital allocations will be reviewed and extended annually on a rolling basis to cover the coming 5 year period. This will provide Government with an annual opportunity to review the allocations in light of any implementation issues arising and/or new priorities which may emerge during implementation of the NDP. The NDP also commits to a full mid-term review of the Plan in 2022 to allow Government take stock of progress and allow it to review and reaffirm its investment priorities.

Rail Network Expansion

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (497)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

497. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to extend the DART service to Donabate. [20964/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the National Transport Authority's (NTA) 'Transport Strategy for the GDA 2016-2035' proposes implementation of the overall DART Expansion Programme. As outlined in the recently published National Development Plan (NDP), the DART Expansion Programme is a series of projects that will create a full metropolitan area DART network for Dublin with all of the lines linked and connected.

The NDP investment provides for the delivery of fast, high-frequency electrified services - to Drogheda on the Northern Line; to Maynooth and M3 Parkway on the Maynooth/Sligo Line; and to Celbridge/Hazelhatch on the Kildare Line - while continuing to provide DART services on the South-Eastern Line as far south as Greystones. The DART Expansion Programme will also provide for the delivery of other priority elements including a move to a 10 minute peak-time service and the introduction of additional train fleet including the expansion of the fleet with new diesel electric trains. The electrification of the Northern Line as far as Balbriggan, incorporating Donabate as well as Rush & Lusk and Skerries, is expected to be delivered in 2022.

Noting the NTA's responsibility for implementation of public transport in the Greater Dublin Area, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Fáilte Ireland Funding

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (498)

John Deasy

Ceist:

498. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount drawn down to date under the grants scheme for large tourism projects, established in mid-2016 by Fáilte Ireland, by county; and his plans for further funding. [20979/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department's role in relation to tourism lies in the area of national tourism policy. It is not directly involved in the management or development of individual tourism projects. These are operational matters for the Board and Management of Fáilte Ireland. While the Department provides funding to Fáilte Ireland to invest in tourism, it has no role in the administration of Fáilte Ireland's tourism capital programmes.

I have accordingly referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply to the Deputy. Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Fáilte Ireland Funding

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (499)

John Deasy

Ceist:

499. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the details of the successful applications under Fáilte Ireland’s conference financial support scheme over the past three years. [20980/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department's role in relation to tourism lies in the area of national tourism policy. It is not directly involved in the management or development of individual tourism projects. These are operational matters for the Board and Management of Fáilte Ireland. While the Department provides funding to Fáilte Ireland to support bids to attract international conferences to Ireland, it has no role in the administration of Fáilte Ireland's Conference Financial Support Scheme.

I have accordingly referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply to the Deputy. Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Transport Policy

Ceisteanna (500)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

500. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to a campaign established by a group (details supplied) in response to existing transport proposals outlined in the national planning framework under Project Ireland 2040; if his attention has been further drawn to the group's criticism of the exclusion of the western rail corridor project from TEN-T project submissions and the failure to provide adequate investment in Ireland West Airport, Knock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20987/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Western Rail Corridor was originally included under the Transport 21 Initiative and was to be developed in Three Phases. Phase 1 involved the reopening of the 36 mile stretch of railway line between Ennis and Athenry and this is part of the TEN-T comprehensive network. This line was opened to the public in March 2010. Exchequer funding of €106.5 million was approved for Phase 1.

The plan for Phase 2 involved the development of the line from Athenry to Tuam. However, this development together with a number of other transport projects was postponed in 2011 due to the economic and fiscal crisis. Phase 3 involved the development of the line from Tuam to Claremorris.

As the Deputy is aware, both the 'Programme for a Partnership Government' and the recently-published 'National Development Plan' commit to an independent review of the costings for a proposal to extend the existing Western Rail Corridor beyond Athenry. My Department is currently at an advanced stage in developing an approach for progressing such a review in line with these commitments, and I expect to be in a position shortly to decide on the approach to be taken. I am cognisant of the need for stakeholder consultation as part of the process and can assure the Deputy that this will be an integral part of the review's arrangements.

Also looking ahead, the European Commission, in reviewing the implementation of the TEN-T core network by end 2023 and in consultation with Member States, will evaluate whether the core network should be modified to take into account developments in transport flows and national investment planning.

In relation to Ireland West Airport, Knock, as one of our smaller airports that provide scheduled passenger air services, the taxpayer has supported Knock Airport for many years with funding for its operations. This support for Knock, and for the other regional airports, will continue under Project Ireland 2040 through my Department’s Regional Airports Programme. This Programme provides financial support towards safety and security projects and activities at these airports and indeed Project Ireland 2040 recognises that, given its scale of operation, Knock Airport plays a more regional role in terms of international access than the other smaller airports given its location in the North-west.

Driver Test

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (501)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

501. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the RSA accepts payment for driver tests before a date for the test has been confirmed; when a policy of accepting payment prior to the confirmation of a date was introduced; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some persons who pay their test fee are unable to find an available test date in their area using the online calendar on the website until 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21029/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Disabled Drivers Permits

Ceisteanna (502)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

502. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for a disabled parking permit; and when a decision will issue regarding the matter. [21091/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The disabled parking scheme is operated on behalf of my Department by the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) and the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA), who are empowered to issue disabled parking permits.

As Minister, I have responsibility for the regulations under which the scheme operates but details on the status of any individual application can only be addressed by the issuing organisations to which I have sent your enquiry.

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (503)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

503. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the cost, since 2011 to date, of outside consultants used by the NTA, TII and other relevant organisations in the planning of the proposed MetroLink project. [21248/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the development and implementation of public transport in the Greater Dublin Area including the development of a metro scheme.

The recently published National Development Plan (NDP), which was launched earlier this year by Government as part of Project Ireland 2040, brings together the Metro North and Metro South projects, as envisaged by the NTA’s Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 - 2035, into one project called MetroLink.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Ceisteanna (504)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

504. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if an approved sports capital grant application (details supplied) has been finalised following the response to a final query from the Chief State Solicitor's Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21252/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department is in ongoing correspondence with our legal advisors in the Chief State Solicitor’s Office in relation to the 2015 Sports Capital grant allocated to the organisation referred to by the Deputy. While a deed of covenant and a deed of charge is in place to protect the State's investment in the facility, this needs to be updated to take account of the 2015 grant and to include all lands owned by the organisation. As the organisation is a company, the charge must be registered in the Companies Registration Office before formal approval can issue from my Department. My Department will continue to engage with the CSSO in relation to the matter and there will be no undue delay in this regard. Once the grant is formally approved by my Department, the organisation can begin to draw down the relevant funding.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (505)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

505. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of staff in his Department assigned solely or primarily to work on North-South issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21272/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Cross-Departmental cooperation on North/South matters is overseen within my Department by the Tourism Marketing & Impact Assessment Unit and is supported by 1 Principal Officer, 2 Assistant Principals and 1 Higher Executive Officer led by the relevant Assistant Secretary. Responsibility rests within this unit as it also deals with oversight of Tourism Ireland, the only North South body under the aegis of my Department.

Road Improvement Schemes

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (506)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

506. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the road improvement scheme for the N81; if it has been removed from TII funding plans; if so, the way in which this route into Dublin through Blessington was removed from the improvement schedule to the national roads network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21313/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 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 TII in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Road Network

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (507)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

507. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if Galway County Council has submitted an application regarding outstanding issues on the N18 motorway (details supplied). [21344/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 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 TII in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Rural Transport Programme

Ceisteanna (508)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

508. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way in which the extension of the rural transport programme to reduce rural isolation will be proofed to ensure that all routes will be accessible for disabled persons, in view of recommendation 102 of the national disability inclusion strategy to develop proposals on attaching conditions regarding wheelchair accessibility on commercial licensed services. [21375/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport. This includes, since 2012, management of the Rural Transport Programme which now operates under the ‘Local Link' brand.

The NTA has advised that all of the new evening services, announced last week, will use accessible vehicles.

I would also like to advise the Deputy that under Action 254 of "Realising our Rural Potential", the Action Plan for Rural Development, the Government is committed to ensuring that Rural Transport Programme vehicles are accessible, having to regard to all passenger needs.

The NTA recently published its Local Link Rural Transport Programme Strategic Plan 2018 to 2022. The key objective of Priority Area 5, Access for All, is to ensure the provision of fully accessible transport services on all services with a target to achieve at least 95% fully accessible trips by 2020 within the Rural Transport Programme. In this regard the retendering of all existing Local Link services is expected to be concluded shortly and the process has included a provision that all services must be fully wheelchair accessible within 2 years of contract award.

In relation to Action 102 of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS), which is assigned to the NTA, the Authority is undertaking a tender competition for a potential new (single deck) medium distance bus/coach type vehicle which would allow wheelchair users to board with normal ramp access on Bus Éireann PSO services. The vehicles being sought are intended for routes up to 50km, being regional commuter routes and could replace the existing high floor type coach which requires an external wheelchair lift. It will not be possible to definitively confirm the availability of satisfactory vehicles until the tender process concludes.

The conclusions from this tender process will also inform a review by the NTA of the issue of wheelchair accessibility on commercial licensed bus/coach services. Currently there is no requirement on commercial bus operators to provide wheelchair accessible coaches. The NTA intends to publish proposals later this year which will set out minimum accessibility standards for commercial licensed services.

Road Network

Ceisteanna (509)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

509. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if further consideration will be provided to the request for additional funding in respect of the roadworks programme 2018 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21398/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The position remains as outlined to Deputy in response to Parliamentary Questions on 26th April. The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of local authorities, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's 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.

I announced the 2018 regional and local road allocations on 29th January and all grant funding available to my Department has now been allocated. It is a matter for each Council to determine its priorities and decide its work programme on that basis, taking available grant funding and its own resources into account. There is no additional funding available to my Department at present.

Driver Test Waiting Lists

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (510)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

510. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the waiting times, including the expected longest waiting times, for driver tests in each county; and the number of persons awaiting test dates, in tabular form. [21412/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Tourism Funding

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (511)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

511. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if tourism grants are available through Fáilte Ireland for which individuals rather than groups can apply; and if not, his plans to introduce such a scheme. [21424/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department's role in relation to tourism lies in the area of national tourism policy. It is not directly involved in the management or development of individual tourism projects. These are operational matters for the Board and Management of Fáilte Ireland. While the Department provides funding to Fáilte Ireland for investment in tourism, it has no role in the administration of Fáilte Ireland's grant programmes.

I have accordingly referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply to the Deputy. Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Foster Care Agencies

Ceisteanna (512)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

512. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of contracts for services that Tusla has with a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20811/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Each placement with the private foster care agency referred to by the Deputy is the subject of an individual contract on a case by case basis. I am advised by Tusla that as of the 10th May 2018, Tusla has 23 contracts for foster care placements with the company to which the Deputy refers.

It should be noted that children being cared for by a private foster care company remain in the care of Tusla at all times and have a Tusla allocated social worker. The Tusla Foster Care Committee approves all applications by the private company for families to be eligible to foster.