1. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the contingencies and supports in place to safeguard Irish businesses and exports from a hard Brexit scenario including revision of state aid rules; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43201/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Brexit Issues)

Deputy Niall Collins: I want to ask the Minister to outline the contingencies and supports in place to safeguard Irish businesses, exporters and exports from a hard Brexit scenario that may transpire from the ultimate conclusion of the Brexit process, and also any measures she is taking regarding the revision of state aid rules.
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2. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when the report into the failings of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in a trial (details supplied) will be published, having been delivered to her office in July 2017. (Question 43200/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement Legal Cases)

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan: My question pertains to the report into the failings of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in the Seán FitzPatrick trial. Will the Minister indicate when this report will be published, the report having been delivered to her office last July?
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3. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding introducing legislation to enhance the powers of PIAB in view of the recommendation in the cost of motor insurance report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43202/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Motor Insurance)

Deputy Niall Collins: As the lead Government Minister with responsibility in this area, I ask her for an update on the introduction of legislation to enhance the powers of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, PIAB, given the recommendation in the cost of motor insurance report. Perhaps the Minister will tell the House what progress has been made on this.
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5. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to seek a change in enterprise policy in order that the south-east region can attract a more proportionate share of foreign direct investment and high potential start-ups in view of the fact the region has historically lagged behind; if the region will receive its fair share of the ten-year national investment plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43252/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Regional Development)

Deputy Seamus Healy: In view of the fact that the south-east region has historically lagged behind in both economic and regional development, will the Minister ensure there is a change in enterprise policy in order that the region attracts a more proportionate share of foreign direct investment and high-potential start-ups? Will she ensure the region gets its fair share of the national investment plan coming soon?
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6. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of microfinance and loan guarantees under her Department’s indigenous enterprise development division which were granted in 2015, 2016, and to date in 2017; the value of this finance and loans in each of these years; the areas and sectors receiving this support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42767/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Small and Medium Enterprises Data)

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: When the Minister and the Minister of State are rambling around the country, they always say that access to working capital is the key issue for SMEs. How are Microfinance Ireland and credit schemes for indigenous companies performing, in particular the credit guarantee scheme, CGS, 2017? The counter guarantee scheme still awaits the publication of a statutory instrument.
The Government announced a new €300 million Brexit fund. How will that operate in particular to...

7. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the plans her Department and the State’s industrial promotion agencies have to assist in job creation in 2017 and 2018; their further plans to maintain existing employment in County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43133/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Brexit Issues)

Deputy Brendan Smith: I have raised previously with the Tánaiste the concerns in areas such as Cavan and Monaghan about the adverse impact of Brexit. Employment in our area is dependent on indigenous enterprise. The agrifood, construction and engineering sectors are the main sources of employment and they are heavily dependent on the Northern Ireland and British market. Already the weakness of sterling has had negative impacts on those companies so there must be specific programmes of assista...

8. Deputy James Lawless asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the introduction of a scheme to incentivise small businesses to innovate without risking scarce capital reserves (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43135/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Small and Medium Enterprises Supports)

Deputy James Lawless: Before I introduce Question No. 8, I refer to Question No. 25, tabled prior to the budget, which refers to Ireland joining the European Southern Observatory. I acknowledge that Ireland has commenced the process of joining the body. This is a welcome and positive step for Ireland’s astronomy community and presents many commercial opportunities. I thank the Tánaiste and her Department for their role in this matter.
Question No. 8 refers to the possibility of introducing an...

9. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount drawn down under the microfinance scheme for businesses since its inception; the number of businesses assisted; the number of jobs created to date by this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42761/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Small and Medium Enterprises Data)

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: When the Minister and the Minister of State are rambling around the country, they always say that access to working capital is the key issue for SMEs. How are Microfinance Ireland and credit schemes for indigenous companies performing, in particular the credit guarantee scheme, CGS, 2017? The counter guarantee scheme still awaits the publication of a statutory instrument.
The Government announced a new €300 million Brexit fund. How will that operate in particular to...

10. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the Department that has the lead remit for the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC; and her views on the fact that employment policy and enforcement are now divided between two departments. (Question 43165/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Departmental Functions)

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: In moving the employment rights and minimum wage agenda to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, we are effectively aligning employee-based rights with the welfare to work agenda and focusing on ensuring that our policies encourage people into the workforce with fair terms and conditions. That Department has responsibility for Intreo, the national contact point for employment and income supports that also acts as a pathway to employment for many ...

11. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to minimise the impact of Brexit in County Donegal; the engagement she has had with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to ensure they secure new investment in County Donegal in view of Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42763/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Brexit Issues)

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: What are the Minister’s plans to minimise the impact of Brexit on County Donegal? What engagement has she had so far with IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to ensure they secure new investment into the country particularly in view of the challenge of Brexit? Will she make a statement on the matter?
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12. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to establish a co-operative development unit to increase the number of worker co-operatives. (Question 43035/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Small and Medium Enterprises Supports)

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan: The Leas-Cheann Comhairle will probably be interested in this question on co-operatives. I was disappointed that the Ceann Comhairle took out one line of the question we tabled, which referred to the Sinn Féin alternative budget. We were advised that it would be argumentative, which I find disappointing. I wanted to reference that in what I planned saying. Will the Minister consider establishing a co-operative development unit to increase the number of worker co-ope...

13. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the measures she is taking to address the below average growth of foreign direct investment job creation, the lack of progress in stimulating indigenous industry and the deficit of IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland activity in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43170/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Job Creation)

Deputy Mick Wallace: As the Tánaiste is probably aware, the south east is the only region not meeting the Action Plan for Jobs target of bringing unemployment to within 1% of the national average. Within the south east, Wexford is performing worst of all the counties. In 2015, only 2.4% of the net IDA Ireland supported jobs created were in the south east despite the region making up almost 11% of the population. In 2016, the figure was 5.7%, which is still well short of 10.7%. The figures fo...

20. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the plans her Department and the State’s industrial promotion agencies have to assist in job creation in 2017 and 2018 and in the maintenance of existing employment throughout County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43134/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Brexit Issues)

Deputy Brendan Smith: I have raised previously with the Tánaiste the concerns in areas such as Cavan and Monaghan about the adverse impact of Brexit. Employment in our area is dependent on indigenous enterprise. The agrifood, construction and engineering sectors are the main sources of employment and they are heavily dependent on the Northern Ireland and British market. Already the weakness of sterling has had negative impacts on those companies so there must be specific programmes of assista...

1. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to deal with the financial shortfall in Iarnród Éireann in the capital budget for the rail network; his views on whether closing certain rail lines is a potential solution and his further views on establishing a multi-stakeholder forum to deliberate on and propose solutions to the financial difficulties. (Question 42238/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Rail Network)

Deputy Robert Troy: The precarious financial position of Iarnród Éireann has been widely reported on. The Minister received a draft rail review report from the NTA around this time last year or possibly before then which stated that unless there was a serious cash injection for Iarnród Éireann, we would see widespread closures. There was also a reference to the possibility of a combination of closures and a cash injection. Will the Minister tell the House what the current state of play is in ...

2. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the actions he is considering to address the ongoing financial difficulties at Iarnród Éireann; the actions he plans to take to secure the future viability and success of the company; if line closures, fare increases, increases in funding for the free travel pass, increased subvention, compensation for previous under funding and increased capital investment have been considered, which of these actions are likely to be pursued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42240/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Rail Network)

Deputy Imelda Munster: What actions has the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport taken to address the ongoing financial difficulties at Iarnród Éireann and to secure its future viability and success? Will there be line closures, fare increases or increases in funding for the free travel pass because none of this is clear in the budget?
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3. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will increase the tourism marketing budget to mitigate the decline in visitor numbers from the UK in view of the decline in visitor numbers experienced in 2017; and his views on whether the capital budget for tourism development is adequate to deal with the emerging difficulties in the sector. (Question 42239/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Tourism Promotion)

Deputy Robert Troy: These questions were tabled prior to the budget. I acknowledge that yesterday we saw a small increase in the tourism and marketing budget to mitigate against the decline in visitor numbers from the United Kingdom in light of Brexit. Will the Minister outline specifically how much additional funding will be allocated to Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland for advertising and marketing in light of Brexit? Will additional staff be hired or what is the Government’s plan? Since...

4. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the industrial relations situation in Irish Rail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42237/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Industrial Relations)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Question No. 4 is in the name of Deputy Barry. Permission has been given to Deputy Paul Murphy to ask it.
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5. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the section of the Road Traffic Act 2016 will be commenced which makes vehicle owners liable if they allow an unaccompanied learner to drive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42236/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Road Safety)

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Last week was road safety week but up to a few days ago 118 citizens had, tragically, died on the roads. Before last Christmas we passed the Road Traffic Act. Section 35A specifically said it shall be an offence for the owner of a vehicle to allow it to be driven by a learner driver driving unaccompanied. In the past ten months the Minister has done absolutely nothing to commence the section. As he is aware, the provision came forward in response to calls from the ...

6. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will liaise with the stakeholders involved with Claremont stadium in Navan, County Meath, regarding its proposed sale in order for this national athletic facility to continue to serve Irish athletics and local communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42150/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Sport and Recreational Development)

Deputy Shane Cassells: I ask the Minister if he will liaise with the stakeholders involved with Claremont stadium athletics facility in Navan regarding the proposed sale in order to secure this national facility to serve athletics and local communities. I ask the Minister not to read the prepared email he sent during the summer. There are many decent athletics and sporting people listening this morning and I ask the Minister to consider the matter.
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7. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects to be in a position to identify his priorities in respect of the sports capital programme, major or minor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42152/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Sports Capital Programme)

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: This question relates to the extent to which the Minister is hopeful of being able to expand on the sports capital grants and when he is likely to be in a position to make an announcement on allocations.
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8. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the decision of the NTA to award a company (details supplied) 10% of existing Dublin Bus routes; and the way in which this will improve the services for persons that use these routes. (Question 42136/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Bus Services)

Deputy Bríd Smith: I would love to hear the Minister’s views on the decision by the National Transport Authority, NTA, to award Go-Ahead, a British based global bus company, 10% of Dublin bus routes and not Dublin Bus. The Minister’s views are probably limited because in response to anything to do with the NTA, he usually says that it is the authority’s business and not his, but I would love to hear his own views and not some reply that has been written for him by an official on the awarding of...

9. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the IAA remains the first choice as competent authority under EU Regulation 598/14; if not, the reason therefor; and when the decision will be finalised in the context of the ongoing development of the new runway at Dublin Airport. (Question 42143/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Irish Aviation Authority)

Deputy Clare Daly: This time last year, the Minister promised me that legislation would be before us by Christmas to give effect to EU Regulation 598/2014 installing the Irish Aviation Authority, IAA, as the competent authority dealing with aircraft noise. In the year since then, the Minister has told us that it was the organisation best placed to do that job even though nothing is in place to bring that any nearer to completion. Is that still the Minister’s preference, and when will we see le...

10. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the intervention he will take if Irish Rail workers decide to strike in October 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42147/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Rail Services Staff)

Deputy Joan Collins: I wish to ask the Minister his view on the potential pending strike by railway workers in Iarnród Éireann, who are currently balloting for strike action. I want the Minister’s view on this because it has been well-flagged that Iarnród Éireann has been under serious financial strain. Since 2014 the company has been down €160 million; last year there were problems again and it had to go looking for extra funding. The Minister has on his desk a report saying that Irish Rail ...

11. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he plans to take to protect the rights of a company’s (details supplied) passengers that have been impacted by flight cancellations; if he will consider a review of regulations in the sector which include a protection for workers’ rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42164/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Aviation Industry)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Since Ryanair announced that it had made a commercial decision to cancel or suspend flights on a number of routes across it European-wide network, officials from my Department have been in regular contact with all the relevant entities including Ryanair, the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) and the Irish Aviation Authority.
I have also been in direct contact with the airline’s CEO and have expressed the Government’s concerns ...

12. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the various industrial disputes in the UK in recent years involving bus workers and a company (details supplied) that has recently been successful in its tender application for 10% of Dublin Bus routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42028/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Bus Services)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): As I stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 8 (42136/17), of 11/10/17 it is a statutory function of the National Transport Authority (NTA) to conduct the public procurement process relating to the tendering out of 10% of the PSO bus network. I am aware of industrial disputes involving the company and workers at a rail franchise it holds in the UK.
The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) recommendation of May 2015, accepted by...