Postal Codes

Ceisteanna (129)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

129. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the steps a person (details supplied) can take in order to receive an Eircode; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22914/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Eircodes are assigned to new property addresses using a valid postal address and verified geo-locations. An Post collects information on new and existing buildings, as well as changes to existing addresses and Ordnance Survey Ireland provides the geo-locations for these buildings. An Post GeoDirectory, issue a new release of the GeoDirectory database file on a quarterly basis to Capita Business Support Services Ireland, trading as Eircode, in accordance with their licence agreement.

Each new address assigned an Eircode is published on the free to use Eircode Finder website, a notification letter is issued to the occupant containing the Eircode of that address and the latest updated Eircode database is made available to licenced businesses for their use. Eircode have informed my Department that 78,400 addresses have been assigned an Eircode since the launch in 2015.

My Department has requested Eircode to contact and liaise directly with the individual in question regarding the assignment of an Eircode for this new property.

However, in recognition of the fact that earlier assignment of Eircodes to new builds is desirable, my officials are working with An Post, Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi), An Post GeoDirectory and Capita to improve and expedite the existing process.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (130)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

130. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if fibre broadband will be installed at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22953/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The premises referenced by the Deputy, is in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP.

This intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this.

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to the completion of the final stage of the procurement process, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after contract signature. The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

In the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations.

A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises at the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

Public Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (131)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

131. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which assistance is available to facilitate localised transport with particular reference to areas not covered by public transport with a view to facilitating shopping, socialising or community interaction with specific reference to the need to prevent isolation in either urban or rural communities nationally and in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23029/19]

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.

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 forwarded the your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Mechanically Propelled Vehicles

Ceisteanna (132)

John Curran

Ceist:

132. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the Road Safety Authority will carry out research into the way in which e-scooters and other such vehicles are regulated in other countries, particularly other member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22906/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Escooters and other such vehicles fall into the category of a mechanically propelled vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1961. Any users of such vehicles in a public place must have insurance, road tax and a driving licence, with penalties under road traffic laws (including fixed charge notices, penalty points, fines and possible seizure of the vehicle) for not being in compliance with these requirements.

As it is currently not possible to tax or insure escooters or other such vehicles, they are not considered suitable for use in a public place.

I have requested the Road Safety Authority to research how escooters and other such vehicles are regulated in other countries, particularly other Member States. I am keen to understand the road safety implications of the use of such vehicles on public roads, especially when interacting with other vehicles.

I will make a decision on whether or not to amend existing legislation when I have received and considered the outcome of the Authority’s research, and not before then. I will need to be satisfied that permitting such vehicles on our roads will not give rise to safety concerns, both for the users themselves and for all other road users including cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. I have been advised that the report will be submitted to me within the next few weeks.

Bus Services

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

Ceisteanna (133)

John Curran

Ceist:

133. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the commitment under the BusConnects plan to provide accessible buses for wheelchair users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22908/19]

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. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure including BusConnects.

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

Public Service Vehicles

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

Ceisteanna (134)

John Curran

Ceist:

134. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the targets and timelines he has set out in order to increase the number of accessible taxis in the fleet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22909/19]

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.

The regulation of the small public service vehicle industry is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA), under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013. The NTA also has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in these matters, I have forwarded your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. 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

Public Transport Provision

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

Ceisteanna (135, 136)

John Curran

Ceist:

135. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to invest in accessible coach stop infrastructure in Bus Éireann under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 9 on accessibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22910/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

136. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to ensure a fully wheelchair accessible rail service under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 9 on accessibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22911/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 136 together.

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. Newer systems such as LUAS are fully accessible.

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 10 year period of the Plan, 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 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, as well as in bus stop infrastructure outside of the cities.

To address infrastructural legacy issues, my Department funds a programme of accessibility improvement grants to upgrade existing and older infrastructure and facilities, such as the installation of accessible bus stops, upgrading train stations to make them accessible to wheelchair users, and providing grant support for the introduction of more wheelchair accessible vehicles into the taxi fleet. 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. €7 million of that funding has been allocated for 2019, up from €4 million in 2018. The NTA manages the Retro-fit Programme.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have forwarded your questions to the NTA for further response to you. 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 (137)

James Lawless

Ceist:

137. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to plans to introduce a bus service linking Caragh village to Naas town and Sallins train station. [22923/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA), in conjunction with Bus Éireann, 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 response within ten working days.

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

Road Projects

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

Ceisteanna (138)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

138. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of progress on the Macroom bypass; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22939/19]

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.

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 (139)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

139. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of vehicles in the Dublin Bus fleet and a company (details supplied) to date; and the number in the Dublin Bus fleet in each of the years 2009 to 2018, in tabular form. [23007/19]

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. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including the PSO fleet for the Dublin region.

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

Bus Services

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

Ceisteanna (140)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

140. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of buses removed from service during the summer period in both Dublin Bus and a company (details supplied). [23008/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA), in conjunction with both operators. I have therefore forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA 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

Ceisteanna (141)

John Curran

Ceist:

141. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the exact low emission technology for the future purchasing of Dublin buses has been determined; the work being prepared for the implementation of no longer purchasing diesel only buses from July 2019 onwards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23039/19]

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. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including bus fleet procurement.

The Deputy is aware that Project Ireland 2040 commits toward ending the purchase of diesel-only buses of our urban PSO bus fleets from July 2019 onward. The NTA has very recently advertised its intent to enter into a new bus purchase framework agreement which reflects that commitment and seeks to purchase hybrid buses for next year.

The medium and longer term approach to the NTA's procurement of low-carbon buses will be informed by a range of matters, including the outcomes of trials of low-emission buses, being conducted for my Department. Those trials, which are expected to conclude in the coming weeks, are examining a range of alternatives including electric, diesel-electric hybrid, hydrogen, compressed natural gas/biogas and retrofitted diesel buses to Euro VI-class standard.

I am pleased to see fulfilment of our commitment to ending the purchase of diesel-only buses for the urban PSO bus fleets and am satisfied that our on-going research on the medium and longer term technology potential will inform the NTA's approach to its bus purchase programme in the years ahead.

Childcare Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (142)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

142. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the new regulations under the Childcare Support Act 2018 have forced crèches to reduce the number of places they are offering which will leave many children without childcare; her plans to accommodate those children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22946/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018, followed an amendment to the Child Care Act 1991 that was made in the Childcare Support Act 2018. These regulations enable us to begin the long sought after quality assurance of school-age childcare services which is required to best serve children and families

In setting regulatory requirements, the primary consideration must be children’s health, safety and well-being, and these were the primary factors considered when setting a minimum 1:12 adult-to-child ratio in the new Regulations for school-age childcare. The 1:12 ratio was selected following consultation with an expert group on school-age childcare standards, which included a range of sector representatives among its members. The working group report that was submitted to my Department in 2018 recommended a 1 adult to 11 children ratio. A 1:8 ratio was recommended in a 2005 working-group report. My Department ultimately decided on a 1:12 ratio.

I do not expect to see an overall reduction in the number of school-age childcare places as a result of the School-Age Childcare Regulations. In setting the ratio requirement, current practice was considered; while some providers have until now operated higher ratios than 1:12, many have operated lower ratios. The 1:12 ratio requirement is close to the working group recommendation, and while some individual services may have to recruit additional staff or reduce places (if they choose to keep their staffing level constant), this will not be true for all school-age childcare services. Nevertheless, following discussions with sector representatives, to give service providers time to adjust to the new requirement I made a decision earlier this year to delay the date on which the 1:12 ratio comes into force by 6 months, from 18th February to 18th August 2019. This decision recognised the difficulty for providers of adjusting their staffing ratio in the middle of the school year. If, in spite of the adjustment period for service providers, any parent finds it difficult securing a school-age childcare place for September, they should contact their local City / County Childcare Committee, which is available to support parents to locate childcare within their locality. Local contact details for City / County Childcare Committees can be found at www.myccc.ie. The introduction of Regulations for school-age childcare is a new and important development. While the Regulations introduced this year are limited in scope, I intend to introduce comprehensive Regulations that build on the initial Regulations as well as on the recommendations made by the standards working group.

Public consultation is built into the process of developing these comprehensive Regulations for school-age childcare. On May 21st my Department launched the public consultation process. The consultation comprises an open call for submissions and an online public survey which are open until 5th July, as well as a focus group session with School Age Childcare Providers and an Open Policy Debate, both of which will take place in June. Further information and links to the online survey and call for submissions can be found on the DCYA website www.dcya.gov.ie.

Local Authority Functions

Ceisteanna (143)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

143. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if legislation or powers are available to allow local authorities to CPO land for the provision of burial grounds; if so, the details of the legislation or powers; if there is no legislation, his plans to introduce such legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23017/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Local Government Acts provide powers to local authorities to compulsorily purchase lands, including for the provision of land for burial grounds.

Part 14 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 can also be used by local authorities to compulsorily acquire land.

Community Development Initiatives

Ceisteanna (144)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

144. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will report on the national community weekend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23020/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

'The Big Hello', the National Community Weekend, took place over the recent May public holiday weekend. The event aimed to support communities to host events in their local area in order to strengthen community ties and help tackle the issue of social isolation.

The event was organised by my Department in partnership with a number of representatives of community and voluntary organisations.

€10,000 was allocated to each Local Community Development Committee to support local events, with many local authorities providing additional funding from their own resources.

The Big Hello proved to be a great success, with 800 events taking place as well as 1,100 Street Feasts who are one of my Department's partners in this initiative. A report on the impact of the initiative is being compiled and will be submitted to me shortly.

Community Services Programme

Ceisteanna (145)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

145. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the review of the community services programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23021/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Community Services Programme, or CSP, supports around 400 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model. Funding is provided as a contribution to the cost of a manager and an agreed number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. More than €46 million is available under the programme in 2019.

My Department recently commenced a review of the CSP. A review was considered opportune as the programme had not been formally reviewed since 2006, during which time the external environment had changed significantly.

The review will consider how the programme fits with overall Government priorities, as well as with my Department’s other community programmes and policy objectives, and will help inform decisions on the future shape and structure of the programme.

The review is being carried out by an independent review body, Indecon Consultants. They have commenced engagement with key stakeholders including all CSP supported organisations. The review will take six months to complete, with a final report expected in early Autumn 2019.

Recreational Facilities

Ceisteanna (146)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

146. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of his proposal to introduce an indemnity scheme for landowners with regards to the use of their land for recreational purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23022/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Sport Ireland Trails (formally The National Trails Office) holds an insurance policy covering approved National Way-Marked Ways and Looped Walks, to protect landowners against claims for loss or damage from recreational users of these trails.

The insurance policy covers trails that meet a specified standard, and includes all trails currently included in my Department's Walks Scheme.

As the Deputy will be aware, my officials have been working to develop a national scheme to protect private landowners in upland areas from possible claims from recreational users while on their lands. My Department has been advised that the introduction of any such indemnity scheme will require legislation.

My officials met with the Attorney General's Office recently to explore the various options open to the Department and to identify the precise legislation which would be required to implement an indemnity scheme.

This is a complex issue, as it is not possible to define trails on hills and mountains in the same manner as the Way-Marked Trails; many of the lands are also commonages.

The legal rights of landowners must also be respected by any scheme, while at the same time trying to maintain access to these lands for recreational users on a permissive basis.

My officials will continue to work to resolve this matter. In the meantime, I will shortly be announcing details of a new mandate for Comhairle na Tuaithe (The Countryside Council) to help strengthen the development of the outdoor recreation sector generally and to realise the potential of outdoor activities for the benefit of rural communities.

Comhairle na Tuaithe

Ceisteanna (147)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

147. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the restructuring of Comhairle na Tuaithe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23023/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Comhairle na Tuaithe (the Countryside Council) was established as a non-statutory group in February 2004 to address the issues of:

- access to the countryside

- developing a countryside code, and

- developing a countryside recreation strategy.

While Comhairle has been successful in delivering on its original mandate, an independent review of Comhairle na Tuaithe was completed in 2016 which made a number of recommendations to improve the structures and operations of the group to achieve a more integrated and shared vision around countryside access and usage.

The review noted that countryside recreation has an increasingly important role as a mechanism for rural economic development, job creation, social interaction, education, and enhanced physical and mental health.

I met with Comhairle last year to hear directly from the members their views on the recommendations of the independent review. I also heard the members' views on the future direction of Comhairle and on the development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland generally. That meeting was very constructive in helping me to formulate proposals for the future development of the outdoor recreation sector.

A meeting of Comhairle na Tuaithe has been scheduled for 6th June and I will outline my proposals on the future structure, operation and mandate of Comhairle na Tuaithe at that meeting.

Dog Breeding Industry

Ceisteanna (148)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

148. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the review of dog legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23024/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Last year, following a public consultation process my Department published new Guidelines for Dog Breeding Establishments. These were put in place under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010, and came into effect on 1 January of this year.

Having published the new Guidelines, my Department is now identifying any necessary legislative changes that may be required to further improve standards.

This review will involve examining relevant legislation to ensure that existing laws and international best practice, as well as the views of stakeholders, are taken into account. Any amendments to the Act will be dependent on the outcome of this review. This work is ongoing and will continue throughout 2019.

It is also my intention to publish a consultation paper in the coming weeks that will seek to review measures relating to the control of dogs in Ireland to ensure an appropriate approach is in place for the effective control of dogs in Ireland.