Questions Nos. 1 to 16, inclusive, answered orally.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Questions Nos. 18 and 19 resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (17)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

17. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with the US Congressional delegation that visited Ireland. [19963/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

On 16 April last, I met with a delegation of nine from the US House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

We had a broad-ranging discussion covering Brexit and Northern Ireland, US Immigration Reform and Ireland-US bilateral relations.

Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Neal and the other members of the delegation were unwavering in their support for peace in Northern Ireland, and emphasised their view that Brexit should not impact on the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

I thanked the delegation for their continuing support of Irish immigration priorities including the E3 Visa Bill, which has recently been reintroduced into the US Congress and mentioned also the need to find a solution for the undocumented Irish in the US.

Questions Nos. 18 and 19 resubmitted.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Questions Nos. 21 to 24, inclusive, resubmitted.

Ceisteanna (20)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

20. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent discussions with the British Prime Minister regarding Northern Ireland. [19964/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I spoke briefly with Prime Minister May most recently on 15 May when we attended the Christchurch Call to Action meeting in Paris. Whilst we did not have a substantive meeting on that occasion, we recalled our prior meeting on 24 April when we both attended the funeral of Ms Lyra McKee, in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.

In coming together with other political leaders we paid tribute to Lyra McKee and gave expression to the clear will and determination of all of the people of these islands to reject violence and to support peace and a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland.

At that time Prime Minister May and I agreed to initiate a new round of political talks, involving all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, together with the UK and Irish Governments and we issued a joint statement to this effect on 26 April. The aim of these talks is to re-establish to full operation the democratic institutions of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement - the NI Executive, Assembly and North-South Ministerial Council.

This talks process started on 7 May in Stormont, led by Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD, and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley. As Taoiseach and Prime Minister, we have agreed to review progress at the end of May. The talks are now in their third week and I welcome the constructive engagement by all parties.

Questions Nos. 21 to 24, inclusive, resubmitted.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Questions Nos. 26 to 37, inclusive, resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 38 to 40, inclusive, answered orally.

Ceisteanna (25)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

25. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent meeting with EU leaders. [20536/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I attended an informal meeting of EU Heads of State and Government in Sibiu, Romania on 9 May.

We had an initial exchange of views on our strategic priorities for the years ahead. We adopted a Declaration outlining 10 basic commitments which will guide our deliberations on the EU Strategic Agenda for the next five years, which we hope to adopt at the European Council meeting in June.

My remarks at the informal summit were based on Ireland’s National Statement on the European Union, which was published on 17 April, and discussed in the Dáil the following day.

I outlined our objectives and priorities for the years ahead, and noted that working to ensure a close, comprehensive and ambitious future partnership with the UK continues to be a top priority.

I spoke informally with many of my EU counterparts in the margins of the meeting in Sibiu.

I also had a bilateral meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, in the Hague on 8 May, the day before the meeting in Sibiu.

Questions Nos. 26 to 37, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 38 to 40, inclusive, answered orally.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions Nos. 42 to 44, inclusive, answered orally.

Ceisteanna (41)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

41. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if extra funding and resources will be provided to address the ongoing problems of disability friendly infrastructure in train stations along the major commuter lines to ensure persons with mobility issues can use the train stations and commute safely; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22068/19]

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.

Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.  

Accessibility features, such as wheelchair access and audio/visual aids, are built into all new public transport infrastructure projects and vehicles from the design stage, including the 17 new rail stations built since 2007.

The National Development Plan (NDP) for the period 2018-2027, sets out the national vision and ambition for the delivery of key critical infrastructure over the next 10 years, including in relation to public transport infrastructure.  Investment in public transport will be accelerated under the NDP to support the development of an integrated and sustainable national public transport system.  A number of key new major public transport programmes are due to be delivered under the NDP over the period to 2027. As with all new and recently developed public transport projects, these programmes will be fully accessible as part of the normal design.

However, work remains to be done in terms of the retro-fitting of older infrastructure to make it accessible for people with a disability. In particular, gaps remain in relation to railway infrastructure and facilities as most of the rail network was originally developed during the Victorian era.

To address infrastructural legacy issues, my Department funds a programme of accessibility improvement grants, managed by the NTA,  to upgrade existing and older infrastructure and facilities, including the upgrading of train stations to make them accessible to wheelchair users. In this regard, I secured a trebling of the funding provided for the Accessibility Retro-fit Programme to €28 million for the period 2018 to 2021, as part of the 4-year capital envelope for public transport announced in Budget 2018.  In 2018, €1m was provided for rail station accessibility upgrades and this has been increased to €3m for 2019.  With this increase in funding it is envisaged that larger projects will be undertaken at railway stations including the installation of lifts and bridges to allow easy access "across track" platforms for wheelchair users.  There will also be a continued investment programme under the NDP to fund retro-fitting of older existing public transport facilities to enhance accessibility.  

I provided additional funding to Irish Rail last year, for the development of a dedicated "app" to support customers who have mobility or sensory impairments. The app will allow users to pre-book a journey that confirms that they will have assistance by a member of Irish Rail staff at their departure and arrival stations and provide them with support in an emergency.

I am advised that Irish Rail is taking a number of other measures to improve access for people with disabilities to rail and DART services.  These include the company introducing a new improved Accessibility Policy.  This involves a new zonal system for the DART, Maynooth and Northern Commuter lines that is designed to provide better service and quicker response times to passengers who require assistance.  This policy divides the stations on these lines into zones, with each comprising one to four stations.  One station in each zone will always be manned and will provide support to other stations in that zone.  Full details are available on the Irish Rail website.  Following a successful pilot, Irish Rail has reduced the notice period for providing assistance to customers on the DART from 24 hours to 4 hours and has also rolled this out to the Maynooth and Northern Commuter lines.  The company hopes to reduce this notice period further.

Irish Rail is currently training Customer Service Officers (CSOs) for deployment on all inter-city routes, with all services planned to have a CSO in place by the end of 2019.  This will mean that all services with a CSO on board will be able to ensure ramp assistance is available.  It is intended that this will eliminate the requirement for advance notice on all inter-city routes. 

Questions Nos. 42 to 44, inclusive, answered orally.

Sport Ireland

Questions Nos. 46 to 50, inclusive, answered orally.

Ceisteanna (45)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

45. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the anti-doping programme managed by Sport Ireland based on the testing results for 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22070/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I was very pleased to launch on 17th April last  Sport Ireland's Anti-Doping Review for 2018, which sets out the testing results for 2018. It is the 19th such review and it provides a full and detailed account of the excellent work undertaken by Sport Ireland in its anti-doping programme.

Under the Sport Ireland Act 2015, Sport Ireland is the statutory body with responsibility for the development of sport in Ireland and a key function of Sport Ireland is to act as the national anti-doping organisation – or NADO in short – for Ireland. As Ireland’s NADO, Sport Ireland and its staff undertake a range of vitally important services in the fight against the use of illegal performance enhancing substances in sport.  I am happy to confirm to the Deputy that I have a very favourable view of the work done by Sport Ireland Anti-Doping  which provides assurance in the integrity of Irish sport at both national and international levels. I would like to highlight in that context that the anti-doping programme managed by Sport Ireland is highly respected internationally.

In relation to the outcomes for 2018, it is encouraging to note that there was just one anti-doping rule violation recorded. It is in my view particularly important to see rising numbers engaging with Sport Ireland’s anti-doping education programme, which clearly shows that the vast majority of the Irish Sporting Community has absolutely no tolerance for doping in sport and remains proactive and determined to defeat it. The Irish Government is equally determined in that objective.

Sport Ireland has been working very closely with their colleagues internationally to defend the interests of clean athletes and clean sport. The agency and its Chief Executive, John Treacy, have taken a leading role in seeking for a more robust global anti-doping regime, that is fit for purpose and applies the rules without fear or favour. Together with Mr Treacy, I attended the White House Round table Event on doping in sport last November, where we heard compelling testimony from athletes themselves, and their calls for Governments to support their NADOs and athletes in the fight against doping in sport. I would like to assure Sport Ireland of the continued support of both Minister Griffin and me  in that regard.

Questions Nos. 46 to 50, inclusive, answered orally.

Road Traffic Legislation

Ceisteanna (51)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

51. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his officials have met with Dublin City Council and An Garda Síochána to address the issue of licensing horse-drawn carriages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22034/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Firstly, I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this issue here today. I know that the Deputy is very much aware of the issues surrounding this matter but for the consideration of the House, I would like to firstly outline some background to this issue.

Part 19 of the Local Government Act 2001 provides a general power to a local authority to make bye-laws in relation to its own property or services or to regulate matters of local concern.  It is under this Act that local authorities can choose to regulate horse-drawn carriages that operate for hire or reward.  Some local authorities develop bye-laws to licence horse-drawn carriages operating commercially. Through bye-laws, these local authorities set their own rules and stipulations to govern such operations.

In February 2011, Dublin City Council or DCC took over responsibility for the licensing of horse-drawn carriage operators and drivers from the Garda Carriage Office. DCC made bye-laws in the same year for the licensing of horse-drawn carriages. They made these bye-laws under the Local Government Act, 2001.  

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has had sight of a material suggesting that DCC has no legal basis to make such bye-laws and indicating that such powers may instead still rest under the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853, 1854 and 1855 with the Dublin Metropolitan Police Commissioners, to whom the Gardaí are the successors. 

Since this older Dublin-specific legislation was not repealed, powers for licensing horse-drawn carriages in Dublin still exist in statute.  This may mean that DCC may not be permitted to make bye-laws in this respect under the 2001 Act as bye-laws may not be made under that Act where powers exist elsewhere in legislation. 

The Deputy previously raised this issue here in the House. As a first step however, my Department sought legal advice.  Advice was very recently provided and an engagement with DCC and An Garda Síochána is on-going.  If it is the case that Victorian legislation needs to be repealed, this will be done and, as a result, DCC will be able to use the Local Government Act 2001 to licence these horse-drawn carriages. Given the requirement for a period to prioritise Brexit-related legislative work over all other requests for legislative drafting, the Taxi Regulation (Amendment) (Rickshaw) Bill 2018 was only very recently assigned to a Parliamentary Counsel so that work on developing the draft Bill can now commence in earnest. Subject to the outcome of the requested legal advice, it may be that that Bill will be the vehicle with which to repeal this Victorian legislation and, following publication, It is my clear intention to progress the Bill through the Houses without delay.

Road Network

Ceisteanna (52)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

52. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if consideration will be given to funding for the extension of the M3 motorway to Cavan town and the east-west link which are needed in the north-east; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.

As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal which are the subject of this PQ, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993.  Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.  

My Department provided funding to Cavan County Council (acting as lead authority with Monaghan and Louth County Councils) with over €2m in the period 2007-2014 to progress the regional road element of the project to preliminary design. 

This year I gave an allocation of €100,000 to Cavan County Council to enable the Council to undertake a detailed appraisal, in line with the current requirements in the Public Spending Code and the Capital Investment Framework, of the Cavan to Dundalk section of the route.  The aim of this appraisal would be to assess the extent to which the scheme or elements of it can be justified in terms of appraisal and advanced for further consideration in relation to schemes for development post 2021.  Preparation of the appraisal is the responsibility of the Council.

Regarding the reference by the Deputy to extending the M3 motorway to Cavan town, I would like to explain that, 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, construction and operation  of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

TII will of course work within the overall context of Project Ireland 2040. This encompasses the National Development Plan (NDP) which has been developed by Government to underpin the successful implementation of the new National Planning Framework (NPF).  This provides the strategic and financial framework for TII’s national roads programme for the period from 2018 to 2027.  In the ten years covered by the plan, over €11 billion will be invested in the overall road network.  

I can advise that the continuation of the M3 motorway to Cavan Town it is not referred to in the pipeline of projects outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).

However, the N3 Virginia Bypass Scheme is included among the pre-appraisal/early planning pipeline of projects in the NDP This scheme has been identified as a Strategic Investment Priority in the National Planning Framework (NPF) and NDP.

The proposed scheme will seek to remove the current inefficiencies of the existing road in terms of safety, capacity, and travel times. It is envisaged that it would also have a number of important benefits including:

- Support economic growth by increasing network capacity and reducing  travel times between Dublin and the Northwest;

- Improved Road Safety by reducing frequency and severity of collisions thereby contributing to the Road Safety Authority target of no more than 25 fatalities per million population by 2020; 

- Environmental improvements in noise, air and water quality for Virginia Town and  Lough Ramor (proposed Natural Heritage Area);  

- Improved access to the National Road network for the towns of Ballyjamesduff and Bailieborough.

The project pre-appraisal plan for the Virginia Bypass has been approved by the economic evaluation unit within my Department and TII has provided an allocation of €600k to Cavan County Council this year to progress planning and design work on the project.  Cavan County Council has advertised the tender competition for Technical Consultancy Services to progress the scheme through phases 1-4 of the Project Management Guidelines and expect to receive the tenders on 21st May 2019. 

This was scheduled to occur yesterday and my Department will receive an up-date on the outcome of that process in due course.

Rail Network

Ceisteanna (53)

James Browne

Ceist:

53. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has applied to the European Union to designate the Dublin to Rosslare railway line with Trans-European Transport Network, TEN-T, core status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21726/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The TEN-T Core Network is a subset of the Comprehensive Network and represents the strategically most important nodes and links of the trans-European transport networks.

The Core TEN-T network on the Island of Ireland links the main urban centres of Belfast-Dublin and Cork and encompasses the road, rail and other transport modes on this route. There is also an offshoot to  the Core Port  of Shannon Foynes. The Dublin - Rosslare Europort rail line links to Rosslare Harbour, a Harbour which is on the TEN-T Comprehensive Network but which doesn’t meet the threshold for TEN-T Core port status. I have not applied to the European Commission to designate the Dublin to Rosslare railway line as part of the Core Network.

EU Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc, wrote to Transport Ministers in February 2019 announcing that the Commission is considering advancing the review of the TEN-T Network, which was due to take place no later than December 2023. My Department is giving due consideration to this announcement and will very shortly make a formal submission to the Commission requesting an early review of the TEN-T Network, as outlined in the Programme for a Partnership Government.  This submission will note that national developments since the TEN-T network was established should be taken into account during the review, including the National Development Plan, the National Planning Framework, and the implications of Brexit.

Separately, the Deputy will be aware that Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) co-funding is available to projects on both the comprehensive and the core parts of the TEN-T Network, subject to such projects satisfying the eligibility criteria of a given call for proposals, and being selected in the evaluation process.

The current CEF programme finishes at end 2020. A proposal for a new Regulation of the Connecting Europe Facility for the period 2021 –2027 was published by the European Commission in May 2018. Ireland has advocated at EU level for projects on our comprehensive network to continue to be eligible for co-funding during the period 2021 - 2027.

Ireland submitted written comments to the European Commission in conjunction with two other island Member States, Cyprus and Malta, calling for projects on the comprehensive network in Member States which have no land border with another Member State to be included as eligible actions. This position was accepted by the Commission during negotiations, and as a result the latest text of the proposal retains this amendment. Subject to the proposed Regulation being adopted, this means that during the period 2021 – 2027, projects on Ireland’s comprehensive TEN-T network, includingthe rail network, will be eligible to apply for CEF co-funding through relevant Calls for Proposals.

Rail Services Data

Ceisteanna (54, 66, 182, 183, 184)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

54. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which rail facilities can be enhanced in the north County Kildare commuter belt with particular reference to the need to ensure the provision of extra rail carriages in compliance with health and safety regulations thereby eliminating the need to have passengers standing throughout journeys at peak times; if extra trains can be provided to meet the demand in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22091/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

66. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the need for increased rail capacity, including the provision of additional tracks to County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22059/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

182. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which the passenger carrying capacity of all commuter trains serving the stations at Confey, Leixlip, Maynooth, Kilcock, Hazelhatch and Sallins, County Kildare can be augmented to accommodate passengers now forced to stand for long periods throughout the journey with obvious health and safety implications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22255/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

183. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which extra trains can be laid on at peak times to facilitate commuters in the north County Kildare commuter belt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22256/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

184. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of commuter trains serving north County Kildare deemed to be overcrowded on a daily basis; the extent to which it is expected to address this issue in the short-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22257/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54, 66 and 182 to 184, inclusive, together.

As the Deputies are aware and as I mentioned earlier this afternoon, Project Ireland 2040 confirmed the DART Expansion Programme as a key investment priority to deliver a comprehensive public transport network over the next decade. 

As part of the DART Expansion Programme, it is intended that a DART service will be provided on the Maynooth line and Kildare line as far westwards as Maynooth and Celbridge respectively. 

The continued economic growth and increased employment levels have seen demand increase across the rail network and particularly in the GDA.  Currently, with the existing rail fleet fully deployed at peak times, the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with Irish Rail are examining options in the short, medium and longer term for additional train capacity to meet the increased commuter services demand across the network.

As well as the introduction of 10 minute DART schedules, we have already seen an expansion of services through the Phoenix Park Tunnel and new services on the Maynooth, Kildare and Northern lines.

In the medium term, the challenge is to source additional rolling stock as efficiently and effectively as possible and ensuring value for money for the taxpayer in that regard.  Accordingly, the NTA and Irish Rail have been exploring two options:

1 The purchase or lease of second-hand fleet;

2 The purchase of additional carriages for the existing “ICR” commuter fleet.

 In relation to second-hand fleet, the NTA recently advertised for expressions of interest and are considering the responses received. Of course there’s an added complication with that option given the different rail gauge we use in Ireland.  I expect a decision on which of the two medium term options will be pursued will be made very shortly.

In the longer term, work on developing tender documentation and train specifications for the proposed bi-mode fleet of rail vehicles is progressing.  It is expected that the formal fleet acquisition tender process will be initiated in the next few weeks and that the fleet manufacturing contract will be awarded in Quarter 2 of next year.

The enhancements to the heavy rail system provided for in the NTA’s ‘Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) 2016-2035’ will create an integrated rail network which will provide the core high-capacity transit system for the region and will deliver a very substantial increase in peak-hour capacity on all lines from Maynooth, Hazelhatch/Celbridge as well as Drogheda and Greystones.

I acknowledge the fact that at certain times of the day, some rail services are currently crowded due to the level of demand. Deputies can be assured that the safe operation of the rail network and services is the overriding priority at all times of both the company and of course the Commission for Railway Regulation which is the independent, statutory body charged with overseeing the safety of our rail network.

Railway Stations Upgrade

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

Ceisteanna (55)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

55. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the need for the provision of funding for necessary upgrade works of various facilities at Thomastown train station, County Kilkenny for rail commuters including the elderly and disabled with specific reference to appropriate facilities (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21723/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding of public transport;  the operation of the rail network and stations on the network, including any proposal for upgrading of the station referred to by the Deputy, is a matter for Iarnród Éireann in the first instance.

In view of Iarnród Éireann's responsibility in these matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the company for direct 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

Ceisteanna (56)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

56. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of timelines for sports capital grant allocations including the large scale sport infrastructure fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22058/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on Friday 19th October last.  By that deadline, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding. 

186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents.  These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January. 

Work has now been completed in assessing the new 2018 "equipment only" applications and allocations in respect of 466 equipment only applications were announced earlier this week. Full details are available on my Department's website.

In relation to other applications, for the first time, applicants who have submitted incorrect documentation under this round are being given the opportunity to correct their application during the assessment period. While there will be no undue delay in completing the assessment process, in view of the opportunity to correct documentation, the record number of applications received and the detailed information contained in each application, it is likely to take a number of months to have all applications assessed. Accordingly, I expect that it is likely to be September, at the earliest, before the full set of allocations under this current round of the programme are announced. 

The Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund opened for applications on 19th November 2018 and the closing date for receipt of applications was 17th April 2019.  72 applications were received in total and my officials are currently undertaking an initial assessment of them. Details of all applications have been published on the Department's website.

In view of the detailed information contained in each LSSIF application, I am advised that it will take a number of months to have all of them assessed.  Accordingly, I expect that it will be towards the end of this year before allocations are announced.

Aviation Policy

Ceisteanna (57)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

57. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he is putting forward to address the increasing carbon emissions from the aviation sector (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21794/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The National Aviation Policy commits Ireland to the development of a sustainable, resource-efficient aviation sector. The Policy recognises and supports actions relating to emissions and noise to mitigate the negative external impacts of aviation while facilitating the sustainable growth of the sector in support of business, tourism and air travel consumers.

In line with Resolutions of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on climate change, Ireland continues to coordinate an Action Plan for Aviation Emissions Reduction. An updated Action Plan has been completed and submitted to ICAO on May 10 and is now published on my Department's website.

The measures outlined in the Action Plan 2019-2023 at national level include ongoing programmes of fleet renewal by Irish registered airlines, moving to better fuel efficient engines and a range of air traffic management and airport operational improvements.

The Action Plan is the result of consultation across the range of aviation stakeholders and details actions by them, both at supra-national and national level, designed to mitigate the impact of aviation on climate.

Carbon (CO2) emissions from aviation have been included in the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) since 2012. Directive 2003/87/EC as amended, requires all airlines operating in Europe, to record emissions (calculated on the basis of measuring fuel consumed), report and verify their emissions, and to surrender allowances against those emissions. The number of allowances is capped requiring airlines to either reduce emissions or purchase emissions credits. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is designated the competent authority for administering the EU ETS scheme in respect of aircraft operators in Ireland.

At its 39th Assembly in 2016 ICAO agreed to implement a Global Market Based Measure in the form of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to address any annual increase in total CO2 emissions from international civil aviation above the 2020 levels. It is the first such scheme agreed at international level for any industrial sector.

The scheme is designed to allow aircraft operators offset emissions through the purchase of credits from verified environmental projects in areas outside of aviation. The scheme will be implemented in pilot, voluntary and mandatory phases to 2035 – Ireland is taking part in the voluntary pilot phase from 2021 alongside the other 43 members of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC). The EU Commission is in the process of adopting various provisions for the appropriate monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions for the purpose of implementing CORSIA.

My Department is working closely with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the EPA on the implementation of CORSIA at national level. The EPA is actively engaging with airlines on the reporting requirements for both EU-ETS and CORSIA.

Bus Services

Ceisteanna (58)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

58. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the role of his Department in the evolution of the BusConnects project being led by the NTA; and if he has recently met with the NTA in relation to the project. [22092/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Deputy is aware of the statutory framework established by the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 (as amended) in relation to strategic transport planning and transport infrastructure delivery within the Greater Dublin Area.

This framework established what is now known as the National Transport Authority (NTA) and gave it a number of important statutory responsibilities.

One of those important statutory responsibilities is the development of a transport strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) as provided for by section 12 of the Act.

The objective of the strategy is to provide a long-term strategic planning framework for the integrated development of transport infrastructure and services in the GDA. It also provides a clear statement of transport planning policy for the GDA, around which other agencies involved in land use planning, environmental protection, and delivery of other infrastructure such as housing, water and power, can align their own investment priorities.  It is an essential component, along with investment programmes in other sectors, for the orderly development of the GDA over the next 20 years.

In developing that strategy the Act requires the NTA to have regard to relevant national level transport policies as would be developed by my Department and approved by Government where relevant.

Of those national level transport policies for example, the Deputy is aware of Smarter Travel – A Sustainable Transport Future, which committed to a major overhaul of bus services, such as that proposed by BusConnects.

The Act requires the NTA to consult with a wide range of stakeholders during the development of the strategy, including the Joint Oireachtas Committee.

The Act also requires that the NTA submit a draft of its transport strategy to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport for his or her approval.

The Strategy put forward a strategic level approach toward delivering an efficient, reliable and effective bus system for the GDA and set out high-level principles with regard to development of a core bus network of 16 radial corridors and the development of a number of orbital corridors also.

In February 2016 the then Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport approved the draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 to 2035 and since that time the NTA has sought to begin delivery of the Strategy and its ambitious programme of investment.

It is the statutory responsibility of the NTA to provide public transport infrastructure and services in Dublin and their development of the BusConnects at a project level reflects that responsibility and fits within the statutory framework described above.

My Department regularly meets with the NTA to discuss relevant issues, including in relation to the delivery of BusConnects.

As Minister I am of course kept informed by my Department as required and have also met with the NTA to be specifically briefed on certain issues as I deem appropriate. The most recent meeting I held with the NTA in relation to BusConnects was prior to the launch of the public consultations on the development of the new bus corridors.