Question No. 236 answered with Question No. 226.

Regional Airports

Ceisteanna (237)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

237. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport the measures being considered to ensure that regional airports such as Cork Airport will retain their capital funding programmes to ensure upkeep and maintenance for facilities such as runway improvements. [26815/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I would like to thank the Deputy for his question in relation to regional airports and Cork Airport.

All regional airports, including Cork as an autonomous business unit within daa, are already benefitting from an extensive range of Covid-related Government measures. These include wage subsidy schemes, grants, low-cost loans, waiver of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities. Up to the end of August, the airports of Cork, Donegal, Ireland West, Kerry and Shannon Group (including Shannon Airport) had collectively received, or were in the process of applying for horizontal supports to a value of approx €6.5 million.

Government is also providing the smaller of these airports, those that typically handle less than 1 million passengers, €6m in Exchequer grants this year under Current and Capital Schemes under the existing Regional Airports Programme.

In addition to the grant aid, regional connectivity continues to be subsidised through Government funded PSO air services between Dublin and the airports of Donegal and Kerry. Over €7m is being provided to support this service in 2020.

A new Regional Airports Programme for a five year period starting in 2021 is currently being finalised. This will help eligible airports remain viable as they begin to plan for recovery and transition away from the devastation of Covid.

In addition to the above, an Exchequer contribution of €6.1million for a Hold Baggage Screening project at Shannon Airport was approved in June this year. This project was suspended because of Covid and Government intervened to ensure Shannon Airport's capacity to remain compliant with related EU regulations.

In relation to any future support mechanisms for the aviation sector, my Department will continue to work closely with aviation stakeholders and continue to review options in the context of the Government’s plans for international travel, having regard to the recommendations of the Aviation Taskforce.

I cannot give specific commitments at this time because any further supports that may be considered will be part of the ongoing Budget deliberations, and there are many competing demands on the public purse. However, I can assure the Deputy that the importance of these airports to the regions is well understood by Government.

Bus Éireann

Ceisteanna (238)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

238. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Transport if he has spoken formally with the CEO of Bus Éireann since his appointment; and if so, the issues discussed. [26846/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Since my appointment as Minister for Transport, I have had one meeting with the Chairman and CEO of Bus Éireann with regard to Expressway. My Department is in regular contact with both the Chair and CEO of Bus Éireann and have kept me informed on key issues related to the company since my appointment.

Bus Éireann

Ceisteanna (239)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

239. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport if Bus Éireann plans to extend bus services to include later departures for the Galway to Donegal route to accommodate third-level students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26910/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is an operational matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with Bus Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.

Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (240, 241)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

240. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport his plans for an exchange programme for holders of TM CPC UK certificates to EU Irish certificates following Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26911/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

241. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport if a full and final decision has been made in relation to exchanging international haulage certificates CPC following Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26912/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 241 together.

In order to engage in the occupation of road transport operator, an EU undertaking must have the requisite professional competence in accordance with EU Regulation 1071/2009. According to Articles 3(1)(d), 4(1) and 8 of Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009, natural persons engaged in the occupation of road transport operator in the EU and transport managers employed by an undertaking engaged in the occupation of road transport operator have to hold a certificate of professional competence ("CPC") issued by the authorities of an EU Member State, or by bodies duly authorised by an EU Member State, for that purpose.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) is the body authorised to organise and certify the examination for Transport Manager CPCs in Ireland.

The European Commission in its Brexit stakeholder notices published in January 2018 outlined that at the end of the transition period, if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, Transport Manager CPCs issued by an authority of the UK or a body authorised by the UK will no longer be valid in EU Member States.

In the absence of an EU-UK agreement, the options for Irish road transport operators employing someone with a UK-issued transport manager CPC resident in Ireland are therefore as follows:

In accordance with Article 13 of Regulation (EC) 1071/2009, a road transport operator is permitted a period of up to a maximum of six months in which to ensure that the professional competence requirement for their operator licence is once again satisfied.

This means that in the event of no EU-UK agreement having been concluded by end year, within six months from the end of the transition period, operators affected must either:

1. Ensure that a Transport Management CPC issued by an EU Member State is obtained by the existing Transport Manager who is resident in the EU. A Transport Manager holding a UK-issued CPC may apply to obtain an Irish Transport Management CPC – this requires passing the Transport Management CPC examination administered by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) - the requirement of 100 hours tuition in advance of the exam, which is normally mandatory, will be waived and candidates can apply to CILT to sit the examination directly) OR

2. Appoint a new Transport Manager who holds a Transport Management CPC issued by an EU Member State.

It is understood that approximately 200 of our licenced Road Transport Operators engage a UK CPC qualified Transport Manager.

My Department has already written to the affected road transport operators pointing out these circumstances in the event that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.

With regard to driver CPCs, drivers working for an EU haulage or bus transport operator are required to hold a driver CPC. The CPC certifies the qualifications and periodic training of drivers. As set out in the European Commission notice to stakeholders in 2018, as of the withdrawal date, driver CPCs issued by the UK or by an approved training centre in the UK will no longer be valid in the EU-27. A driver with a UK-issued driver CPC who is resident in Ireland or working for an Irish operator may exchange the UK CPC for an Irish CPC, in advance of 31 December 2020.

Regional Airports

Ceisteanna (242)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

242. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport his plans to provide a stimulus package for Shannon Airport; when such support will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26954/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I would like to thank the Deputy for his question in relation to Shannon Airport.

In order to assist businesses in facing the challenges of Covid-19 and further protect employment, the Government has already put in place a comprehensive suite of supports for companies of all sizes, including those in the aviation sector, which includes the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) (and its predecessor the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme), extended until April 2021, commercial rates waiver and deferred tax liabilities. As the Deputy is aware, Shannon Airport is part of Shannon Group and Shannon Group is availing of these supports which are designed to assist businesses, including our airports in terms of the management of their companies during this unprecedented time. Government has already also provided emergency funding of €6.1m to Shannon Airport to complete a vital Hold Baggage Screening project - a safety and security requirement under EU Regulations.

The Aviation Recovery Taskforce set out recommendations for consideration by Ministers and Government on what needs to be done to assist the Irish aviation sector to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The taskforce report contains a number of recommendations on how to support Irish aviation, which has been badly affected by the almost complete shutdown of international air travel. The recommendations include measures to sustain the industry for so long as travel restrictions are in place and also measures to help stimulate a return to growth, when the time is right. The Government has already implemented several recommendations, including the extension of the wages subsidy scheme and publication of safe air travel protocols. We have also progressed a European slot rule waiver for airlines in consultation with the European Commission.

In relation to any future support mechanisms for the aviation sector, my Department will continue to work closely with aviation stakeholders and continue to review options in the context of the Government’s plans for international travel, having regard to the recommendations of the Aviation Taskforce.

I cannot give specific commitments at this time because any further supports that may be considered will be part of the ongoing Budget deliberations, and there are many competing demands on the public purse. However, I can assure the Deputy that the importance of these airports to the regions is well understood by Government.

The Government’s recently published Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19 specifically addresses the approach to international travel and proposes that Ireland will broadly support the European Commission’s recently published proposal to promote a common approach to travel restrictions and movement within the EU/EEA. This proposal will now be considered by the Council of Ministers.

The Deputy will also be aware that I have committed to undertaking an examination of the future viability and sustainability of Shannon Group, and I will consider restructuring measures, financial supports and any other measures that may be necessary and appropriate as part of this wider review of Shannon Group. I will bring recommendations to Government in this regard shortly.

It is my intention that the Company, including Shannon Airport, will be well positioned for the future particularly given the importance of Shannon Airport to the economy of the Midwest region and indeed nationally.

Road Projects

Ceisteanna (243)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

243. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide an update on phase 1 of the Limerick northern distributor road; his plans to advance phase 2 of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26957/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of each road authority 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.

Project Ireland 2040 identifies a programme of regional and local road improvement projects to be progressed with grant support and the Coonagh to Knockalisheen Distributor Road is one of those projects. Implementation of the programme of projects is on a phased basis and progression of each project is subject to the profile of annual capital allocations available to the Department.

Implementation of the Coonagh to Knockalisheen scheme is the responsibility of Limerick City and County Council. Grant funding of €5 million has been allocated to the Council for this project in 2020. This scheme is at tender evaluation stage in relation to the main construction contract.

My Department has provided some funding to Clare County Council in relation to the proposed Limerick Northern Distributor Road, with a view to bringing the project through the route selection stage and allow the local authority the possibility of preserving a route corridor to facilitate the possible future development of the road. More recently, my Department is also facilitating further appraisal work on the scheme.

Under the National Development Plan there is, however, no Exchequer regional and local road grant funding in place at present to progress this scheme through the planning process to construction stage.

Harbours and Piers

Ceisteanna (244)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

244. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 229 of 15 September 2020, if the seaport figure include small harbours and ports; the measures in place at these points of entry or egress to monitor international travel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26978/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The seaport figures provided in the response to Parliamentary Question No. 229 of 15 September 2020 do not include the smaller ports or harbours. This is because international passenger ferry services only operate in and out of the ports of Dublin, Cork and Rosslare.

The National Public Health Emergency Team, in light of COVID 19, at their meeting on March 24th, agreed that no cruise ship will be permitted to enter any Irish port or anchor in Irish waters for the foreseeable future. Therefore cruise vessels carrying international passengers that might visit smaller ports and harbours are not currently operating into any port or harbour in Ireland.

Motor Insurance

Ceisteanna (245)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

245. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 77 of 17 September 2020, if he will provide an update on the number of points the MTPL Insurance Database Project Board aim to deliver (details supplied) and timelines for implementation. [26988/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Motor Third Party Liability (MTPL) database is a project which has been underway for some time, and aims to provide a comprehensive database of motor insurance policies in the State, which will be accessible to Gardaí for enforcement purposes.

This project, like so much else, has suffered from delays due to the Covid outbreak. However, I understand that the first phase, which address approximately 92% of the policies in the country, has been completed. Work is underway on phases 2 and 3.

The completion of the project will be dependent on legislative amendments which I propose to introduce as part of the forthcoming Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. While I am sure that the Deputy will appreciate that I cannot give a precise timeline for passage of the legislation, and as a result for the full implementation of the MTPL database, I am happy to point out that the Bill has been included on the Government's list for priority legislation.

Road Projects

Ceisteanna (246)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

246. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport the status of the new N22 Baile Bhu; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27036/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), 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 is also subject to the Public Spending Code Guidelines and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context, TII is best placed to advise you on the status of this project.

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

Ministerial Advisers

Ceisteanna (247)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

247. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport if a schedule of advisers and special advisers appointed and or recruited by him since his appointment will be provided; the roles and responsibilities attributed to each; and the salary for each appointee in tabular form. [27062/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The appointment to my Department of two Special Advisers to Minister of State Naughton was approved by Government on 15 September, 2020.

These appointments are in the process of being formalised with the issuing of Contracts of Employment to the appointees. In line with the Instructions to Personnel Officer - Ministerial Appointments to the 33rd Dáil, recently published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), the Contracts of Employment will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and forwarded to DPER. The details in relation to the appointment of the Special Advisers will then be published by DPER on the gov.ie website. I understand this process will be completed in the coming weeks.

Road Projects

Ceisteanna (248)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

248. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport if the viability of the realignment of a road (details supplied) in County Kerry will be considered to create safer walking and cycling space; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27071/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of each road authority 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. Consideration of a re-alignment of this road along the lines suggested is, therefore, a matter for Kerry County Council.

It should be noted that as part of the Government's July Stimulus measures the Department recently allocated over €1.9 million to Kerry County Council for Active Travel projects to facilitate walking and cycling.

Cycling Facilities

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 231.

Ceisteanna (249)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

249. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport if the provision of a safe cycling lane will be considered for a road (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27072/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the operation and upgrading of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. This is also subject to the Public Spending Code Guidelines and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context, TII is best placed to advise you on the status of this project.

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

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 231.

Rail Network

Ceisteanna (251)

Darren O'Rourke

Ceist:

251. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport the estimated cost of the introduction an hourly train between Galway and Dublin in both directions. [27142/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA), in conjunction with Iarnród Éireann, and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.

Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Cycling Facilities

Ceisteanna (252)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

252. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport the amount of funding drawn down by each local authority for safe cycling signage since July 2020, in tabular form. [27192/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by Exchequer road grants, where applicable. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Provision was made this year in the regional and local road grant allocations for expenditure on the deployment of the cycling “safe passing” signs this year. Funding has been allocated to 20 local authorities for the roll out of the “safe passing” signs this year.

In relation to the draw down of funding for the signs one local authority, Mayo County Council, has drawn down €11,640 to date.

Driver Test

Ceisteanna (253)

Martin Browne

Ceist:

253. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Transport his views on the way in which the backlog in driver tests is affecting third-level students that opt to travel to college on the days they are required on campus; the number of additional staff that have been recruited to deal with the backlog; if the staff members have reduced the backlog; his plans to increase the number of additional driver testers; and his views on the need of third-level students to sit their driver tests as quickly as possible. [27240/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As you can appreciate Covid 19 has had a profound effect on the delivery the Driver Test service. I acknowledge that third- level students are one of many cohorts across all areas of society who have being impacted by the increased demand since services resumed.

The Driver Test service has seen its weekly capacity reduced significantly in order to comply with occupational and public health requirements. As an example, due to the additional hygiene and sanitation procedures that are now absolutely necessary, each testing slot now takes a much longer time to complete. In addition to this, the number of testers working in any centre at the one time has to be reduced to ensure physical distance rules can be maintained.

Those who had appointments cancelled due to Covid 19 are being prioritised in the first instance. Initially, only those who are front line healthcare workers will be deemed eligible for an urgent test slot. This approach for prioritising customers will be kept under review as the RSA moves through the service resumption.

My Department is remaining in close contact with the RSA who are examining ways of increasing the number of tests within the current health constraints. One option is the employment of additional testers, something which has been done in the past to address backlogs. However, I would like to stress, many of the issues impacting on the delivery of service are concerned with the throughput of centres themselves in light of the restrictions, rather than on the availability of staff.

In the meantime, my Department has give approval to the RSA to retain 18 driver testers on temporary contracts due to expire in October and November, and to rehire up to 19 testers whose contracts expired in May.

While I regret the inconvenience caused by the necessity to adhere to the restrictions imposed on us by NPHET and other experts, the safety of the public, whether through contracting Covid or through deaths or injuries on our roads, must be of paramount importance.

Traffic Data

Ceisteanna (254)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

254. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which traffic congestion points have been identified throughout north County Kildare with particular reference to Maynooth, Leixlip, Celbridge and Kilcock; the measures proposed to eliminate any such bottlenecks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27269/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the operation and management of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. This is also subject to the Public Spending Code Guidelines and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context, TII is best placed to advise you on any proposed road-based measures to deal with traffic congestion throughout north Co. Kildare.

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

With regard to Public Transport, continued investment in public transport and active travel measures will help to ease traffic congestion. The DART+ Programme is a transformative programme of projects which aims to modernise and improve existing rail services in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). It will provide frequent, modern, electrified services to Hazelhatch-Celbridge on the Kildare Line, Maynooth and M3 Parkway on the Maynooth/Sligo Line. In this regard, the Deputy may be interested to note the recently launched and ongoing Public Consultation process in regard to the DART+ Maynooth line, the duration of which has been extended to 7 October.

Separately the Deputy may be aware of Government's approval last year of the proposed purchase of 41 additional carriages to the InterCity Railcar fleet, which will increase capacity across intercity services on both the Maynooth and Kildare Lines.

In May of this year the National Transport Authority (NTA) wrote to all 31 local authorities to offer its financial and technical support for COVID mobility measures and this support is being funded through my Department's sustainable mobility investment programme. The approach taken was to engage with all local authorities to see what their requirements were and to grant-aid in full, various temporary intervention proposals, subject to those proposals being agreed with the NTA in advance of implementation.

In addition, under the July Stimulus an additional funding was announced to support pedestrians and cyclists in urban and rural Ireland in the coming months. The Stimulus programme aims to further support local authorities across the country as they respond to the needs of local communities and businesses in the months ahead. Funding under the Stimulus programme must be expended by year end. I can advise that Kildare County Council were allocated €1.8m in funding under this programme.

Outside of these funding streams, funding has also been provided under my Departments sustainable mobility investment programme to Kildare County Council through the NTA for a number cycling and walking infrastructural projects. Current cycling and walking projects in the area that the Deputy refers to include Royal Canal Greenway (Maynooth to Fingal), North South Corridor Scheme - Maynooth (inc Footbridge) and Celbridge Bridge. Also in Kildare County, the GDA cycle network in Naas, Kill and Kilcullen and a bus priority scheme in Naas and Newbridge.