Rail Services

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

Ceisteanna (544)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

544. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the actions he plans to take regarding the perceived dangerous overcrowding on Irish Rail services on the Sligo to Connolly route daily (details supplied). [24974/19]

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

I acknowledge the fact that at certain times of the day, some rail services are currently crowded due to the level of demand. The Deputy 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 network.

In view of Iarnród Éireann's responsibility in the matter, 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 10 working days.

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

Sports Capital Programme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (545)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

545. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the documents submitted with an application for a sports capital grant by a club (details supplied) invalidates the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24978/19]

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.

Next 619 equipment only applications were assessed and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced to these organisations in May.

Work is now underway in assessing the remaining applications for capital works, including the application referred to by the Deputy.

For the first time applicants who 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 will be September before the full set of allocations under this current round of the programme are announced.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland Projects

Ceisteanna (546)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

546. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if arrangements or agreements have been entered into by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, or the National Transport Authority, NTA, with a third party in respect of the development of a building (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25014/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy refers to, these particular construction works relate to a private development being constructed by a private company pursuant to a planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála.

Details of that planning permission and conditions attached thereto are available to view on the website of An Bord Pleanála.

I understand that the particular development is now subject to judicial proceedings taken by persons against the private developer and I do not propose to comment on the matter whilst those proceedings are taking place.

Road Projects Status

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

Ceisteanna (547, 548, 549)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

547. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the M20 Limerick to Cork motorway project; the consultation process, costs and timelines for completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25032/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

548. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the route of the M20 Limerick to Cork motorway project has been finalised; if so, the details of the route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25033/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

549. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if consideration has been given to the potential impact of the M20 Limerick to Cork motorway on farms; if his attention has been drawn to farms which may be impacted by the route of the motorway which may include compulsory purchase of farms or dividing farms into different lots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25034/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 547 to 549, inclusive, together.

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, procurement 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 your 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

Local Authority Funding

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

Ceisteanna (550)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

550. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if smaller towns and villages are eligible for funding under the recently announced destination towns funding stream; and the criteria for applications through the scheme. [25058/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I believe the Deputy is referring to Fáilte Ireland's Destination Towns initiative – a capital investment scheme for Local Authorities to enhance public spaces in developed and emerging tourism destinations in a way that will engage tourists and enhance their experience.

In this regard, it is my understanding that the scheme has no stipulations regarding the size of towns or villages that may be proposed under the scheme; rather it is a matter for each Local Authority to propose one or two towns or villages that it deems to have the best potential to become a "destination town", or hub, for tourists.

I have asked Fáilte Ireland to reply directly to the Deputy with further detail on the scheme and the criteria applying. 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

Sports Capital Programme Administration

Ceisteanna (551)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

551. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason a club (details supplied) is waiting so long to get a signature to finish drawing down funding it was granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I understand that the club referred to by the Deputy has submitted a capital application under the 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme (SCP) and these applications are currently being assessed. I expect that allocations in respect of these capital applications will be announced in the coming months.

While there is no SCP funding outstanding to the club in question, the club has received previous funding and in line with the normal SCP terms and conditions, the Minister has placed a legal charge on the club's property to secure the state's investment.

I understand that the club is now taking out a bank loan and that the bank requires an interlender agreement. My Department is happy to facilitate the club in this regard and has instructed the Chief State Solicitor's Office in this regard. I understand that the legal matters are now nearing finalisation. Once the matter is finalised, there will be no undue delay in issuing approval to the proposed interlender agreement.

Sports Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (552)

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

552. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a club (details supplied) will be granted funding under the sports capital programme; the details of the funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25273/19]

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.

Next 619 equipment only applications were assessed and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced to these organisations in May.

Work is now underway in assessing the remaining applications for capital works, including an application from the organisation referred to by the Deputy.

For the first time applicants who 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 will be September before the full set of allocations under this current round of the programme are announced.

Driver Licensing Exchange Agreements

Ceisteanna (553)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

553. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 523 of 9 April 2019, if categories of driver licence can be converted (details supplied). [25279/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

 As detailed in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 523 of 9 April 2019, there are some UK categories known as ‘National Categories’ that only apply in the UK and they are not exchangeable. For example, in the UK if you passed your test for category B (car) before 1 January 1997, your licence would show entitlement to C1 and C1E (trucks) and D1 and D1E (bus) categories. These categories are given with restrictions identified by codes.

The C1E category with a restriction code 107 on it entitles the driver to drive a C1E vehicle provided the combined weight of the trailer and the towing vehicle does not exceed 8.25 tonnes/kg. In Ireland the combined weight of the C1E is 12 tonne/kg. Therefore we do not have an equivalent to exchange this category for. The D1 and D1E categories with a restriction code 101 on it only allows the driver to drive a vehicle not for hire or reward. We do not have the corresponding category so cannot exchange it. Code 101 and 107 are UK codes and are not available in Ireland, and so can not be converted.

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (554)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

554. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the new bridge at Ballina-Killaloe; the stage at which the project is at; the projected dates for completion; the funds granted and ring-fenced for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25289/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

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. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants.

The Shannon Bridge Crossing at Killaloe is one element of the proposed Shannon Crossing/Killaloe Bypass/R494 upgrade scheme. Clare County Council is responsible for implementation of the scheme which is at planning and design stage. An updated Business Case for the scheme is in the process of being finalised as required in the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework.

Funding for the scheme, which is scheduled to be completed in 2023, is being provided from the overall Project Ireland 2040 capital envelope for regional and local road improvement projects.

Air Transport Pre-clearance

Ceisteanna (555)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

555. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the operation of the pre-clearance area for the United States at Dublin Airport is subject to United States or Irish law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25311/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

US Preclearance facilitates passengers of US bound flights to fully clear all US controls before leaving Ireland. It is a valuable asset for Ireland and has been an enormous success, with 1.9 passengers availing of the service at Shannon and Dublin Airports in 2018. I thank the Deputy for this opportunity to clarify the status of the facilities, which operate under the terms of an international agreement between Ireland and the US.

The US Preclearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon Airports are within Irish jurisdiction and the laws of Ireland apply at all times. US Customs and Border Protection Officers are not equipped with firearms or any other offensive weapons. US Preclearance Officers are not considered law enforcement officers. The only law enforcement officers at Irish airports are An Garda Síochána members and Customs Officers.

Passengers present voluntarily for preclearance and avail of the facility on a consensual basis. Until their flight departs, passengers remain in Irish legal jurisdiction and have the right to withdraw from the preclearance process at any time. The decision to allow a passenger enter the United States is a matter solely for US Customs and Border Protection and no Irish official has any function in this.

An Garda Síochána provide a law enforcement presence to ensure the security of the Preclearance area and safety of Preclearance officers, travellers and airport staff. Law enforcement agencies, including US Customs and Border Protection consult and collaborate regularly to ensure the safety and security of all airport users.

CBP Preclearance Officers may detain a person in a limited number of circumstances and any persons detained under these provisions must be delivered forthwith into the custody of An Garda Síochána. The Agreement states that nothing therein diminishes the rights enjoyed by individuals under the Constitution and laws of Ireland.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (556)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

556. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of land purchased and leased by size and amount expended in the past five years to date; the location of same; the term of the lease and amount expended per year in cases in which land is leased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25393/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Office of Public Works (OPW), which comes under the remit of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, is responsible for the purchase and leasing of land for Government Departments, including the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, and accordingly details of any such purchase or lease is a matter for the OPW.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (557)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

557. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of buildings and property purchased and leased and the amount expended in the past five years to date; the location of same; the term of the lease and the amount expended per year in cases in which properties are leased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25410/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Office of Public Works (OPW), which comes under the remit of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, is responsible for the purchase and leasing of buildings and property for Government Departments, including the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, and accordingly details of any such purchase or lease is a matter for the OPW.

Regional Airports

Ceisteanna (558, 559, 560, 561, 562)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

558. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the conditions attached to the public funding of Waterford Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25518/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

David Cullinane

Ceist:

559. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the conditions attached to the public funding of Donegal, Knock and Kerry airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25519/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

David Cullinane

Ceist:

560. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason for his statement that the future of Waterford Airport is highly uncertain unless private funding is secured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25520/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

David Cullinane

Ceist:

561. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the difference in the announced matched funding plan for Waterford Airport as announced on 11 June 2019 and the commitment to matched funding in A Programme for a Partnership Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25521/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

David Cullinane

Ceist:

562. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason the decision has been taken to match public funds with private funds for the extension of the runway at Waterford Airport with the condition that the public funds are only released after the private funds have been secured first; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25522/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 558 to 562, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy refers, the Programme for Government committed to supplementing investment in Ireland’s regional airports and, following a review of the Capital Plan in 2017, an extra €17 million was provided to the Regional Airports Programme for allocation to these airports under the National Development Plan. This means, as part of Project Ireland 2040, a total of €72 million in capital funding is being committed to regional airports over the lifetime of the Plan.

In line with the terms of the capital funding schemes under the Regional Airports Programme, all grant aid to the regional airports including Donegal, IWAK and Kerry is payable on a reimbursement basis only, following the completion of works or the purchase of equipment. All grant aid claims must show evidence of expenditure before payment is made.

The model of funding put forward by Waterford Airport for this project is new to the Regional Airports Programme. Given the transformational nature of the project and the assessment of the risks arising, I felt it was prudent to ensure that the Exchequer support in this case would be subject to a number of provisos including the need for the procurement processes to demonstrate that the project can be implemented for €12 million. In addition, the Exchequer contribution of €5m will only be made on completion of the runway and on confirmation by the Irish Aviation Authority that the expanded runway is authorised for service.

The current runway at Waterford Airport has had a limiting effect on the types of aircraft that can operate there. As the Deputy will appreciate, this has impacted on the capacity of the airport to attract airlines. Accordingly, as I stated in my announcement, without the funding to extend the runway to accommodate larger jet aircraft, the future was looking very uncertain for Waterford Airport having had no scheduled air services in place since 2016.

This decision reaffirms this Government's pledge to encourage balanced regional development and to provide equal opportunities for growth and prosperity across all the regions including the South East.

Child and Family Agency Services

Ceisteanna (563)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

563. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of an application for assistance from Tusla by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24833/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Deputy may be aware that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on individual cases. I have referred the matter to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency for their appropriate attention and asked them to respond directly to the Deputy.

Childcare Services

Ceisteanna (564)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

564. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if it is a mandatory requirement for childcare providers to advertise their rates in a fully transparent manner; if the practice of holding monetary deposits in exchange for places has been drawn to her attention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24916/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Services who are in contract to provide any of my Department's childcare funding programmes must have their fees list, for all approved funding programmes, clearly displayed in an area accessible to parents/guardians. Pobal compliance inspectors who carry out unannounced inspections on service providers ensure that the approved fees list is clearly displayed and that it indicates the full fees and the reduced fees of the service based on the relevant approved programme funding i.e. the full fee less the funding approved.

The booking deposit rule for each DCYA childcare funding programme is outlined below.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE):

As per the rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 2018/19 document, in relation to the ECCE programme, the rule on deposits is as follows:

"A childcare provider may charge a refundable booking deposit to hold a place in the ECCE provision for a child. The maximum deposit a provider may charge is equivalent to four weeks’ ECCE payment. The totality of the ECCE deposit must be returned to the parent/guardian once the child’s registration is a programme is outlined below.

Approved on PIP" ( this means registered with Pobal).

The purpose of this clause is to prevent an over payment of exchequer funding, because if a child leaves a service provider unexpectedly, my Department will continue to pay their ECCE funding for 4 weeks.

Training and Employment Childcare (TEC):

As per the rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 18/19 document, in relation to the TEC programmes, the rule on deposits is as follows:

"A childcare provider may charge new parents/guardians a refundable booking deposit to hold a place for a child. The maximum deposit a provider may charge is equivalent to two weeks total payment. The full amount of the DCYA subvention held on deposit must be refunded to the parent/guardian once the child’s registration is approved. When and how the balance of the deposit is returned to the parent/guardian is a matter for the provider."

For example, where a service’s weekly fee is €200 and the subvention due is €145, the service may charge a maximum two week deposit of €400. Once the registration has been approved the service must refund the amount of €290 (145 x 2) to the parent/guardian.

Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) and the Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP):

As per the rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 2018/19 document, in relation to the CCS and CCSP programmes, the rule on deposits is as follows:

"A childcare provider may charge new parents/guardians a refundable booking deposit to hold a place for a child. The maximum deposit a provider may charge is equivalent to two weeks total payment. The full amount of the DCYA subvention held on deposit must be refunded to the parent/guardian once the child’s registration is approved. When and how the balance of the deposit is returned to the parent/guardian is a matter for the provider."

As in the example above, this means that where a service’s weekly fee is €200 and the subvention due is €145, the service may charge a maximum two week deposit of €400. Once the registration has been approved the service must refund the amount of €290 to the parent/guardian.

The Universal Subsidy (CCSU) is administered under the CCSP programme and is governed by the same rules, therefore the same rules apply for deposits.

Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (CCSR):

The CCSR programme provides dedicated childcare funding to Programme Refugees to support them in their resettlement and integration into Irish society. This cohort of families do not pay a deposit for childcare places. The rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 2018/19 states:

'Childcare providers must not request booking deposits from parents/guardians to hold a place'.

Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (Transitional) (CCSR(T)):

The CCSR(T) programme provides access to free childcare for children of families experiencing homelessness. This cohort of families do not pay a deposit for childcare places. The rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 2018/19 states:

'Childcare providers must not request any booking deposits from parents/guardians to hold a place'.

It must be noted that my Department is not the owner/employer of Early Years services; they are private businesses and their policy on deposits relating to levels of service not funded by my Department, including full time care, are a matter between the service provider and the individual parent.