Tourism Policy

Ceisteanna (59)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

59. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which he remains satisfied that tourist facilities continue to be evenly spread nationally with a view to ensuring tourist related jobs throughout the regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22090/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department is primarily involved in the development of national tourism policy, while the tourism agencies have responsibility for the implementation of this policy.  With regard to the various regions, Fáilte Ireland develops and promotes their tourism potential in line with the relevant tourism experience brands – namely Ireland's Hidden Heartlands, Ireland's Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and the Dublin brand – which are designed to boost tourism and drive visitor growth throughout the country, with consequential benefits for the local economy and jobs right across Ireland.

With specific regard to tourism facilities, Fáilte Ireland provides targeted capital investment in attractions and other tourism infrastructure throughout the regions, consistent with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040 and from funding provided under the National Development Plan (NDP) to help support and grow tourism in rural communities in line with the regional tourism experience brands.  Priority areas for tourism capital investment, as identified under the NDP, include the development and enhancement of tourist attractions and activity-based tourism to provide the type and quality of experience that visitors are seeking.

This capital investment is further supported by Fáilte Ireland current investment in complementary programme supports – including festivals and events, business supports and training – aimed at enhancing, animating and promoting the regional tourism experience brands.

I am satisfied that the efforts outlined above, assisted by supportive Government policies and strong annual Exchequer investment in the sector through the tourism agencies, are delivering on our core tourism objectives throughout the regions.  In this regard, the Deputy will be pleased to note the latest Fáilte Ireland estimates for tourism employment, which indicate that tourism now supports c. 260,000 vital jobs in communities around the country and provides much needed revenue for local businesses. 

Ports Development

Ceisteanna (60)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

60. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he has taken to ensure that cruise ships will have sufficient docking space within Dublin from 2021 onwards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21996/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Dublin Port is currently undertaking an ambitious capital infrastructure development programme in the Alexander Basin to facilitate larger sized vessels and provide additional cargo handling capacity to cater for our growing economy. While this project is on-going I am keen to help mitigate any adverse impacts on the tourism industry, including cruise tourism.  With these concerns in mind, I met with Dublin Port in March. The Company outlined to me its capital development plans and rationale for prioritisation in the context of Brexit, as well as the specifics with regard to cruise berths.  

At this meeting it was explained that as part of the ABR Project, Alexandra Quay West will be under construction for at least two years from 2021 to 2023. Given the space constraints, cruise berths will be limited for a three year period from 2021 to allow the necessary construction work to take place. During this period freight ships that normally berth there will have to relocate to Ocean Pier West, the berth on which large cruise ships are currently handled. 

Dublin Port Company have assured me that it will operate a full cruise volume in 2019 and 2020 but while cruise calls will be facilitated from 2021 to 2023, they will be limited to circa 80 ships per annum. When the work is completed at Alexandra Quay West cruise volumes are expected to revert towards 150 for years 2024/2025.

The Company has already secured planning permission to construct new berths for cruise ships on the North Wall Quay Extension. The cost benefit analysis currently underway in respect of these additional berths (due for publication later this year) will form a solid basis for discussion on how this vision can be brought to fruition.

Through my wider stakeholder engagements, I have encouraged port and cruise industry stakeholders to take maximum advantage of other options available during the period of construction at Dublin port, when a reduced number of berths will be available for cruise calls.  While Dublin Port is important in attracting cruise liners to Ireland through Dublin, other benefits can accrue to other ports around our coast.

In the meantime, Cobh continues as a dedicated cruise berth and will remain so post-Brexit.  I also welcome the fact that the Port of Cork is working with Belfast Harbour to see if they can take some of the additional business that may be lost as a result of Dublin Port's infrastructural works. In addition, Fáilte Ireland continues to support the development and promotion of the cruise tourism sector.

Light Rail Projects Provision

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

Ceisteanna (61)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

61. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to undertake a feasibility study for light rail in Galway in view of climate mitigation commitments and the proposed development of Galway city pursuant to the national planning framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22094/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

A transport strategy for Galway City was prepared by the National Transport Authority (NTA) in partnership with Galway City Council and Galway County Council in 2016.  Development of the Galway Transport Strategy was informed by wide-ranging public consultation process a the time.

The strategy set out an overall framework for the development of transport infrastructure and services in Galway City and its environs over a twenty year period.

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

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

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (62)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

62. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he plans to take to increase the use of public transport in view of the declaration of a climate emergency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22064/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, last year Government launched Project Ireland 2040 which sets out both the planned spatial development and investment framework for the coming years.  Project Ireland 2040 recognises the need to put in place environmentally sustainable public transport systems in order to secure Ireland’s climate action goals.

The Deputy will acknowledge that there are short, medium and longer term responses to the issue of increasing public transport usage.

In the short term, this Government has increased the funding available to support both current and capital expenditure across both public transport and active travel.

That increased funding supports –

- An expanding PSO bus fleet for urban and for regional PSO routes;

- The move away from diesel-only buses in the urban PSO bus fleet;

- Improved and increased PSO bus services across the country;

- Expanded Local Link services for more rural areas;

- Increased maintenance and renewal of the heavy rail network resulting in an improved passenger experience;

- Expanded off-peak services on the GDA rail network; and

- Construction of a number of important cycling projects in the major cities.

In the medium term, Government has committed to major investments in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the public transport network and services.  These investments reflect the needs which have been identified by my Department and its various agencies, during the development of Project Ireland 2040.  The investment committed to within Project Ireland 2040, will result in the delivery of a number of significant projects and programmes over the next 10 years, such as –

- BusConnects, including the development of cycling infrastructure in all major cities;

- MetroLink;

- DART Expansion across the GDA;

- Additional rail fleet; and

- Strategic cycling networks in the major cities.

Those projects and programmes will be complemented by other planned investments, such as the development of a new National Train Control Centre, the completion of the City Centre Rail Resignalling Project and continued planning and design of potential extensions to the existing Luas network.

In the longer term, there are transport strategies in place for both the Greater Dublin Area and Galway, while a draft Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy was published for public consultation last week. Transport Strategies for both Limerick and Waterford will be developed this year and all of these strategies provide a 20-year horizon to the transport needs of their respective areas and will inform my consideration of funding requirements for public transport over the longer term.

Sports Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (63)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

63. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has assessed the impact the removal of State funding to an organisation (details supplied) has had on grassroots football; his views on whether the organisation will become insolvent as a result of the continued removal of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22096/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

In response to admission by the President of the organisation in question that it had been in breach of grant conditions in 2017, the Board of Sport Ireland decided to withhold and suspend funding to that organisation until a comprehensive explanation of all financial transactions was provided and until governance issues identified were also addressed. Subsequently, Minister of State Griffin and I decided to suspend all payments to that organisation under the Sports Capital Programme which is administered by my Department.

The decisions taken by Minister Griffin and I, and by the Board of Sport Ireland were not taken lightly, and considered the potential impact to programmes and projects, and to the running of the organisation.

I am satisfied that this suspension of funding will not have any short term impact on the valuable programmes delivered by the organisation concerned. The association has already received 50% of its Sport Ireland funding for 2019 which will ensure the good work on the ground can continue for now. The next tranche of funding is due in September, giving the organisation time to put its affairs in order. Sport Ireland have offered the organisation non-financial assistance and guidance with the tasks ahead. Similarly, the potential outstanding drawdown amounts for the organisation under the Sports Capital Programme are modest in scale and not significant enough to impact on the organisation's overall financial situation. It is important to recognise that State funding to this organisation is a small proportion of its total income and that the organisation has significant commercial revenues.

I am glad that the organisation and its Board are now engaging constructively with Sport Ireland to address the serious issues which have occurred. I would encourage them to continue their efforts to rebuild trust, so that funding can be restored. The Board of Sport Ireland will keep this matter under constant review and provide regular updates to Minister Griffin and me on progress. When all necessary steps have been taken, we will consider reinstatement of funding.

Bus Services

Ceisteanna (64)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

64. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he will take to ensure that fossil fuel natural gas will not be considered as a future potential fuel source in the national bus fleet in view of the recognition by Dáil Éireann that the world is facing a climate emergency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21795/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy will be aware, under Project Ireland 2040 Ireland has committed to no longer purchasing diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleet from July 2019.  In preparation for both this immediate transition and the development of longer-term low-carbon bus procurement strategy, my Department, together with the National Transport Authority, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, is giving a great deal of consideration to these matters and has undertaken a comprehensive series of low-emission bus trials which are expected to conclude in the coming weeks.

Among the wide range of low-emission alternatives considered in these bus trials, was the testing of two compressed natural gas/biogas buses (single- and double-deck) using PEMS (Portable Emissions Measurements Systems) technology to assess emissions of CO2 and air pollutants such as NOx, amongst other test criteria. The Deputy rightly notes that compressed natural gas is a fossil fuel; accordingly, natural gas is only being considered as a pathway towards incorporating renewable biogas, or biomethane, into the transport fuel mix.

Biomethane use can significantly reduce pollutant emissions compared to diesel powered engines and can dramatically reduce carbon emissions by capturing energy from Ireland’s food and biological wastes and residues. The anaerobic digestion industry, which produces biomethane, is also a developing indigenous industry which could support a synergistic circular economy between the transport and agricultural sectors, while improving national fuel security and contributing towards 2030 sectoral targets under the Renewable Energy Directive.

In addition, the Clean Vehicles Directive, which legislates for public procurement at European level and will include within its scope the purchase of public urban buses, has undergone recent revision and is shortly expected to enter into force.  Noting the role of the Directive in relation to bus fleet transition, the Deputy may be interested to learn that post-2025 over half of Ireland’s urban bus procurements will be required to deploy zero-emission fuels or technologies. Noting this requirement, the pending findings from the Low Emission Bus Trials, and additional research and market information, considerable deliberation is required to determine the future direction of bus procurement in the short and medium term. It would be premature to rule in favour or against any particular alternative fuel or technology in advance of these deliberations.

Rail Services

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 54.

Ceisteanna (65)

Hildegarde Naughton

Ceist:

65. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the lack of capacity, both carriage and service, on the Galway to Dublin rail line, particularly as it affects commuters on the Oranmore to Galway service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21727/19]

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 and provision of service on the rail network is a matter for Iarnród Éireann in the first instance who, in consultation with the National Transport Authority, are currently examining how best to source additional rolling stock as efficiently and effectively as possible and ensuring value for money for the taxpayer in that regard.

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.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 54.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (67)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

67. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views regarding the possible impact of Brexit on the tourism sector; his further views on whether the tourism industry is Brexit ready; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22069/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Brexit poses significant challenges to the tourism sector. In the short term the immediate impact has been the drop in value of sterling and from a tourism perspective Ireland has become a more expensive destination for UK visitors as a result.

Since the referendum the Government has had a clear focus on our overall priorities and these are mirrored in the tourism sector. These priorities have included protecting the peace process, no hard border, maintenance of the Common Travel Area, maintenance of existing aviation traffic rights and an effective transitional agreement leading to the closest possible trading relationship with the UK.

The Government has allocated almost €8 million in additional funding to the tourism agencies this year specifically to respond to the impact of Brexit. Tourism Ireland have put in place a programme of marketing activity, post-Brexit research, and stakeholder information to ensure that potential visitors in relevant markets fully appreciate that it is "business as usual" for Ireland and the Irish tourism industry. Tourism Ireland have also put in place a Tourism Taskforce on Brexit which has met regularly to maintain liaison with the British, European and UK Inbound trade and with the UK Tourism Alliance.

Fáilte Ireland are investing €5 million this year to support the tourism enterprises to respond to the impact of Brexit.  The ‘Get Brexit Ready’ programme is helping businesses to assess the risk and respond to changes and will also assist the sector in diversifying into other markets. Fáilte Ireland’s work is focusing primarily on border counties and the South East region which have been most adversely affected by the drop in the value of sterling. 

As part of its Brexit preparations, Tourism Ireland commissioned a wide-ranging review of the British market, independently chaired and led by a steering group of key representatives of the Irish and UK-based tourism industry. Minister Griffin will launch the new strategy in the coming weeks and this will provide a blueprint for future activity in this important market.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (68)

John Curran

Ceist:

68. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his goals and targets on an annual basis to decarbonise the transport sector further to the fact that a climate emergency has been declared; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21725/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I strongly support the recognition of the scale and urgency of the climate change challenge Ireland is facing by the declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.  The transport sector, accounting for a fifth of national greenhouse gas emissions, undoubtedly has a key role to play in the societal and economic transformation required to tackle this challenge and the sector expects to fully decarbonise.

We have committed unprecedented investment of €30 billion in climate mitigation and adaptation measures under Project Ireland 2040, including €8.6 billion specifically for sustainable transport. Notably, we have firmly established a target of 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030 as well as committing to no longer buying diesel-only urban buses from July this year. 

A new All of Government Plan to Tackle Climate Disruption which will bring a required step-change in our national climate ambition over the next decade and beyond is in preparation.  My Department has worked closely with that of Minister Bruton in the development of the Plan to guarantee that the transport elements contribute meaningfully to the national emission reduction efforts.  We intend that the Plan will have a strong focus on action, deliverables and defined timeframes setting out the time-bound targets and goals the Deputy is seeking.

Of course this Plan will build on the important and successful work currently underway to decarbonise transport.  The Low Emitting Vehicle Taskforce has made a series of recommendations that have been adopted by Government establishing a suite of continued and new supports for electric vehicles and I am delighted that Ireland now has over 10,000 electric cars on the road. Together with the significant investment in public and active travel I have secured, I expect to see transport emissions contract again as these key technological and behavioural changes occur in the years to come.  I was pleased to see that the most recent EPA emissions inventory recorded a fall in transport emissions in 2017.

Football Association of Ireland

Ceisteanna (69)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

69. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on whether an organisation (details supplied) is in a precarious financial situation with approximately 200 jobs at risk; his plans to take control of the situation and resolve same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22066/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I am aware of the recent reports concerning the financial situation of the organisation in question. At the outset, I wish to highlight that the organisation concerned and other recognised National Governing Bodies of sport are responsible for their own governance procedures and competition rules for their sports. They are also responsible for employer/employee relations and it would not be appropriate for me as Minister to intervene in such matters.

In response to admission by the President of the organisation in question that it had been in breach of grant conditions in 2017, the Board of Sport Ireland decided to withhold and suspend funding to that organisation until a comprehensive explanation of all financial transactions was provided and until governance issues identified were also addressed. Subsequently, Minister of State Griffin and I decided to suspend all payments to that organisation under the Sports Capital Programme which is administered by my Department.

The decisions taken by Minister Griffin and I, and by the Board of Sport Ireland were not taken lightly, and considered the potential impact to programmes and projects, and to the running of the organisation.

I am satisfied that this suspension of funding will not have any short term impact on the valuable programmes delivered by the organisation concerned. The association has already received 50% of its Sport Ireland funding for 2019 which will ensure the good work on the ground can continue for now. The next tranche of funding is due in September, giving the organisation some time to put its affairs in order. Sport Ireland have offered the organisation non-financial assistance and guidance with the tasks ahead. Similarly, the potential outstanding drawdown amounts for the organisation under the Sports Capital Programme are modest in scale and not significant enough to impact on the organisation's overall financial situation. It is important to recognise that State funding to this organisation is a small proportion of its total income and that the organisation has significant commercial revenues.

I am glad that the organisation and its Board are now engaging constructively with Sport Ireland to address the serious issues which have occurred. I would encourage them to continue their efforts to rebuild trust, so that funding can be restored. The Board of Sport Ireland will keep this matter under constant review and provide regular updates to Minister Griffin and me on progress. When all necessary steps have been taken, we will consider reinstatement of funding.

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement Investigations

Ceisteanna (70)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

70. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the ongoing investigation into the management practices at an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22033/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy will be aware, there are a number of reviews ongoing into the organisation concerned at present.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement is continuing to investigate matters of concern in the organisation. The nature of these investigations is confidential.

On 10 May 2019 Sport Ireland announced that it had appointed KOSI auditors, including a forensic auditor, to carry out an extensive independent audit of the organisation. 

Sport Ireland and the organisation have jointly established a Governance Review Group chaired by an indepdendent governance expert. The Group will review the existing governance arrangements and consider and propose a governance framework for the organisation which will support the Board and the organisation in achieving and observing good governance practice. The group will report to both Sport Ireland and the Board of the organisation concerned. The Board will in turn liaise with the relevant international federation to ensure any proposed changes are in line with its policy and practice on governance. 

As part of the Governance Review process, both Minister of State Brendan Griffin and I will convene a football stakeholder forum later this month.  The output from the Forum will be considered by the Governance Review Group.

Road Improvement Schemes

Ceisteanna (71)

John Curran

Ceist:

71. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the NTA has been in discussions with South Dublin County Council regarding the provision of a grade segregated intersection at the junction of Kennelsfort Road and the N4, Palmerstown, Dublin 20; if so, the outcome of those discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21724/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I would like to explain that this section of the "old N4" is now classified as a regional road (the R148) and that the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993.  

As regards funding, roadworks on regional and local roads are funded from each local authority's own resources supplemented by State road grants, where applicable. Arising from the arrangements in place in relation to Local Property Tax receipts, the four Dublin Councils are largely self-funding for works on regional and local roads since 2015 and my Department no longer provides grants to these Councils under the main road grant categories.

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 planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, and also has responsibilities in respect of traffic management.

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

Homeless World Cup

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

Ceisteanna (72)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

72. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the bid by an organisation (details supplied) will be supported to host the Homeless World Cup 2021 to 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22035/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The hosting of international sports events, both participative and spectator sports, can provide a positive showcase for Ireland and help attract additional international visitors.  Accordingly, I am very supportive of the on-going efforts of the tourism agencies and the national governing bodies (NGBs) of sport to attract international events.  Of course, any proposal to support the hosting of an event must be subject to an assessment of the costs/benefits involved in any State financial support. 

Generally speaking, from a tourism perspective, subject to their assessment, Fáilte Ireland could consider providing funding and other supports to assist the bid stage.  From a sporting perspective, any potential Sport Ireland funding would be channelled through the relevant NGB – which, in this instance, is the Football Association of Ireland – and would relate to the hosting of the event following a successful bid (rather than for the bid itself).

With regard to the specific event mentioned by the Deputy, I have asked Fáilte Ireland to provide her with further information on any potential tourism-related bid supports.  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

Project Ireland 2040

Ceisteanna (73)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

73. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the major public transport projects under construction or that are in the planning and-or rail order process. [22093/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Information regarding the current status of Project Ireland 2040 programmes and projects is available on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's online "Investment Projects and Programmes Tracker" at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/6db7c4-investment-projects-and-programmes-tracker/.

Rail Services Staff

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

Ceisteanna (74)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

74. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to further reduce the hours of staffing at Donabate train station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22067/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

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

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

Bus Services

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

Ceisteanna (75)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

75. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the service provided by a company (details supplied) in south County Dublin has seriously deteriorated since its takeover from Dublin Bus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22065/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

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

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (76)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

76. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his policies in relation to reducing the transport carbon footprint of public transport; the discussions he has had with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

It is estimated that public transport (bus, rail, taxi) accounts for a little over 1% of Ireland's overall non-ETS carbon emissions, and less that one-twentieth of the emissions from the transport sector.  Accordingly, converting our public transport fleets to lower-carbon alternatives will have a limited, though positive, impact on reducing national CO2 emissions.  That said, I am convinced that moving to low-emission alternatives for public transport is important so as to promote and normalise the use of non-conventional lower emitting fuels and technologies to the general public. So, in order to show leadership in this area, we have a comprehensive programme of work underway to reduce the sector's carbon footprint.

Also, improving public and active transport services and infrastructure is a key priority if Ireland is to cater in an environmentally sustainable way, for increasing travel demand and to provide a meaningful alternative to the private car.  Under Project Ireland 2040, €8.6 billion in investment has been committed to public and active transport.  Major sustainable transport projects planned include the BusConnects Programme, investment in the DART Expansion Programme, and the MetroLink, as well as a multi-annual urban cycling and walking infrastructure investment of over €110 million in our main cities.

It is clear that prioritising investment in our public transport network is working - during the reporting period of 2017 alone, an additional 16 million public transport passenger journeys were made in Ireland while the number of walking and cycling trips also increased dramatically, particularly within the Greater Dublin Area.  To ensure that the carbon footprint of this significant modal shift is minimised it is critical that our public transport fleets continue to improve in energy and emission efficiencies.

In the urban bus fleet, a clear trajectory to low emission buses has been outlined.  We are committed in Project Ireland 2040 to no longer purchase diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleet from this July.  In preparation for both this immediate transition and the development of a longer-term low-carbon bus procurement strategy, my Department, together with the National Transport Authority, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, has undertaken a comprehensive series of low-emission bus trials which are expected to conclude in the coming weeks.  Under the BusConnects Programme it is expected that approximately half of the public urban bus fleet will have moved to lower emitting alternatives by 2023 with full conversion by 2030.

It is equally important to consider the potential contribution of electrified rail to the decarbonisation objective.  An estimated €2 billion is earmarked for investment in the DART Expansion Programme which will create a full metropolitan area DART network for Dublin and high-frequency electrified services to Drogheda, Celbridge/Hazelhatch, Maynooth and M3 Parkway, as well as new interchange stations with bus, LUAS and Metro networks.  We also expect to accept delivery of our first new diesel-electric trains in 2022, which will enable the enlargement of the rail fleet by approximately some 300 new rail carriages.  These major rail projects will help supplement the range of viable low carbon alternatives to private passenger car travel and positively impact our sectoral emissions profile.

In relation to the taxi, hackney and limousine sector, it is clear that electrification presents an achievable pathway towards decarbonisation.  To this end, I established the Electric Small Public Service Vehicle Grant Scheme in 2018, providing purchase reliefs of up to €7,000 for battery electric vehicles and up to €3,500 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, in addition to the range of other incentives supporting electric vehicles.  I have allocated €500,000 from my Department's Green Public Transport Fund in support of this initiative further into 2019.

I have, of course, met with Minister Bruton to discuss decarbonising the transport sector as we work to prepare the forthcoming new All-of-Government Plan to Tackle Climate Disruption.

Rail Network

Ceisteanna (77, 176)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

77. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if consideration will be given to funding for the re-establishment of the rail line from Dublin to Kingscourt, County Cavan; the status of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21797/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

176. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if discussions have taken place on providing funding for the extension of the railway line from Navan to Kingscourt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17897/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 176 together.

Project Ireland 2040 states that the priority funding objective in relation to mainline rail is the maintenance and renewal of the existing network so that it continues to provide a safe and reliable infrastructure that enables the provision of quality rail services for passengers across the country. 

As the Deputy is aware, the funding I have secured under Project Ireland 2040 means that we are in a position to provide the steady state level of funding required through a significant and recurring capital investment of around €200 million from the taxpayer every year.

Another of the commitments contained within Project Ireland 2040 is to continue to keep under review the potential extension of the existing M3/Parkway Line northwards to Navan.  The next review of the Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area must be completed by 2021 and that review will reconsider the population and commuting forecasts in order to determine whether any revised Strategy might include such an extension.

Currently the Kingscourt area is served by bus based public transport and I note that the Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area categorises the M3/N2 route as a core regional bus network and the area will therefore benefit from the planned improvements along that corridor under Project Ireland 2040.

I can therefore confirm to the Deputy that there is no funding allocated under Project Ireland 2040 for the disused Kingscourt rail line.

Taxi Data

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

Ceisteanna (78)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

78. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of rural taxis that will be funded under the proposed rural taxi scheme. [21997/19]

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 Taxi Regulation Act 2013, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the regulation of the small public service vehicle sector. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of Local Link. The NTA is also responsible for the running of the recently announced pilot schemes relating to the Local Area Hackney Scheme and the Community Transport Service.

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

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

Road Traffic Legislation

Ceisteanna (79)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

79. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the engagements he has had with the Minister for Justice and Equality regarding the matter of legislating or regulating the reckless operation of scrambler and quad bikes; and when legislation will be published to deal with the matter. [22051/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Deputy Munster will be aware, Deputies Curran and Lahart have introduced a Private Members Bill entitled Road Traffic (All Terrain and Scrambler Motor-cycle) (Amendment) Bill 2019. As I stated in that debate, in 2018 a group was established under the co-ordination of the Department of Justice and Equality to examine it. Membership includes the Departments of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Housing, Planning and Local Government as well as An Garda Síochána and other stakeholders.

A great deal of consideration has been given to whether there are any deficiencies in the law. However, the laws clearly exist both to punish offenders and to detain the vehicles where necessary. The real difficulty is with intercepting these vehicles while they are being used in a dangerous way around members of the public. As I believe the Deputy will appreciate, any attempt to stop these vehicles in an area where members of the public are present could put innocent bystanders, as well as the riders of the vehicles, at risk. As the Deputy may also be aware, during the course of that debate I indicated that I would be willing to engage with Deputies Curran and Lahart and other Deputies who may have a particular interest in this issue to see if we can identify improvements that can be made to legislation.

Cabinet Committees

Ceisteanna (80)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

80. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach the number of Cabinet committees that exist; the areas they cover; and the dates each committee has met in 2019. [22208/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The Government has established seven Cabinet Committees.

Cabinet Committee A covers issues relating to the Economy. This includes jobs, the labour market, competitiveness, productivity, the Action Plan on Rural Development, the digital economy, and pensions.

Cabinet Committee B covers Social Policy and Public Services including education, children, social inclusion, Irish language, arts and culture, and continued improvements and reform of public services.

Cabinet Committee C covers EU and international issues including Brexit.

Cabinet Committee D works to ensure a co-ordinated approach in the areas of infrastructure investment and delivery, housing and climate action.

Cabinet Committee E covers issues relating to health including delivery of health service reforms.

Cabinet Committee F works to keep the State's systems for the analysis of, preparation for, and response to, threats to national security under review and provides high-level coordination between relevant Departments and agencies on related matters.

Cabinet Committee G provides political oversight of developments in relation to justice and equality issues, including implementation of the Government's programme of reform for the justice sector.

I have chaired three Cabinet Committee meetings in 2019. Cabinet Committee D met on 31 January, Committee B on 21 February and Committee F on 1 April. Cabinet Committee D is scheduled to meet again on 27 May and Cabinet Committee G is due to meet on 10 June.

In addition to meetings of Cabinet Committees, I often meet with Ministers on an individual basis to focus on particular issues, which are also regularly discussed at full Government meetings.