Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (199)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

199. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if the issuing of a medical card will be expedited in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4918/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Appeals

Ceisteanna (200)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

200. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a person (details supplied) has grounds for appeal with respect to an areas of natural constraint application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4716/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Under the Terms and Conditions of the 2018 Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) applicants must comply with a stocking density retention period of 7 consecutive months within the calendar year.

The person named became an active herd owner on 18 April 2018 and submitted a BPS/ANC application on 10 May 2018. As animals were only moved on to the holding of the person named on 8 June 2018, the person named failed to comply with requirement to retain adequate stock for 7 consecutive months within the calendar year.

An official of my Department has been in touch with the person named and a full review of the circumsrtances of this case will be undertaken.

Greyhound Industry

Ceisteanna (201)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

201. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 796 of 6 November 2018, if the information promised will be provided. [4751/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.

Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

While the issue raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for this organisation, Bord na gCon have informed me that between January and December 2018, 93,545 greyhounds competed in the full racing calendar across sixteen tracks (nine of which are controlled by the Irish Greyhound Board with the others being privately operated and IGB-licensed). In total, this resulted in 353 injuries of varying degree and following veterinary advice, 121 greyhounds were euthanized. This amounted to 0.13% of greyhounds raced in all sixteen tracks combined.

Fisheries Protection

Ceisteanna (202)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

202. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a matter regarding a fish catch (details supplied) in County Kerry will be recognised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4768/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The current prohibition on landing spurdog (picked dogfish) in all EU waters is due to the current condition of the stock. The stock was subject to high harvest rates for more than four decades, and fisheries were not managed during this time. While spurdog is showing some signs of recovery from the historical lows of the mid 2000s, the period is very short in comparison to the longer-term historical decline.

The spawning biomass of this species is at an extremely low level, although conservation measures in recent years have had an impact in terms of stabilising the decline. The species is a long-lived, slow growing and late maturing species and is, therefore, particularly vulnerable to over-fishing. The scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) is that there should be no targeted fisheries in 2019 and 2020 and that any possible provision for landing of by-catch should only happen as part of a management plan, including close monitoring of the stock and fisheries. The Marine Institute fully supports the ICES advice and has very serious concerns about the state of the stock.

A very limited quota is available (53t for Ireland) for use only in pilot schemes designed to reduce such by-catches. Any such schemes are subject to EU Commission approval and must relate to reducing by-catches of spurdog in other fisheries i.e. the targeting of spurdog would remain prohibited. Such a scheme for spurdog avoidance was explored by the Marine Institute and, following consultation with industry, a draft pilot scheme was submitted for review to the Commission’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).

STECF raised a number of queries about the proposed scheme, in particular on whether or not it would result in a reduction in catches of spurdog relative to the catches that would occur in the absence of a scheme. Having considered the STECF comments and concerns, the Marine Institute reviewed the draft scheme and has now advised that Ireland should not proceed further with the spurdog avoidance scheme but rather work collaboratively with other Member States and the Commission to explore possible management measures going forward.

Fish Discards

Ceisteanna (203)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

203. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4771/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As Deputy Healy-Rae will already be aware, this year is the first full year of the implementation of the landing obligation, or 'discards ban' under the Common Fisheries Policy. The objective of the landing obligation is to eliminate the wasteful and unsustainable practice of discarding fish at sea. This will result in benefits both to the marine environment and to fishermen alike, securing fish stocks for the future. The application of the landing obligation for all Irish stocks in 2019, coupled with a move towards fishing at maximum sustainable yield levels (rebuilding stocks to a sustainable optimum), are very positive developments for fishermen and for the broader goal of sustainability.

In order to support the rollout of the landing obligation, in December 2017 I announced a quota balancing policy for pelagic stocks. Quota balancing means that where a vessel exceeds its catch limit for a particular stock during a fishery management period, a balancing adjustment is made from a future catch limit for that vessel. Quota balancing is a management, conservation and rational exploitation measure that will aid in matching catch limit to actual catch to support the landing obligation requirements.

Mackerel is the main pelagic stock targeted by Irish fishermen. Preliminary data provided for 2018 Mackerel landings indicated that where vessels landed over their 2018 catch limits, most of these vessels landed less than 10% over their 2018 catch limit for Mackerel. A very small number of vessels landed far in excess of their 2018 catch limits for Mackerel. Thus, to allow for quota balancing, I agreed that initial 2019 quota allocations for mackerel be restricted to a lower level. A multiplying factor applies in Quota Balancing so that the greater the excess catch when compared to the catch limit, the larger the balancing adjustment that will be made. In a small number of cases, where vessels caught far in excess of their allocated catch limit in 2018, their 2019 catch limit was reduced accordingly.

However, I have made provision for a maximum quota balancing adjustment, so that no more than 80% of the catch limit available to a vessel for a relevant pelagic stock should be applied in an individual fishery management period. This would mean that vessels would receive as a minimum 20% of the catch limit for that pelagic stock that would have been available to the vessel for that fishery management period had quota balancing not been applied. The licence holder will be granted an Authorisation and/or Notification to fish the reduced quantity of that stock for the fishery management period and any outstanding quota balancing adjustment still remaining at the end of the fishery management period is carried over into a subsequent fishery management period until a full adjustment is made.

I would like to assure the Deputy that the quota balancing policy was introduced following discussions with the Quota Management Advisory Committee and a public consultation and received the support of the majority of fishing representative organisations.

Licence holders were sent the provisional details of quota balancing for Mackerel last week and advised that no further action was required on their behalf, unless they did not agree with the data on their provisional quota balancing statement. If licence holders did not agree with the data, they were advised that enquiries were to be made by a set date. Declared Landings/Trips enquiries are to be submitted to the SFPA while Catch Limit(s)/Calculation of Balancing Adjustment enquiries are to be submitted to the Department. In the event of a non-reply by this set date, all data (as submitted by the Master of the Vessel) will be deemed final for the purposes of Quota Balancing only. Licence holders were further advised that a final quota balancing statement will issue after the final date for enquires has passed, and that and a balancing adjustment will be made, at the earliest possible opportunity, against future catch limit(s).

Quota balancing operates independent of any action being considered or taken by the control authorities and the data being used is that logged by the master of the fishing vessel in the landing declaration submitted at the end of each trip for each vessel.

Warmer Homes Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (204)

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

204. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an application for the insulation of a house under the SEAI warmer homes scheme by a person (details supplied) will be considered; if the application will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4714/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) operates the Warmer Homes Scheme on behalf of my Department. Individual applications to the Warmer Homes Scheme are an operational matter for SEAI and as the Minister I have no role in such matters.

However, to be of assistance to the Deputy, officials in my Department have been in contact with the SEAI and they have advised me that at present there is no application for the address provided.

The Warmer Homes Scheme provides a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty, who meet the eligibility criteria. In addition homes must be owned by the applicant and must be built before 2006. The upgrade measures to a home under the scheme depend on a technical survey carried out by SEAI on the home. This survey will recommend which measures are appropriate for the home. The scheme is not available to local authority tenants, as those properties are covered by the Social Housing Investment Programme.

The waiting time for applicants is determined by the demand for the scheme and also by the upgrade measures recommended by the SEAI survey of the home.

There is also another scheme run by the Department of Housing which may be of assistance. The Housing Aid for Older People scheme can provide upgrades such as dry lining and the repair and replacement of windows and doors to people who are aged over 66 and are living in poor housing conditions. Applications for this scheme are assessed on the basis of financial and medical need. The Housing Section of Dublin City Council at http://www.dublincity.ie/housing-and-community-i-own-my-home-section/grants-homeowners can provide further information on this scheme.

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (205)

John Curran

Ceist:

205. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the scale and timeline for a project by ESB eCars to develop a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle fast charging network capable of facilitating large-scale electric vehicle uptake over the next decade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4825/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Providing adequate charging infrastructure is critical to ensure the continued growth in the uptake of electric vehicles.

There are currently 668 standard public charge points as a part of the ESB eCars Network and a limited number provided by local authorities and retail outlets. There are also 77 fast chargers, mainly on national routes.

Under the first call for applications from the Climate Action Fund, I approved funding of up to €10 million to support ESB eCars to develop a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle fast charging network.

The project successfully completed the assessment stage and is now going through the validation stage. On completion of this stage further detail on the project, including information in relation to the location of chargers and a timeline, will be set out.

The key elements of the project include:

- Six high speed charging hubs on motorways capable of charging eight vehicles simultaneously

- 16 high speed charging hubs capable of charging four vehicles simultaneously

- Additional high power chargers at 34 current fast charger locations

- Upgrading 50 standard chargers to fast chargers

- Replacing up to 264 standard chargers (totalling 528 charge points) to next generation high reliability models.

At the end of 2017, there were 3,799 electric vehicles (including battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) on the road in Ireland. This increased to 7,647 at the end of 2018 – a doubling of the number of electric vehicles on the road. It is estimated that the implementation of the ESB eCars project will provide the necessary fast charging infrastructure to support at least 40,000 electric vehicles.

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (206)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

206. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of homes upgraded under the warmth and well-being scheme per annum since its inception; the average cost per home; and the amount spent to date under the scheme. [4862/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme was established in 2016 as a joint energy, social and health policy initiative with the Department of Health and cross Government support from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The Scheme was designed to objectively measure and validate the health and wellbeing impacts of improving the living conditions of vulnerable people living in energy poverty with chronic respiratory conditions, demonstrating the multiple benefits of energy efficiency. The scheme was established as a pilot in HSE Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 7, specifically Dublin 8, 10, 12, 22 & 24.

In total, 886 homes in the pilot area have now been upgraded with an investment of €19.26m to end 2018. The average cost of the scheme is €22,000 per home. An independent analysis is being carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the Health Service Executive. Interim findings will be available this year, which will help guide future decisions on the programme.

The number of homes completed under the scheme for each year 2016 – 2018 is set out in the following table.

2016

2017

2018

Better Energy Warmth & Wellbeing Scheme

No. of Homes Completed

No. of Homes Completed

No. of Homes Completed

Dublin

71

360

455

Illegal Dumping

Ceisteanna (207, 208, 209)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

207. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of applications received for the 2018 anti-illegal dumping initiative by county; the number of successful applicants by county; the amount distributed to date by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4864/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

208. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount spent under the 2017 anti-dumping initiative specifically on information and communications technology enforcement tools such as CCTV and drones; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4865/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

209. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of applications received for the 2017 anti-illegal dumping initiative by county; the number of successful applicants by county; the amount distributed by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4866/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 to 209, inclusive, together.

The information requested by the Deputy is available on my Department’s website at the following links:

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/documents/ADI%202017%20Project%20County%20Breakdown.pdf

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/documents/20190129-ADI%202018%20Final.pdf

In 2018, 216 anti-dumping initiative applications were submitted, 201 of which were approved by the regional steering committees who select the projects using the criteria developed by the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities. In 2017, 245 applications were received with 204 approved for funding.

Rail Services

Ceisteanna (210)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

210. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of his engagement on the proposed plans for free inter-rail across the EU for students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4861/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The proposal for free InterRail across the EU referred to by the Deputy is a European Commission initiative which was launched following a proposal from the European Parliament. I understand that just over 14,500 free travel passes have been allocated to 18-year-olds from across the European Union for travel in 2019.

The passes were allocated by means of an online competition and the successful applicants will be able to travel up to a maximum of 30 days and visit up to four different country destinations between April and October of this year.

The Commission is planning to launch the next application round in summer 2019. Specific dates and further information will be announced on the European Youth Portal in due course.

Driver Test Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (211)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

211. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a driver test for a person (details supplied) will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4724/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The driving test service is run by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and my Department has no input into the scheduling of appointments.

Learner drivers on their first learner permit must wait 6 months before sitting a driving test. There is no requirement to wait a further 6 months to sit the test again. The current average wait time for the Limerick test centre is 11 weeks. I would like to draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that it has been illegal for learner drivers to drive unaccompanied at any time since 2007.

The RSA provides a facility whereby driving test cancellations are made available to applicants who may need an urgent appointment. An applicant should contact the RSA directly and request that they be placed on the cancellation list. In order to be fair to all applicants, cancellation places will be assigned in order of the date of placement on the list. If an applicant requires a driving test urgently for employment or emigration purposes, the RSA will make every effort to accommodate them.

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (212)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

212. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the planned upgrade works to the N4 route between Mullingar and Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4778/19]

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. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

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

Driver Test Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (213)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

213. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons awaiting driver test dates by county; the average waiting time; and the longest waiting time in tabular form. [4794/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The average waiting time for each driving test centre, and the longest waiting time, is available on the Road Safety Authority website at www.rsa.ie.

I have referred your question re the number of persons awaiting a driving test date to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Driver Test Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (214)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

214. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons who have been given driver test dates by county; the average time between receiving the date and the test date itself; and the longest waiting time between receiving the test date itself in tabular form. [4795/19]

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.

Driver Test Data

Ceisteanna (215)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

215. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of driver test centres; and the location of each centre by county in tabular form. [4796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This information is available on the Road Safety Authority website www.rsa.ie.

Driver Test Data

Ceisteanna (216)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

216. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of additional driver testers recruited each month since January 2018 by county; the location each tester has been stationed to work; and the number of testers required in each centre in order for them to be fully staffed. [4797/19]

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.

Driver Test Regulations

Ceisteanna (217)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

217. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the travel options available to persons who are awaiting a driver test date in rural areas that do not have an adequate public transport system and who need to get to educational institutes and work but are not in a position to travel to same with a passenger who is in possession of a full driver licence. [4798/19]

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.

However, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public transport passenger services nationally, including the provision of bus services in rural areas. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of Local Link services funded under the Rural Transport Programme. Of course, these are only some of the mobility solutions available to people. Others include carsharing and active travel.

I accept that the legal requirement for learner drivers to be appropriately accompanied at all times can be the source of some inconvenience in the short term. I remind the Deputy, however, that the purpose of this measure is to allow learners a safe space in which to develop the skill, knowledge and experience necessary to pass the driving test, as well as to protect the lives of other road users - particularly the vulnerable - until the learner has gained sufficient skills and experience to qualify for a licence. In the interest of producing safe and responsible drivers, and protecting the lives of all road users, it is critical that this supervised learning process be sustained.

Rural Transport Services

Ceisteanna (218, 219)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

218. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the areas catered for by LocalLink; and his plans to extend the service in the future. [4799/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

219. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he will publish the findings of a review into the evening services pilot by LocalLink. [4800/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 and 219 together.

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 securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme, which now operates under the Local Link brand.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred the Deputy's Questions to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Taxi Data

Ceisteanna (220)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

220. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of taxi plates in each county nationally. [4810/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including the licensing of taxis, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

Given the particular role of the Authority in these matters, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

Ferry Services

Ceisteanna (221)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

221. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has met with representatives of a company (details supplied) within the past 12 months; and if so, if the decisions to cancel routes between Rosslare and France were discussed. [4833/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I can confirm that I met with representatives from Irish Ferries on 2nd January 2019 where a number of issues were discussed.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (222)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

222. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has meetings planned with representatives of a company (details supplied). [4834/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I have no meetings planned to meet with representatives of Irish Ferries.

Road Traffic Legislation

Ceisteanna (223)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

223. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the law on the use of flashing beacons by moving vehicles; the vehicles permitted and not permitted to use flashing beacons; and the circumstances in which flashing beacons must or must not be used by moving vehicles. [4843/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The law governing the use of flashing beacons is set out in the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) (Blue and Amber Lamps) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 342 of 2006) as amended by the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) (Blue and Amber Lamps) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 695 of 2011). These regulations list the vehicles that are permitted to use flashing beacons and the technical specifications that those beacons must adhere to.

Flashing lights equipped on a vehicle must only be used when and where necessary.

Under the regulations, blue lights may be used on vehicles by:

- the Gardaí Síochána in the performance of their duties;

- the fire services;

- persons providing an ambulance service;

- the Irish Coast Guard, with or without a trailer;

- Marked Military Police vehicles;

- the Irish Prison Service; and

- vehicles used for the delivery or collection of human transplant organs, human blood or human blood products.

Amber lights may be used on a:

- breakdown vehicle;

- road clearance vehicle;

- road works vehicle;

- vehicle used in the provision or maintenance of telephone services or of gas or electricity supply;

- Customs and Excise patrol vehicle; and

- an authorised vehicle used in the collection and disposal of refuse.