Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (184)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

184. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of farm payments for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46724/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applicaiton on 3 May 2019 in which he declared a share on two commonages in County Kerry. 

An over claim has occurred on one of the commonages which my Department is currently reviewing.

The person named has been requested to submit evidence of his entitlement to claim on this commonage and once this information is received, my Department will further process his application.

Irish National Stud

Ceisteanna (185)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

185. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of his most recent meetings with the CEO and-or chairperson of the Irish National Stud; the issues discussed; if further meetings are planned in the coming months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46741/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Irish National Stud Company is a commercial State Body.

I last met the Chair of the Irish National Stud, on Tuesday 11th April 2017. The items discussed during the meeting included an update on the financial performance of the stud, the establishment of a new visitor experience and the setting up of a subsidiary company.

I also met both the Chair and the CEO of the Irish National Stud at a number of industry events, including the Equine Summits held November 2017 and in April 2018.

My officials are in regular contact with officials at the Irish National Stud. The Secretary General of the Department met the Chair in May 2019 and regular governance meetings are held at official level throughout the year. 

Crop Losses

Ceisteanna (186)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

186. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider reintroducing the weather related crop loss support measure scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46763/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As the Deputy will be aware, extreme weather conditions in September 2016 adversely impacted the harvesting of tillage crops. I launched the Weather Related Crop Damage Measure to provide financial assistance to farmers in approved cases as a contribution towards the direct losses arising from damage to spring barley, spring wheat, spring oats and spring oilseed rape. 

Support was only payable in cases where the loss in crop yield to the applicant exceeded 30% as determined by off-farm sales and showing that the loss had been caused solely by the wet weather in September 2016.

Weather conditions in 2019 were generally such that the harvest of those crops covered by the scheme was completed satisfactorily. I have therefore no plans to re-introduce the Weather Related Crop Damage Measure this year.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (187)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

187. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when BPS and ANC payments will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46793/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted an application for the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme on 14 May 2019.

In relation to the BPS application, my Department has no record of the person named holding any BPS entitlements which could form the basis for payment under the 2019 BPS. 

In relation to the ANC application, the agricultural advisor of the person named submitted details in relation to the stocking requirements under the Scheme.  My Department has responded to seek clarification on a discrepancy in this data and a reply is awaited.  An official from my Department will make contact with the advisor in question to assist in obtaining the clarification required.

Fishing Industry Data

Ceisteanna (188)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

188. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of sprat fishery landed by Irish boats at ports here in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to 31 October 2019, in tabular form; the percentage processed for human consumption versus those processed for fishmeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46835/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The data requested is held by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and I have referred the Deputy's request to the SFPA for attention and direct reply.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (189)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

189. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if grants are available to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46838/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Projects of this nature referred to by the Deputy may be eligible for support under the LEADER 2014-2020 Programme which is administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development on behalf of my Department. In order for a project to be eligible for LEADER funding, it must be compatible with the actions outlined in the approved Local Development Strategy for the relevant LEADER sub regional area, and it must comply with the Operating Rules and EU Regulations in place for the programme.

The decision to approve a project, or otherwise, is a matter for the Local Action Group (LAG) which administers the programme in each LEADER Sub-regional area. Interested applicants should, in the first instance, contact the relevant LAG through its Implementing Partner to discuss the funding that may be available.

The Implementing Partner for the area of Kerry referred to by the Deputy is IRD Duhallow CLG, James O’Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co. Cork.

Contact details for IRD Duhallow CLG are as follows:

- Telephone: (029) 60633

- E-mail: duhallow@irdduhallow.com.

Fodder Crisis

Ceisteanna (190)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

190. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether there is sufficient fodder available for winter 2019-2020 in the event of a cold snap; if an analysis has been carried out on fodder stocks for winter 2019-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46866/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In 2018, a late spring and prolonged period of dry weather during the summer resulted in a difficult grass growing season in that year with subsequent reduction in fodder conservation. For 2019, Teagasc data, using its grass growth monitoring service, 'PastureBase Ireland', has shown that grass growth throughout 2019 generally returned to normal levels. These favourable growing conditions allowed for ample quantities of fodder to be conserved. This is supported by the fact that fodder prices throughout 2019 were significantly depressed on 2018 prices indicating adequate supplies.

Whilst it is not possible to predict the duration or severity of the coming winter and its resultant impact on fodder availability, I am satisfied that there are currently sufficient stocks of fodder available. I can assure the Deputy that I, together with my officials, will continue to engage with stakeholders and closely monitor the situation over the course of the next few months.

Bord na gCon Staff

Ceisteanna (191)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

191. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of employees as of November 2019 that are employed by the Irish Greyhound Board; the breakdown of roles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46872/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. 

Please see below the requested details as supplied to me by Bord na gCon.

Bord na gCon Group total:

Full-time employees: 131

Part-time/Casual employees: 699

Total employees: 830

The roles are broken down as follows:

Bord na gCon Employees

Limerick Head Office: 36

Breakdown of roles:

No.

4

IT

9

Finance

5

Regulation

4

Laboratory

5

Sales and Marketing

3

Welfare

5

General Administration

1

Health and Safety

Sales Centre (Thurles): 7

Stewards: 14

Track Located: 48 full-time and 109 part-time/Casual

Total: 214

Events & Hospitality Services (Catering Division) employees

Full-time: 22

Part-time/Casual: 329

Total: 351

Tote – Betting Division

Full-time: 4

Part-time/Casual: 261

Total: 265

Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

Ceisteanna (192)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

192. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if delays in finalising the EU budget will impact on the CAP budget; if so, the effects on schemes supported through CAP funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46902/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The European Commission recently presented two proposals to provide for transitional regulations to bridge the period between the current CAP programming period (2014-2020) and the CAP post-2020 (2021-2027). Transitional measures such as this are normal between programming periods where a gap arises due to the challenging nature of finalising the new EU Budget and CAP regulations, which require unanimous agreement.  

The proposals provide for a one-year transition period in 2021.  Funding arrangements for transition are based on the Commission’s proposals for the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework. My officials are currently examining the proposals, which will be discussed in Brussels in the coming months and are to be agreed with the European Parliament. 

It is important to note that the existing rules and financial arrangements for CAP, including the EU Budget allocations for the period 2014-2020, will apply for 2020, as set out in the relevant CAP regulations for both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2.

My key priority remains to continue to press for agreement on the CAP reform proposals and on the maintenance of the CAP budget as part of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework.

Since the launch of the proposals on the Multiannual Financial Framework, I have worked closely with other Agriculture Ministers to seek to maintain the level of CAP funding for the EU 27 and to reverse the cuts. From the start of this process, I joined with my colleagues in Madrid in May 2018 and together with France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Finland signed a Memorandum to call for the maintenance of the CAP budget. 

Work on this initiative has continued and, most recently, at the October Agrifish Council, I again joined with my colleagues across Europe when 17 Member States joined a declaration seeking to maintain CAP funding in the period post-2020.  I will continue to work with my European counterparts to fight for a strong CAP budget, and to ensure the best possible outcome for Irish farmers from the CAP post-2020 negotiation process.

Waste Management

Ceisteanna (193)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

193. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to support various community initiatives around the country to roll out reverse vending machines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46716/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Government is determined to reduce the excessive use of plastics. As a first step, the purchase of single use plastics has been banned throughout the public service. We are determined to increase recycling of plastics from 37% now to 55% in the coming years and, along with other EU member states, to phase out non-recyclable plastics entirely. A Deposit and Return Scheme is one option proposed for EU member states to consider as a means of increasing the collection of plastic beverage containers and achieve the new 90% target for this waste stream identified in the Single Use Plastic Directive.

A number of grass roots community initiatives are emerging across the country which support responsible waste management, which I welcome. However, the introduction of a new national initiative such as a Deposit and Return Scheme needs to be fully understood and the costs and impacts identified to make evidence-based decision making. In January this year I announced a national study which will consider how we can deliver a 90% collection target for single use beverage containers, including plastic bottles in Ireland. This study will also examine the possibility of introducing a Deposit and Return Scheme and how this might operate in an Irish context. This study will be completed in the coming weeks.

Electricity Grid

Ceisteanna (194)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

194. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the export of surplus power to the national grid by members of the farming community in view of the number of farmers that are now developing on-farm solar PV for their farm enterprises under the TAMS 2 scheme which is operated by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine and that may have surplus power which can be exported to the national grid. [46727/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Climate Action Plan sets out the comprehensive list of actions that will ensure we meet our 2030 climate commitments putting us on a trajectory to be net zero by 2050. One of the Plan deliverables will be the development of a support policy for micro-generation, which will provide a pathway to the public to participate in and benefit from this transition. Action 30 of the Plan sets out the steps necessary and timelines for the delivery of an enabling framework for micro-generation by June 2021. A Microgeneration working group has been established with the participation of the Department of Agriculture and consideration of the work programme is underway. The Group will assess possible mechanisms for payment of exported electricity by renewable self-consumers for each market segment including agriculture.

In July 2018 my Department launched a new micro-generation grant scheme to support domestic customers who install solar photovoltaic panels in their homes. The pilot scheme, which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, was subject to a review in recent months. The SEAI indicate that of the 2,500 applications made to date, over 1,400 successful installations have been completed to a value in excess of €3 million in funding. Additionally, 28 farms have applied for support from the TAMS scheme for Solar PV installations.

The Smart Meter Upgrade is a meter replacement programme which will result in the upgrade of over 2 million meters to modern, smart-ready technology. When the programme completes in Ireland in 2024, all domestic and business premises will have a new modern meter installed. The upgrade to smart meters will encourage energy efficiency, support an increase in renewable power on the energy system, and result in lower overall costs for consumers. The installation of smart meters is a key enabler for the energy transition to a decarbonised system and will support the market for micro-generation as outlined in the Government's Climate Action Plan.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (195)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

195. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason a property at Hopestown, Ballinea, Mullingar, County Westmeath cannot connect to efibre broadband (details supplied). [46754/19]

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.

The State intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network.

Since the Government decision in May 2019 to appoint NBI as the Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan contract, work has continued on the due diligence necessary to conclude the contract. This process is progressing towards contract award, which is expected before the end of the year. The network deployment will commence shortly after that.

The Bidder has indicated that the network rollout will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment. A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed.

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.

The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

My Department has recently undertaken a mapping consultation to ensure that the State Intervention Area is up to date and reflects operators’ plans and the responses from householders and businesses with the outcome of this consultation informing the State Aid notification to the European Commission in relation to the NBP.

In parallel to the work of finalising the contract, I am considering the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Communications Committee report, which was published recently. I will bring my deliberations of the report to Government in due course.

With regard to the eir fibre rollout close to this premises, eir’s rural deployment of high speed broadband is a commercial undertaking and is not part of the planned State Intervention network.

It is not funded by the State and is not planned, designed or directed by my Department in any capacity. The decision as to what areas and premises are served was made by eir internally and on a commercial basis. My Department has no statutory authority to intervene in that process.

Biofuel Obligation Scheme

Ceisteanna (196)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

196. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a 10% biofuel obligation on the heat sector will be introduced as part of the commitment by Ireland to reduce carbon emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46764/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Biofuels Obligation Scheme, administered by the National Oil Reserves Agency, is the principal support for the uptake of biofuels in Ireland. The scheme was introduced in 2010 and requires suppliers of liquid road transport fuel to ensure that biofuels make up a certain percentage of annual fuel sales in the road transport sector.

Two public consultations have recently commenced which include consideration of a potential renewable energy obligation in the heat sector similar to what is in place in the road transport sector. These consultations are available to view at the following links:

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/energy/consultations/Pages/Public-Consultation-on-Biofuels-Obligation-Scheme.aspx https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/energy/consultations/Pages/Public-Consultation-on-the-Implementation-of-the-Clean-Energy-Package.aspx

The responses received to these consultations will help inform my Department's considerations of the potential for an obligation scheme to be introduced in the heat sector in Ireland.

Broadcasting Service Provision

Ceisteanna (197)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

197. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason Lyric FM is being moved from Limerick; his views on whether it is run in a less cost effective manner than the stations broadcast by RTÉ in Dublin; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this is a blow to the arts and media in Limerick and a lack of commitment by him and RTÉ to Limerick and the regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46768/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Section 98 of the Broadcasting Act provides that RTÉ shall be independent in the pursuit of its objects. As such, I, as Minister, have no function in RTÉ's management of their day to day affairs, including the location of broadcast studios and services. My role under section 103 of the Act relates to a situation where a public service broadcasting corporation wishes to increase or vary the number of television or sound broadcasting channels it operates. This is not the case in relation to Lyric FM.

RTÉ has indicated that it will continue to provide a mid-West news service in Limerick and that it is committed to discussing the impact of any changes with those directly affected, via their unions.

The organisation recognises, however, that it must be financially viable while also developing a strategy that repositions RTÉ to take up opportunities in a rapidly changing broadcasting environment.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (198)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

198. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the supports, funding schemes and grants which are available to non-governmental environmental and conservation organisations; the updates to same made in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46770/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

There are a number of supports, funding schemes and grants administered directly by my Department which funding can be applied for by non-governmental environmental and conservation organisations. I have set out in tabular format the relevant details.

Details of supports, funding schemes and grants

Updates made in Budget 2020

EV Purchase Grant Scheme - purchase grant of up to €5,000 for new electric vehicles.

€30m has been allocated to this scheme in Budget 2020.

The grant of up to €3,800 for businesses purchasing an electric car and the grant for private purchases of vans was discontinued.

Home Charger Grant Scheme - grant of up to €600 towards the cost of the installation of a domestic charge point for purchasers of new and second-hand electric vehicles.

Provided with €0.5m additional funding which will support its expansion to include the installation of charge points in apartment blocks from the first quarter of 2020. Funding for 2020 is now €4m.

Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH)

Phase 1 - Introduced in 2018 - Grant aid of up to of 30% of the installation cost of eligible heat pump technologies.

Phase 2 - Introduced June 2019 - Operational support for eligible biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems via a multi-annual payment, for a period of up to 15 years, on the basis of prescribed tariffs.

€5 million total funding has been allocated as part of budget 2020.

In addition to the An Taisce Green Schools programme the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment also supports An Taisce Environmental Education Unit (Green Schools) in the roll out of its National Climate Change Action and Awareness Programme (NCCAAP) in schools and third level institutes. The aim of this programme is to increase awareness of climate change and promote climate actions nationally. This programme includes:

- Teacher training - online and face-to-face training

- Secondary school resources packs (Published in March 2019)

- Primary school resources packs (under development)

- Green schools Climate Action Week (Annually in October)

- Climate Ambassador champions in schools, campuses and the community who will work as ambassadors’ for climate change to increase awareness of the causes and outcomes of climate change and undertake actions in their schools, campus or community more resilient to climate change by improving their local environment. Over 200 Ambassadors have been trained since 2018.

€263,000 was allocated under the Vote for 2019. Discussions are under way on the development of the 2020 programme, funding will be allocated based on the outputs decided.

Geological Survey Ireland Research Programme

None (no change since 2019)

Geoheritage grant scheme

€65k (same as 2019)

Geoparks

€75k (new for 2020)

In addition to these my Department funds the Better Energy Communities and Sustainable Energy Communities schemes which are administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). These schemes can support the types of organisations referred to by the Deputy as part of wider community energy efficiency projects. Budget 2020 did not announce any updates to these schemes.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (199)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

199. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will ensure that the office of the just transition commissioner is based in County Offaly or the midlands region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46780/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Mr. Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as Ireland's first Just Transition Commissioner. The Commissioner will help ensure a co-ordinated and effective approach to a Just Transition for communities and workers affected by the imminent ending of peat harvesting for power generation in the Midlands region. The Terms of Reference for the Just Transition Commissioner set out that the secretariat support for the Commissioner will be provided by my Department or the Midlands Transition Team as appropriate. Further details are currently being finalised.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (200)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

200. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when high speed broadband will be made available in an area in which a business (details supplied) is in operation and recently had to close for the day owing to lack of broadband service. [46797/19]

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.

Since the Government decision in May 2019 to appoint NBI as the Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan contract, work has continued on the due diligence necessary to conclude the contract. This process is progressing towards contract award, which is expected before the end of the year. The network deployment will commence shortly after that.

The Bidder has indicated that the network rollout will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment. A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed.

The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed. 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.

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.

Work continues on finalising the contract and in parallel to this work, I am considering the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Communications Committee report which was published recently. I will bring my deliberations of the report to Government in due course.

European Globalisation Fund

Ceisteanna (201)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

201. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he or Bord na Móna plan to apply to the EU globalisation fund to aid in a just transition in Bord na Móna and elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46849/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Ireland's European Globalisation Adjustment Fund Managing Authority is within the Department of Education and Skills. All applications for support from the Fund must be submitted by this Managing Authority. Neither my Department nor Bord na Móna can apply directly to the Globalisation Fund.

My Department has secured support for the Midlands Region from other EU sources. Following proactive engagement by my Department and Bord na Móna the Midlands Region has been included in the Platform for Coal and Other Carbon-Intensive Regions in Transition. Membership of this Platform enables the Midlands Region to avail of the support of a dedicated Country Team, comprised of Commission experts, to assist with the development of strategies and projects for the region. My Department is engaging with the Commission in relation to the establishment of the dedicated Country Team for Ireland and it is expected that the team will visit the Midlands before the end of the year.

The Midlands Regional Transition Team, led by Offaly County Council, has already been successful in securing support from the Secretariat of the Platform. The START team (Secretariat's Technical Assistance to Regions in Transition) will visit the region in early December.

My Department is also engaging with the European Commission on the potential for an introduction of a Public Service Obligation (PSO) to fund an accelerated rehabilitation of the Bord na Móna bogs above and beyond the current, legal requirement on Bord na Móna.

Legislative Reviews

Ceisteanna (202)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

202. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to update the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46742/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department keeps the National Tourism Development Authority Act under review on an on-going basis and amends it where it is deemed appropriate or necessary, including as a result of tourism policy developments.  In this regard, I currently have no proposed amendments to the National Tourism Development Authority Act, which was most recently amended in 2016.

Departmental Data

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

Ceisteanna (203, 204, 205, 206, 207)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

203. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department has information sharing agreements with Irish Rail or other public transport providers. [46813/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

204. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department has information sharing agreements with the National Transport Authority or the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. [46814/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

205. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times his Department has shared personal identifying information with transport providers, including Irish Rail in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [46815/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

206. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the National Transport Authority has information sharing agreements with his Department or the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. [46817/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

207. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of times the NTA has shared personal identifying information with transport providers including Irish Rail or the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [46818/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 203 to 207, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Free Travel Scheme comes under the aegis of my colleague, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection. 

I can confirm that my Department does not share any personal identifying data with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, with the National Transport Authority (NTA) or with any transport providers as part of the operation of the Free Travel scheme.  Therefore, a need for information-sharing agreements between my Department and these parties on this matter does not arise.

I have referred to the NTA for direct reply, the part of the Deputy's question regarding any sharing of personal identifying information by the NTA with transport providers.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days .

In addition, I understand that the Minister of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will be responding to a similar question from the Deputy relating to arrangements that Department has with the NTA regarding the operation of the Free Travel scheme.

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