Public Transport

Ceisteanna (2495)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2495. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to address a recent timetable change on the Local Link Longford-Westmeath service from Mullingar to Rathowen (details supplied); and his plans to rectify the matter. [34312/19]

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.

As the Deputy will be aware, 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.

Noting this, I have forward 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.

Road Projects

Ceisteanna (2496)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

2496. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider providing funding for the east-west link that is urgently needed in the north east; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As I have previously outlined on 9th July, 2019, proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.

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

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

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

As regards the national road element of an east-west link, I have referred the question to Transport Infrastructure Ireland for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Rail Network Expansion

Ceisteanna (2497)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

2497. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of plans for the Limerick-Foynes railway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34336/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) has been leading on work in relation to a potential reinstatement of the Limerick to Foynes rail line as part of the Port's overall masterplan redevelopment.

The detailed design process and associated reports commissioned by SFPC were completed at the end of 2018.

I understand SFPC and Iarnród Éireann are currently working together to determine a viable business case for potential reinstatement from a rail freight perspective. This process will require a feasibility study which SFPC and Iarnród Éireann estimate will take six months to complete.

Road Signage

Ceisteanna (2498)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2498. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the policy deficit in terms of dealing with the inconsistencies in advertising signs on the motorway network. [34349/19]

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, construction and operation of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

I am aware that you contacted my Department on this issue and that a detailed reply has recently issued to you. I trust this reply will cover the question raised.

Taxi Ranks

Ceisteanna (2499)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

2499. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of taxi permits issued by the Dublin Airport Authority to taxi drivers in each of the past three years. [34436/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As daa has statutory responsibility for the management and operation of Dublin Airport, I have forwarded your question to the Company for direct reply. If the Deputy does not receive a reply within ten working days, please advise my Private Office.

Taxi Licences

Ceisteanna (2500)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

2500. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of active licensed taxis; the number of active taxi drivers; and his views on whether there are sufficient taxis to meet demand. [34437/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days

Greenways Development

Ceisteanna (2501)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

2501. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of each greenway project under construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34439/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Last month I announced €40m of funding was awarded to ten greenways across the country. While I look forward to their development none have yet started construction. Construction work on these greenways will take place, for the most part, from 2020 onwards. My Department has also previously provided funding to a number of projects including South Kerry Greenway; the Galway to Moycullen Greenway; the Great Western Greenway the Suir Blueway and the Waterford Greenway, however these are either completed or not currently under construction.

The other main project which my Department is progressing is the Dublin to Galway Greenway. Over the course of the next year this greenway is scheduled to be completed from Maynooth to the River Shannon in Athlone. The status of the various sections of this greenway under construction is as follows:

The Moyvalley to Kilmore section in Co. Kildare will be completed by mid-August; an underpass in Athlone was completed this month; the section of the Greenway at Ferns Lock in Co. Meath will be completed by the end of August; construction on the Greenway to bring it down to the Shannon will take place between October 2019 and March 2020 following some archaeological work taking place at the site this Summer.

There are also a number of projects that have been mostly funded under the Interreg programme. None of these are currently under construction and are largely at the planning phase. Route 3 (Lifford to Strabane) of the North West Greenway is due to begin construction by Autumn 2019.

Road Toll Operators

Ceisteanna (2502)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

2502. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount spent on compensation to toll operators on national routes; the amount paid in 2018; and the expected compensation that will have to be paid in 2019 to toll operators. [34440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and 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, including the operation of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Therefore, matters relating to the day to day operations regarding national roads, including toll roads and the establishment of a system of tolls, is under the remit of TII. More specifically, the statutory power to levy tolls, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into agreements with private investors, is vested in TII under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended).

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.

Rural Transport Programme Expenditure

Ceisteanna (2503)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

2503. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the spending by county on the rural transport programme in each of the past five years, in tabular form; and the details of studies on the service performance of the programme since the move towards administering it via transport co-ordination units in 2013. [34441/19]

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.

Noting this, I have forward 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.

Road Improvement Schemes

Ceisteanna (2504)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

2504. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount spent to date in 2019 on the maintenance and improvement of local and regional roads. [34442/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. Details of regional and local road grant allocations to local authorities for 2019 are outlined in the regional and local road grant allocation booklet which is available in the Oireachtas Library.

The tables included in the regional and local payment and allocation booklets outline expenditure by type of grant programme. For the Deputy's information an explanation of the purpose of the main improvement and maintenance Regional and Local Road Grant Programmes is set out below, along with a table showing spend to end June in 2019 in these grant categories:

Restoration Maintenance (RM): The purpose of the RM grant is to protect the structural integrity of the road by way of surface dressing through the sealing of the road surface. The purpose of restoration maintenance is to maintain the asset before it requires improvement.

Restoration Improvement Grant (RI): The RI grant programme is the main road strengthening programme and caters for surface restoration, pavement overlay works, complete road rehabilitation works and for drainage works where required.

Discretionary Grant (DG): Councils have discretion in spending these grants for improvement and maintenance works subject to selecting from a list of eligible works. However Councils are requested to prioritise projects which involve strengthening works, remedying road defects, winter maintenance and drainage works.

Bridge Rehabilitation (BR): This programme allows local authorities to apply for monies to undertake bridge rehabilitation works.

Safety Improvement Works (BS): This programme allows local authorities to apply for monies to undertake safety improvement works.

Community Involvement Scheme (CIS): The programme facilitates community involvement in repair and improvement of roads.

Drainage Programme: The purpose of this grant is to promote network resilience.

A pilot scheme has been implemented to provide assistance to local authorities specifically for the maintenance of Former National (FN) roads.

Specific Grant and Strategic Grants: The Department no longer seeks annual applications from local authorities in respect of the Specific (road improvement schemes costing up to €5m.) and Strategic (improvement schemes costing over €5m.) grant programmes. Instead it considers projects on a case by case basis taking into account the availability of funding and the outcome of project appraisals.

Severe Weather: Arising from a commitment made regarding flood damage to RLR in Donegal in 2017, provision is being made to meet outstanding repair costs.

Grant Category

2019 Spend to end June (€)

Restoration Improvement

34,289,605

Restoration Maintenance

3,736,545

Supplementary RM

346,743

Bridge Rehabilitation

1,033,425

Safety Improvement Works

396,697

Community Involvement Scheme

1,639,893

Discretionary Grant

38,289,506

Drainage Works

2,623,842

Former National Roads

3,226

Specific Improvement Grants

1,685,817

Strategic RLR Grants

13,677,642

Severe Weather

574,596

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Ceisteanna (2505)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

2505. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of funding for a boxing centre of excellence in Knocknaheeny, County Cork. [34445/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I am aware that the Cork County Boxing Board previously expressed interest in developing a boxing headquarters and centre of excellence in Knocknaheeny, Cork.

In relation to Government support for significant sports capital development projects, the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) opened for applications on 19th November 2018 and the closing date for receipt of applications was 17th April 2019. The fund is initially focusing on the requirements and development plans of National Governing Bodies of Sport and Local Authorities, all of which received letters inviting them to make applications. An application for funding towards this project has not been received under the LSSIF however. The Irish Amateur Boxing Authority has submitted a separate application for funding. Details of all applications under the LSSIF are available on my Department's website.

Cork County Boxing Board has previously received funding under the Sports Capital Programme (SCP) including grants for equipment under both of the most recent rounds of the programme. Full details of all allocations under the SCP are also available on my Department's website.

Swimming Pool Programme Data

Ceisteanna (2506)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

2506. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of publicly funded swimming pools; and the full capacity in terms of pool space and lessons of each by local authority and per capita. [34446/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme (LASPP), as operated by my Department, provides grant aid to local authorities towards the capital costs of new swimming pools or the refurbishment of existing pools. To date 52 pools have been completed and three swimming pool projects remain in the current LASPP.

In relation to the future development of large sport infrastructure projects including swimming pools, the National Development Plan confirmed the establishment of a new Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) with at least €100m available over the coming years. The new scheme opened for applications on 19th November 2018 and the closing date for applications was the 17th April 2019. Swimming pool projects are eligible under the scheme. Full details of all applications received, including those for swimming pools are available on the Department's website. Allocations under the LSSIF are expected later this year.

While my Department provides capital funding to local authorities for the construction of swimming pools, it has no role in the day to day arrangements for the operation of pools. Accordingly, my Department does not hold information in relation to lessons and other activities taking place in these pools.

Appointments to State Boards

Ceisteanna (2507)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

2507. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the criteria used for reappointments to the taxi advisory committee. [34447/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Appointments to the Advisory Committee on Small Public Service Vehicles, commonly referred to as the Taxi Advisory Committee, are made in accordance with s.72 of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013 and with regard to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards.

Emergency Services Data

Ceisteanna (2508)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

2508. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of State-owned emergency and rescue vehicles versus the number of leased privately owned emergency and rescue vehicles here, in tabular form; his plans to address the minimal quantity of State-owned emergency and rescue electric vehicles that have been dispatched to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34507/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The detail below provides an answer to the information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number of State-owned emergency and rescue vehicles versus the number of privately-owned emergency and rescue vehicles in tabular form and the plan to address the minimal quantity of State-owned emergency and rescue electric vehicles that have been dispatched to date.

Number of Emergency and Rescue Vehicles Taxed at 30th June 2019

Taxation Class

State Owned

Non State Owned

Total

Emergency Service Vehicle

926

70

996

Emergency Rescue Vehicle

43

115

158

Total

969

185

1,154

Points to Note on these figures:-

- The Non-State owned vehicles includes both private companies and organisations partially funded by the state e.g. Red Cross.

- Garda cars are not included in the above, they are classified as state owned but not emergency.

- We cannot give details on whether these vehicles are leased or not as we do not hold this information in the database.

The whole-of Government Climate Action Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption. The transport sector, which accounts for about 20% of Ireland’s overall carbon emissions, must play a central role in the national decarbonisation effort. The national car fleet accounts for over half of all land transport emissions, and so a transition to low emission vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), is a necessary step-change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions.

In order to expedite the deployment of low emitting vehicles an inter-Departmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce was jointly established by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to consider a full suite of potential measures available to Government. Phase 1 of the Taskforce concentrated on EVs; the important leadership role that Public Bodies and Government Departments can play in encouraging LEV uptake was examined. The Taskforce recommended the introduction of a new public procurement framework for EVs by 2020 and this recommendation was echoed in the Climate Action Plan (Action 149). The Office of Government Procurement is now developing a direct drawdown mechanism to allow public sector bodies to purchase an EV with a reduced administrative burden. It is expected that this measure will promote greater uptake of EVs in the State vehicle fleet, significantly reducing corresponding automotive emissions.

It is important to state that due to certain operational requirements and the specific nature of the work involved, it is not always possible to transition some State vehicles to lower emitting alternatives. As technologies develop and a greater range of purpose-specific low emitting vehicles expands it is expected that more feasible alternatives will become commercially available. At that point, all options will be considered when procuring vehicles within the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport with low emitting alternatives being favoured.

I would like to reassure the Deputy that I will continue to work closely with Ministers Bruton and Donohoe and their respective Departments to map out the new policy pathway that will be necessary to ensure that Ireland and the State are well positioned to make the transition to low emission vehicles as efficiently and rapidly as possible.

Electric Vehicle Grants

Ceisteanna (2509)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

2509. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to introduce further electric vehicle subsidies in order to meet requirements set out in the Climate Action Plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34584/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The whole-of-Government Climate Action Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption. The national car fleet accounts for over half of all land transport emissions, and so a transition to low emission vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), is a necessary change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions. Accordingly, EVs are a prominent mitigation technology in the new Plan, with a target of 180,000 EVs on our roads by 2025 and 936,000 EVs by 2030. While these are very challenging targets, the rate of uptake of EVs has grown significantly in the past year (albeit from a small base) with over 11,700 EVs on Irish roads by the end of June 2019, which is more than double the number at the end of June 2018.

It is expected that improvements in battery and recharging technologies will continue to advance and more vehicle models will become available and cheaper in the coming years making the switch to EVs easier for consumers. Concerted efforts across several Departments will be essential to encourage and support continuation of the current trajectory of EV sales. I will continue to work closely with Ministers Bruton and Donohoe and their respective Departments to map out the new policy pathway that will be necessary to ensure that Ireland is well positioned to make the transition to electrification as efficiently as possible.

Acknowledging it is the Government’s job to ensure that conditions and policies are in place to support citizens in making greener vehicle choices, an interdepartmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce, co-chaired by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, was established to consider the range of measures and options available to Government to accelerate the EV take-up. Preliminary recommendations from the Taskforce were considered ahead of Budgets 2018 and 2019 and a suite of continued and new EV supports were subsequently announced. Several of the principal supports, such as the EV Purchase Grant Scheme, the Domestic Charger Grant and the roll out of an extensive recharging network, fall under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. Support from the Department of Finance has also been fundamental in establishing the current positive policy environment under which we have already seen EV sales rise steeply over the past year.

I am directly responsible for two initiatives supporting EV uptake rates: the Electric Vehicle Toll Incentive (EVTI) Scheme and the Electric Small Public Service Vehicle (eSPSV) Grant Scheme. The EVTI was designed to encourage private car commuters who regularly use tolled roads to consider switching to an EV. It is estimated that there are approximately 400,000 heavy toll users in Ireland so reduced tolls act as a meaningful incentive for a large number of vehicle owners. I have committed to continuing this incentive until 2022 or until a threshold of 50,000 registrations has been reached. The eSPSV Grant Scheme promotes the use of EVs in taxis/hackneys/limousines. Recognising the important role that the SPSV sector can play in demonstrating EV technology to a wider audience I have agreed, under the Climate Action Plan, later this year to improve the value of the eSPSV grant to those transitioning to wheelchair accessible electric SPSVs to make EVs available to a greater number of our citizens.

In addition, a number of new EV actions have been outlined in the Climate Action Plan relating to improving the level of recharging infrastructure and developing a roadmap on the optimum mix of regulatory, taxation and subsidy policies to drive significant ramp-up in EVs sales. These actions will be pursued in successive budgets. Collectively, I believe that the actions taken to date alongside the actions outlined in the Plan will see us progress towards our challenging EV targets.

Tender Process

Question No. 2511 answered with Question No. 2326.

Ceisteanna (2510)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

2510. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the procedures and process set by his Department for TII in the tendering for works by an SME to carry out emergency pavement and highway repairs along the national routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34598/19]

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. This also includes responsibility for the procurement and tendering process associated with the national roads programme.

In that regard, TII, as a Statutory Body, operate under the Public Procurement Guidelines which are set at National Level.

Question No. 2511 answered with Question No. 2326.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland Expenditure

Question No. 2513 answered with Question No. 2382.

Ceisteanna (2512)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

2512. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the quarterly spend by TII on emergency highway, roadway and pavement repairs that are not put through the public tender system; if they can quantify that to a square foot, square meter or per kilometre of road (details supplied).; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34604/19]

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. Once funding arrangements have been put in place by my Department with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction, including the maintenance of individual national roads is a matter for TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. TII also manage and distribute the capital roads programme budget.

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.

Question No. 2513 answered with Question No. 2382.

Greenways Funding

Ceisteanna (2514)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

2514. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the funding provided to greenways in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [34658/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Since 2016, my Department has provided a total of €59,896,386 to Greenways around the country. This figure represents the amount allocated for construction the Greenways, rather than the amount drawn down. The breakdown of this figure by year is below.

Year

Amount

2016

€3,821,861

2017

€7,998,697

2018

€2,331,000

2019

€45,744,828

In addition to the €40m announced for 10 different Greenways in June, my Department has this year provided funding to Transport Infrastructure Ireland to carry out work on the Dublin to Galway Greenway in order to bring it as far as the River Shannon in Athlone.

Bus Services

Ceisteanna (2515)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

2515. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the financial penalties that will be applied to a company (details supplied) by the NTA as a result of the bus services provided by them not meeting the targets set out in its contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34660/19]

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 in Ireland. 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 response within ten working days.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Ceisteanna (2516)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

2516. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons working in his Department on a wage of less than €12.30 per hour; the number disaggregated by professional role; and the estimated cost of increasing salaries of those on a wage of less than €12.30 per hour to a wage of €12.30 per hour. [34681/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

There are currently 57 people in the Department on a wage of less than €12.30 per hour. The number disaggregated by grade is as outlined in Table 1.

TABLE 1

Grade

Number of Employees

Clerical Officers

51

Service Officers

4

ICT Apprentices

2

The estimated cost of increasing salaries for those in the Department on less than €12.30 per hour to €12.30 per hour is of the order of €200,000 per annum based on current pay rates.

As the Deputy is aware, the living wage of €12.30 per hour is not a statutory entitlement. Policy in relation to the determination of salary rates for all public servants, including staff in my Department, is a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

School Completion Programme

Ceisteanna (2517)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

2517. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of restoring the school completion programme to 2010 levels. [31688/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) was transferred from the Department of Education to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on its establishment in 2011.

In January 2014 Tusla, the Child and Family Agency was established and as part of the remit of the Agency they took on the functions of the former NEWB: chiefly the Education and Welfare Services (EWS). The EWS comprises the statutory functions relating to Educational Welfare Officers; the operationalisation of the Home School Community Liaison Scheme; and the funding of the School Completion Programme (SCP).

The 124 SCP projects are funded in line with the academic year, commencing in September each year. Funding provision for the SCP in the 2018/2019 school year stands at €24.7 million. The Programme experienced funding reductions during the financial crisis and while funding for the SCP has remained at the same level in recent years, Tusla has advised that full-year cost of restoring the SCP to 2010 funding levels would be in the region of €7.3 million per annum.

As the Deputy may be aware, my Department has developed and is currently consulting on the draft Blueprint for the Development of Education and Welfare Services which, for the first time will provide a policy platform to secure and further sustain this valuable work. A substantive area of action in this policy relates to the SCP and the redesign of the School Completion Programme to ensure its development is actively supported.

As part of this process I will be seeking to ensure appropriate and additional funding is secured to support the further development of the School Completion Programme in meeting the needs of children and young people.

Childcare Services Staff

Ceisteanna (2518)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

2518. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason childcare and crèche workers are not entitled to sick and holiday pay and their wages are as low as €11 an hour. [31703/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the State is not the employer, my Department does not pay the wages of staff working in early learning and care settings, and I cannot set wage levels or determine working conditions for these staff. Staff are either employed by private or community-based organisations or are self-employed sole traders.

Low pay and poor working conditions in the sector are a priority concern for me, given the importance for child outcomes of recruiting and retaining qualified staff and upskilling the workforce, and given the need to recognise the value of the work that is carried out by early learning and care professionals.

I am doing all that is in my power to improve wages and working conditions in the sector. I have repeatedly called for the sector to pursue a Sectoral Employment Order, which offers a viable mechanism to establish appropriate wage levels. My Department will readily co-operate with such a process when it is underway.

In the interim, I have introduced a range of measures to support employers to improve pay and conditions. These include a 7% increase in ECCE capitation in 2018; higher capitation payments for graduates and Inclusion Coordinators; annual Programme Support Payments to recognise administrative demands; support for School-Age Childcare which will make it easier to offer full-time employment contracts; and a pilot measure to fund participation in CPD.

I have set out my vision for the sector, and a roadmap to achieve it, in First 5. First 5 commits to a Workforce Development Plan, to raise the profile of careers in the sector and to ensure sufficient numbers of staff at all levels. The Steering Group for the Workforce Development Plan met for the first time on 30th May, and the Stakeholder Group held its first meeting on 9th July. First 5 also commits to develop a new funding model for the sector, which may open up new mechanisms to influence pay and conditions.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (2519)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

2519. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities optional protocol; if so, when; if not, the reason therefor; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32795/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The ratification of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its protocols falls under the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality. The Department of Justice will answer the question directly as it was sent to my Department in error.