1. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the recent meeting of the British-Irish Council. (Question 47839/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, together.
On Brexit, I said that greater clarity and confidence regarding how a hard border is to be avoided was needed before we could say sufficient progress had been made to allow negotiations to move to phase 2. As I have said before, protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process is a priority, not just for Ireland but also for all remaining 27 member states. Given that the UK Gove...

2. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to Prime Minister Rajoy recently. (Question 48168/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, together.
On Brexit, I said that greater clarity and confidence regarding how a hard border is to be avoided was needed before we could say sufficient progress had been made to allow negotiations to move to phase 2. As I have said before, protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process is a priority, not just for Ireland but also for all remaining 27 member states. Given that the UK Gove...

3. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brokenshire’s comments on the possible reintroduction of direct rule in Northern Ireland. (Question 48974/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, together.
On Brexit, I said that greater clarity and confidence regarding how a hard border is to be avoided was needed before we could say sufficient progress had been made to allow negotiations to move to phase 2. As I have said before, protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process is a priority, not just for Ireland but also for all remaining 27 member states. Given that the UK Gove...

4. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he has had engagement with the Prime Minister of Spain, Mr. Mariano Rajoy, recently. (Question 49003/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, together.
On Brexit, I said that greater clarity and confidence regarding how a hard border is to be avoided was needed before we could say sufficient progress had been made to allow negotiations to move to phase 2. As I have said before, protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process is a priority, not just for Ireland but also for all remaining 27 member states. Given that the UK Gove...

5. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the latest British-Irish Council meeting. (Question 49072/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, together.
On Brexit, I said that greater clarity and confidence regarding how a hard border is to be avoided was needed before we could say sufficient progress had been made to allow negotiations to move to phase 2. As I have said before, protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process is a priority, not just for Ireland but also for all remaining 27 member states. Given that the UK Gove...

6. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the recent meeting of the British-Irish Council in Jersey. (Question 49109/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, together.
On Brexit, I said that greater clarity and confidence regarding how a hard border is to be avoided was needed before we could say sufficient progress had been made to allow negotiations to move to phase 2. As I have said before, protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process is a priority, not just for Ireland but also for all remaining 27 member states. Given that the UK Gove...

7. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his conversation with the British Prime Minister, Ms Theresa May, on 17 November 2017. (Question 49290/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, together.
On Brexit, I said that greater clarity and confidence regarding how a hard border is to be avoided was needed before we could say sufficient progress had been made to allow negotiations to move to phase 2. As I have said before, protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process is a priority, not just for Ireland but also for all remaining 27 member states. Given that the UK Gove...

8. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of staffing vacancies in his Department. (Question 47899/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Departmental Staff Recruitment)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 to 10, inclusive, together.
With the exception of politically appointed staff such as special advisers, all staff assignments, appointments and recruitment in my Department are the responsibility of the Secretary General and senior management of the Department. My Department uses workforce planning and succession planning to ensure there are sufficient staffing resources in place to deliver the Department’s strategic goals. The number of vacanc...

9. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the number of staff vacancies in his Department. (Question 49004/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Departmental Staff Recruitment)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 to 10, inclusive, together.
With the exception of politically appointed staff such as special advisers, all staff assignments, appointments and recruitment in my Department are the responsibility of the Secretary General and senior management of the Department. My Department uses workforce planning and succession planning to ensure there are sufficient staffing resources in place to deliver the Department’s strategic goals. The number of vacanc...

10. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of advertisements for staff recruitment his Department has. (Question 49417/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Departmental Staff Recruitment)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 to 10, inclusive, together.
With the exception of politically appointed staff such as special advisers, all staff assignments, appointments and recruitment in my Department are the responsibility of the Secretary General and senior management of the Department. My Department uses workforce planning and succession planning to ensure there are sufficient staffing resources in place to deliver the Department’s strategic goals. The number of vacanc...

28. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his key priorities for investment in transport and tourism infrastructure following the mid-term review of the capital investment plan. (Question 49603/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Capital Expenditure Programme)

Deputy Robert Troy: The Minister is aware that the new capital plan is scheduled to be published before the end of this year. A commitment was given by the previous Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, that the Minister would publish the Department’s submission to the capital plan. It is very important that we have a debate in the House on the priorities and where the money will be invested in infrastructure over the coming years. I hope the Minister will enlighten the House this morning on what are...

29. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on working towards a policy of full accessibility on public transport including private companies that provide public transport services; his plans to put such a policy on a statutory footing; if a policy of an increased number of unmanned train stations and DART stations is to be introduced; his further views on the introduction of a policy whereby disabled passengers are not required to make travel arrangements up to 24 hours in advance; the steps he will take to provide specific funding in the areas of train station accessibility, accessibility on trains including staffing and staff training to support disabled passengers, lifts and ramps on bus coaches in rural areas and infrastructure at bus stops and shelters to ensure that all passengers with a disability have full accessibility on public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49602/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Services for People with Disabilities)

Deputy Imelda Munster: Is the Minister in favour of on working towards a policy of full accessibility on public transport including private companies that provide public transport services? Will he consider putting such a policy on a statutory footing? Is a policy of an increased number of unmanned train stations and DART stations is to be introduced? Does he favour the introduction of a policy whereby disabled passengers are not required to make travel arrangements up to 24 hours in advance ...

30. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his Department’s role in the supervision and oversight of the search and rescue services; and if he is satisfied with the maps and navigational equipment that is provided to these services. (Question 49604/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Search and Rescue Service Provision)

Deputy Robert Troy: We had the devastating lost of the crew of Rescue 116 earlier this year and I am aware an investigation into that is currently ongoing. Therefore, it would be wholly inappropriate and insensitive of me to comment on that. Will the Minister indicate who has ultimate responsibility for the search and rescue helicopter service?
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31. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on whether the tendering process conducted by the National Transport Authority, NTA, for bus routes will help improve public transport and encourage persons to switch from private car transport; his further views on whether the tendering process will ensure there is not a race to the bottom in terms of workers pay and conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49564/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Public Transport)

Deputy Bríd Smith: I have asked the Minister about this issue before, but I am asking again given the recent results from the tender process in Waterford and the problems that have arisen in delivering a proper service in Bus Éireann since the strike ended.
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32. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the provision of a light rail system for Galway in view of climate change mitigation commitments; the key objectives of the national planning framework; the cost-benefit analysis undertaken in respect of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49466/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Transport Infrastructure Provision)

Deputy Catherine Connolly: I would like to take reassurance that not only has the Minister plans, but that he has seriously ambitious and imaginative plans in respect of public transport and to take cars off the road. In that context I ask the Minister about this matter.
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33. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the deficiencies in Ireland’s failed bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup which led to Ireland receiving eight votes during an organisation’s (details supplied) ballot; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49196/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Rugby World Cup 2023)

Deputy Shane Cassells: First, what was said in the Seanad last Thursday about the Irish bid was disgraceful and wrong. It was an insult and disrespectful to the efforts of Kevin Potts, Philip Orr, Dick Spring, Brian O’Driscoll, Philip Browne, Páraic Duffy, the Minister, Deputy Ross and others.
Rather than dismiss the decision last week by World Rugby as an opportunity lost, there is merit in discussing it given the Government spend of over €1 million of taxpayers’ money. At the end of the day,...

34. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to update the area-wide school travel plan for the Grace Park Road and Griffith Avenue area, in view of the fact there are 3,500 pupils attending 12 primary and post-primary schools in the area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49350/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Traffic Management)

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: My questions relates to the need for an updated area-wide school travel plan for the Grace Park Road and Griffith Avenue area in view of the large numbers of students attending the various schools there.
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35. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the BusConnects programme will provide its first low emission public bus; the fuel source of these vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49352/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Public Transport Initiatives)

Deputy Mick Wallace: I recently asked about the make-up of the bus fleet and what powers its engines. I got a reply saying the Minister was strongly committed to facilitating the uptake of low emission technologies in the public transport sector, that his Department has established a green public transport fund to support the uptake of low carbon technologies within the public transport sector and that the BusConnects programme will have the entire Dublin fleet converted to low emissions techno...

36. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the details of the works to be carried out on the N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom road in view of the fact that the expenditure allocations 2018 to 2020 document states that the land transport programme for 2018 will include planning, design, land acquisition and advance works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49439/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Road Projects Status)

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: Since 2013, when the compulsory purchase orders, CPOs, were confirmed for the N22 Macroom bypass, tendering for construction has been the next key milestone in that project. The process could take much of a year, including putting it out for tender and assessing the details afterwards. It does not need to be held up with any of the other processes, such as land purchase, archaeological issues or fencing. It can be done at the same time. Will the Minister release it ...

37. Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the role his Department will play in the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49288/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Services for People with Disabilities)

Deputy Shane Ross: The National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021, NDIS, was launched by my colleague, the Minister of State with special responsibility for disability, Deputy Finian McGrath, last July. This is a whole-of-Government approach aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities. The NDIS contains precise and measurable actions and timescales for delivery, including in the areas of transport and sport.
Monitoring of the implementation of the strategy is being overseen ...

38. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has contacted his British counterpart regarding the ownership of Rosslare Europort, County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48307/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Ports Facilities)

Deputy James Browne: Has the Minister contacted his British counterpart regarding the ownership of Rosslare Europort; and will he make a statement on the matter?
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39. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress of general safety works and the tender documentation for the consultancy service for the proposed overbridge on the Piltown bypass on the N24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49342/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Road Projects Status)

Deputy Bobby Aylward: What progress has there been on the general safety works and the tender documentation for the consultancy service for the proposed overbridge on the Piltown bypass on the N24? Will the Minister make a statement on the matter?
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40. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the actions he will take in view of the deficiencies within the Irish Aviation Authority highlighted by the Helios section 32 report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49282/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Irish Aviation Authority)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I propose to take Questions Nos. 40, 51 and 75 together.
As I have advised the House previously, civil aviation is a highly regulated global industry, and there are extensive EU and international rules and regulations which all members states are obliged to comply with. 
In Ireland, the Irish Aviation Authority is the designated, statutory body for aviation regulation and it is subject to an extensive performance audit regime. This...

41. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report to Dáil Éireann on the progress made regarding his promised review of the issuing of permits for carrying weapons and munitions on civilian aircraft. (Question 49341/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Civil Aviation Regulation)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): The internal review of the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973 is currently underway. The purpose of the internal review is to identify the options available for various aspects of the Order. 
The internal review of the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973 is currently underway. The purpose of the internal review is to identify the op...

42. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report on his role and work and that of his Department in Ireland’s bid for the Rugby World Cup. (Question 49111/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Rugby World Cup 2023)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I propose to take Questions Nos. 42, 52 and 91 together.
Before I respond to the deputies’ questions, I wish to reiterate my congratulations to France on their win. As I have said, I wish them every success as they turn their attention to delivering what I hope will be an outstanding tournament in 2023.
Wednesday’s result was disappointing, particularly after the years of work put into the bid. However, in our disappointment, we sh...