Tourism Policy

Ceisteanna (505)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

505. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department has conducted studies into the tourism potential of State-owned heritage buildings and sites such as OPW sites. [39492/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Promoting Ireland's history, culture and heritage is an intrinsic element of all the Fáilte Ireland tourism experience brands.  With specific regard to historical and heritage sites and their related tourism product offering, these are particularly to the fore in Ireland's Ancient East, which has an especially rich and diverse range of heritage experiences.

Researching the potential of attractions and experiences relating to our heritage offering and deciding on related capital investments, enterprise supports and promotions are operational matters for Fáilte Ireland.  With specific regard to State-owned heritage buildings and sites, Fáilte Ireland has developed a series of strategic partnerships with key State bodies – including the OPW – that own and manage attractions and sites considered to be of vital importance to tourism.  Through these partnerships, Fáilte Ireland can assist with the refurbishment and enhancement of key visitor attractions and advise on further experience development and marketing.

I have asked Fáilte Ireland to respond to the Deputy directly with further detail on its strategic partnerships, especially that with the OPW, and any studies, research or insights relating to the tourism potential of our overall heritage offering.  Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (506)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

506. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1623, 1624, 1625 and 1626 of 6 September 2019, the number of times he has met the Minister for Justice and Equality in relation to a no-deal Brexit and contingency planning for this eventuality; and the number of times he has met the Minister for Defence and-or the Minister of State with special responsibility for defence in relation to a no-deal Brexit and contingency planning for this eventuality; the number of times he or his officials have met representatives from the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to planning for a no-deal Brexit; and the number of times he or his officials have met representatives from the Department of Defence in relation to a no-deal Brexit. [39493/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As previously noted, as a Minister of Government, I meet regularly with my cabinet colleagues including those Ministers mentioned on the topic of Brexit. Contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit has been considered by Cabinet on many occasions since 2016, and is now discussed on a weekly basis. 

At Official level, detailed Brexit preparedness and contingency work is being taken forward on a whole of Government basis, across all Government Departments and Agencies, co-ordinated mainly by officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in close collaboration with the Department of the Taoiseach.  Officials from my Department together with officials from the Department of Justice and Equality and from the Department of Defence and a range of other Departments and Offices work together in a number of such interdepartmental fora focused on Brexit preparedness. This detailed preparedness work includes all relevant transport and tourism contingency actions arising from Brexit.

Driver Licences

Ceisteanna (507)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

507. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a grace period will be extended to Irish citizens that hold UK driver licences but are unable to swap their licences before 31 October 2019, for example, if they will be residing abroad until December 2019. [39494/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Motorists resident in Ireland with a UK, including NI driving licence are being advised to exchange that licence for an Irish driving licence before the 31 October 2019.  In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK will no longer be a Member State and so the UK driving licence will not be recognised. People resident in Ireland will no longer be able to drive on a UK driving licence.

However, legislation exists to allow for the recognition of foreign driving licences for exchange purposes in the Road Traffic Acts.  If there is a no deal Brexit, the UK becomes a 3rd country and the potential then exists for arrangements to be made under those Acts.  Ireland will be pursuing this option.  This may take a little time to complete as it involves a formal agreement and legislation here in Ireland, as well as corresponding steps by the UK. 

Driver Licences

Ceisteanna (508)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

508. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the average processing time for a driver licence swap. [39495/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

At present, the average waiting time for the exchange of a UK driving licence for an Irish driving licence is 4 days. The exchange of any other driving licence for an Irish driving licence is taking on average 15 days.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (509)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

509. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number and dates that he has met the Taoiseach to discuss the recognition of UK driver licences in the event of a no-deal Brexit. [39496/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I have not held bilateral meetings with the Taoiseach to date specifically on this subject. However, contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit has been considered by Cabinet on many occasions since 2016, and is now discussed on a weekly basis and the matter of UK driver licenses has been included in the issues under consideration.

Additionally, my officials were in contact with officials from the Department of the Taoiseach in relation to UK driver licences during this year. My officials have also worked closely with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in seeking to encourage holders of UK driver licences  who are resident in Ireland to exchange their UK licence for an Irish licence in advance of 31 October 2019.   Following a no deal Brexit, a UK driving licence will no longer be valid for persons living in Ireland. The RSA has run a number of media campaigns including a further radio campaign which commenced on 23 September 2019 to encourage those living in Ireland and holding UK (including NI) driving licences to exchange these in good time before 31 October.

At the start of this process, it was estimated that some 70,000 UK licences were held by people resident in Ireland. Some 32,000 of these have been exchanged to date.  The RSA is adding extra hours to its opening hours in the NDLS Centres commencing on 7 October. The extra hours will be advertised on www.ndls.ie. Extra resources are also in place in the application processing centre to cater for the extra expected demand. At present, the average waiting time for the exchange of a UK driving licence for an Irish driving licence is 4 days.

Railway Stations

Ceisteanna (510)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

510. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the service that is out of order at a train station (details supplied); the length of time it is out of order; and the timeline for it to be repaired. [39511/19]

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

Rail Services Provision

Ceisteanna (511)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

511. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will introduce a system in which persons with a travel pass can book seats on Irish Rail trains in view of the fact the current system is leading to situations whereby sick and elderly persons are left standing long distances on trains; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39548/19]

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

Public Transport Initiatives

Ceisteanna (512)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

512. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to introduce a leap 90 discount scheme in the wider Cork area to complement the proposals in the CMATS strategy. [39552/19]

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 regulation of fares in relation to public passenger transport services.  I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

Ceisteanna (513)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

513. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if consideration will be given to an application by a group (details supplied) for funding under the sports capital funds for a new gymnasium. [39559/19]

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. 

619 equipment only applications were assessed next 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 further number of weeks to have all applications assessed with allocations announced shortly after that.  

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (514)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

514. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of roads (details supplied) in the context of allocated budget to date; the expected budget required to bring them to completion; the timeframe for each stage of the scheme. [39561/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and securing capital funding in relation to the national roads programme. Once funding arrangements have been put in place with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for TII in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  TII is, therefore, responsible for the distribution of funds under the Capital Programme for the implementation of the national roads programme in accordance with Project Ireland 2040, within the framework of the National Development Plan (NDP). Consequently, TII is best placed to advise on the current status and funding in respect of the above schemes. 

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a more detailed and direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Ports Development

Ceisteanna (515)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

515. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has received concerns from the tourism industry regarding the potential negative consequences on the sector owing to the new limits introduced with respect to cruise ship traffic using facilities at Dublin Port; if he has received requests from port authorities for additional funding in order to upgrade and-or expand harbour capacity with the view to accommodating a greater number of cruise ships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39586/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

With regard to the matter of requests from port authorities for additional funding, I wish to clarify that, under the National Ports Policy, no Exchequer funding is provided by my Department to the port companies.  

I am aware of some concerns amongst those working in the cruise tourism sector and related industry relating to planned construction works at Dublin Port, the impact on available cruise berths and potential broader tourism impacts.  I remain in contact with key stakeholders in this regard, including the ports, the tourism agencies and industry representatives, and I have encouraged them to take maximum advantage of other options at other ports during the period of construction at Dublin Port. 

Road Projects Data

Ceisteanna (516)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

516. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the TII sanctioned road projects for which full permissions have been granted by all planning and statutory bodies and in which all land needed has been acquired and for which funding has been provided in capital expenditure plans which have subsequently been reviewed by TII in the past five years with subsequent delays in construction; the reason for such a delay in each case by TII; the new timeline expected for construction; the original expected cost of the project; the new expected cost if known; the process by which delays reviews are sanctioned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39665/19]

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 with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Consequently, TII is best placed to advise on the current status and funding in respect of the schemes referred to in your question. 

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a more detailed and direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (517)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

517. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the tendering process for stage II of the Dunkettle interchange upgrade project; and the fast tracking or procurement for same. [39703/19]

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, 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 the question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Projects

Ceisteanna (518)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

518. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the route study for the M20 Cork to Limerick motorway. [39704/19]

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 route selection leading to 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.

Roads Maintenance Funding

Ceisteanna (519)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

519. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when funding for the Pettigo to Laghey road R232 in County Donegal will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39713/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, 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.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.

Overall my Department has agreed to provide grant support of up to €2.1m for maintenance and renewal works on the R232 Laghey to Pettigo road on a phased basis as funding allows.  So far €122,941 from an allocation of €500,000 at the start of this year has been drawn down  by Donegal County Council for this project.  While the final grant amount to be drawn down in 2019 has not been finalised as yet my Department has been liaising with the Council with a view to  facilitating  progress on the works.   Future allocations will decided as part of the annual Estimates process.

Road Traffic Legislation

Ceisteanna (520, 521)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

520. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the NTA plans to regulate the provision of horse-drawn carriages for hire in the Dublin city area. [39719/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

521. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will conduct a review of the regulation governing the use of horse-drawn carriages for hire in the Dublin city area and specifically the monitoring of the welfare of animals used and the qualifications of those providing the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39720/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 520 and 521 together.

In February 2011, Dublin City Council (DCC) took over responsibility for the licensing of horse-drawn carriage operators and drivers from the Garda Carriage Office. This was achieved through bye-laws enacted under Part 19 of the Local Government Act 2001 which provides a general power to a local authority to make bye-laws in relation to its own property or services or to regulate matters of local concern.  It is under this Act that local authorities can choose, using bye-laws, to regulate horse-drawn carriages that operate for hire or reward.  These bye-laws allow relevant local authorities to set their own rules and stipulations to govern such operations.

In 2018 DCC became aware that - specifically in relation to Dublin - this legal basis for making such bye-laws could be uncertain, as the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853-55 had vested the power to regulate horse-drawn carriages in Dublin with the Dublin Metropolitan Police Commissioners, to whom An Garda Síochána is the successor.

My Department examined this issue and, following legal advice, is now of the view that the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853-55 remain in force and preclude DCC from enacting the relevant bye-laws.  Also, it seems that a simple repeal of the Victorian legislation alone may not be sufficient to enable DCC to enact bye-laws for horse-drawn carriages.  Therefore, my Department is now working with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to identify how best to empower DCC to regulate this area.

Animal Welfare issues are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Food. However, I note that the Control of Horses Act 1996 allows local authorities to introduce bye-laws designating certain areas as control areas for horses. Dublin City Council has designated its administrative boundaries as such a control area under its Control of Horses Bye-Laws 2014. These bye-laws require horses to be licensed and set minimum standards for the keeping of horses within the control area.  

Regulations for horse-drawn carriages for hire or reward should be aligned with any horse welfare obligations imposed by local authorities. Accordingly, I am of the view that horse-drawn carriages for hire and reward should be regulated by local authorities and not the National Transport Authority, which has neither competency for nor experience of animal welfare issues.  My Department’s efforts are therefore centred on enabling Dublin City Council to regulate this area in Dublin just as other local authorities regulate this area elsewhere in the country.

Rural Transport Services Provision

Ceisteanna (522)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

522. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the evaluation of the provision of a LocalLink service from Bailieborough, Virginia, Ballyjamesduff and Cavan towns; his plans to ensure such a service is implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39722/19]

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 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 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.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (523)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

523. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the preparations of his Department for Brexit; the steps he will take to prevent gridlock in the vicinity of key ports and airports here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39760/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Government has extensive preparations in place for a possible no-deal Brexit on 31 October 2019. In its Action Plan published in July 2019, the Government acknowledged that a no deal Brexit will be highly disruptive and will have profound implications across all aspects of society. It will be impossible for the UK to maintain the current seamless arrangements with the EU across the full range of sectors including transport connectivity, trade flows and supply chains.

The contingency plans in place, including in the transport sector, will mitigate but cannot eliminate the impacts of a no-deal Brexit.

The re-introduction of customs or border controls as a consequence of Brexit will undoubtedly increase transit times for all traffic travelling via or from the UK to Continental Europe, including for many Irish importers and exporters. The three locations for which Ireland is heavily dependent on connectivity to the UK are Dublin Port, Dublin Airport and Rosslare Europort.

The Office of Public Works has worked across Government with relevant agencies and Departments in delivering the required facilities for these agriculture, health and customs checks at these locations. Temporary facilities are now in place to meet the needs of these agencies.   Additional staffing in Customs, Agriculture and Health have been recruited and trained to provide the necessary support and to manage the efficient movement of freight and people through these locations.  

The necessary associated staffing and IT systems are also in place. I understand that testing of the relevant IT systems is continuing. Communications with stakeholders is ongoing and will continue during October 2019.

Notwithstanding the contingency actions underway in Dublin Port, a no-deal Brexit will undoubtedly increase the risk of congestion within the port and a knock-on impact on wider traffic within Dublin City. My Department is working closely with Dublin Port Company, OPW, Revenue Commissioners, Dublin City Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and An Garda Siochana to have appropriate traffic management plans in place in the event that there is significant congestion in Dublin Port that impacts on wider traffic flows in the surrounding road network.

Tourism Funding

Ceisteanna (524)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

524. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has allocated specific funding or resources to attracting tourists from the Chinese market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39776/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Under the Government's Global Ireland Strategy, we are committed to developing tourism from new and emerging tourism markets with potential for Ireland. This year, Tourism Ireland has commenced the implementation of a strategy for growth in these markets. In Budget 2019, I provided almost €4 million in additional funding to Tourism Ireland for this purpose. China, as the largest source of outbound tourism in the world, is one of the main emerging markets we are targeting. 

While the resources allocated to any particular market is an operational matter for Tourism Ireland, I am aware that the additional funding I provided has allowed the agency to substantially increase its activity in the Chinese market this year. It has doubled its investment to €1 million and increased its on the ground marketing team to 12, including a presence in Hong Kong. It has also increased its publicity, digital and social media activity in the market and continues to interact with the travel trade in the market.

In order to make the most of the potential from a market such as China, it is important that the industry here is sufficiently prepared in order to be able to offer visitors a quality experience which meets their requirements. To this end, Fáilte Ireland is working with Irish tourism businesses across the country to help them capitalise on this potential by training them in how to meet the specific needs of the Chinese visitor. Its Get China Ready programme was developed in partnership with Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland and is jointly delivered with the support of the Centre for Competitiveness, which is the licensed provider of China Outbound Tourism Research Institute programmes in Ireland.

With the support of Government, the work being done by the tourism agencies both in China and here in Ireland, together with the industry, leaves us well placed to attract increased tourism from China in the coming years.