504. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the tendering process for bus services to be privatised will include a requirement for successful bidders to accept the free travel pass; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 40600/16 asked on 16 Dec 2016 - Bus Services)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): ​It is incorrect to describe the on-going competitive tendering processes as privatisation. Nothing is being sold, services are not being deregulated and control remains with the National Transport Authority (NTA).
As the Deputy is aware,  it is a statutory function of the NTA to determine the appropriate mix of directly awarded and competitively tendered bus services. In line with its statutory authority, and following a public con...

505. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the tendering process of 23 Dublin Bus Routes and five Bus Éireann routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 40601/16 asked on 16 Dec 2016 - Public Procurement Contracts)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): ​It is the responsibility of the National Transport Authority (NTA) to conduct the current public procurement processes relating to the tendering out of 10% of the PSO bus network. NTA is undertaking this by way of three separate competitions and has now completed the pre-qualification phase of each, and candidates have been informed. The NTA has issued formal invitations to tender in respect of the Dublin Metropolitan competition ...

166. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the way in which Irish and international artists performing at major concert venues such as Croke Park, the Aviva Stadium, the 3Arena and so on are treated for tax purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39732/16 asked on 13 Dec 2016 - Tax Code)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am informed by Revenue that Irish resident artistes are taxable in Ireland on their worldwide income. Artistes who are not resident in the State for tax purposes have a  liability to Irish tax on income arising from the exercise of their profession in the State. However, because foreign resident artistes merely have a transitory presence in the State, there are numerous practical difficulties associated with enforcing such a liability. For examp...

78. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if he will re-examine the fairness and rules of allowing persons claim tax back in respect of third level fees, with particular reference to the case of a person (details supplied) who was unable to claim tax back due to not earning enough through being on a low wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39356/16 asked on 08 Dec 2016 - Tax Reliefs Eligibility)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): An individual may claim income tax relief at the standard rate (20%) on qualifying fees paid by him or her in respect of approved third-level courses. An individual may claim tax relief on qualifying fees paid in respect of any person as long as he or she has paid the fees. Qualifying fees means tuition fees, but not examination fees, registration fees or administration fees. In addition, relief is not available in respect of any part of the fees ...

107. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government his plans to extend the pyrite remediation scheme to homeowners classed on level 1 pyritic damage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39355/16 asked on 08 Dec 2016 - Pyrite Remediation Programme)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): The Report of the Pyrite Panel (June 2012) recommended a categorisation system as a means of prioritising pyrite remediation works in recognition of the expensive and intrusive nature of pyrite remediation and the unpredictability of pyritic heave. The independent Pyrite Panel was clear in its view that only dwellings with significant damage due to pyritic heave should be remediate...

30. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress made on the national smarter travel policy given targets are due to be reached by 2020; the plans he is putting in place to reach them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39126/16 asked on 07 Dec 2016 - Smarter Transport)

Deputy Brendan Ryan: The economic recovery will be wasted if it is retained as the only measure of the nation’s health. With sewage spilling into our rivers and seas and carbon dioxide emissions increasing year-on-year, our beautiful green island will be green no more. We need to look at our economy through a climate change lens. As the Minister is aware, transport is a vital aspect of climate change. The Minister can be a leader on this matter. I ask him to prioritise the smarter travel po...

51. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will develop and implement a solution to the mind the gap issue on trains in order to allow wheelchair users to get off and on trains at all stops throughout Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38764/16 asked on 07 Dec 2016 - Rail Services)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Accessibility features are built into all new public transport investment projects from the design stage.  For instance, as a new component of Ireland’s rail infrastructure, the entire Luas system has been designed to enable full accessibility.  By contrast, however, Ireland’s heavy rail network is considerably older and, while new facilities on the network are built to modern accessibility standards, it is technically much more diff...

61. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of plans to implement the international ballast water management convention which is expected to come into force in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38847/16 asked on 07 Dec 2016 - International Conventions)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments 2004, known as the BWM Convention was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at a Diplomatic Conference held in London on 13th February 2004.The Convention aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another, by establishing standards and procedures for the management and control of ships’ ...

63. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will ensure that any privatisation of the public transport network, required under EU rules, should be contingent on maintaining disability access on these routes or providing disability access in which none already exists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38762/16 asked on 07 Dec 2016 - Public Transport Provision)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 it is a statutory function of the National Transport Authority (NTA) to determine the appropriate mix of directly awarded and competitively tendered bus services.  In line with its statutory authority, and following a public consultation process, the NTA announced in December 2013 that some 10% of routes currently operated by Dublin Bus and by Bus Éireann under their Direct Award contract...

72. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he is taking to ensure Ireland complies with European Transport 2050 targets to reduce emissions, including in particular, the target to move 30% of freight transport to the rail networks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38763/16 asked on 07 Dec 2016 - Greenhouse Gas Emissions)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I understand that the Deputy is referring to the 2011 EU Commission White Paper ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area’, which included a target that 30% of road freight over 300 km should shift to other modes such as rail or water-borne transport by 2030.  This would be an overall target for the Union, rather than individual Member States, and of limited relevance in Ireland as few trips here are over 300 km.  In any case, Eur...

252. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the national grants that are available for persons who wish to build either solar farms or wind farms on their property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39056/16 asked on 07 Dec 2016 - Renewable Energy Projects)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Grants or grant aid are not provided for the construction of wind or solar farms on (private) property. The convention to date is that the Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff (REFIT) schemes support the development of a range of renewable electricity technologies including hydro, biomass combustion, biomass combined heat and power, landfill gas and onshore wind. 
The Programme for Government contains a commitment t...

380. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Health the reason for the delay in a hospital appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38790/16 asked on 06 Dec 2016 - Hospital Appointments Delays)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
The scheduling of appointments for patients is a matter for the hospital to which...

381. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment date for Tallaght general hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38792/16 asked on 06 Dec 2016 - Hospital Appointments Status)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
The scheduling of appointments for patients is a matter for the hospital to which...

56. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a progress report on the review of the school bus service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37793/16 asked on 30 Nov 2016 - School Transport Review)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
Currently over 113,000 children, including some 10,000 children with special educational needs, are being transported in approximately 4,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually. 
The review of the concessionary charges and ru...

75. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government his views on local authorities ringfencing the funds collected through the sale of local authority houses for the purpose of the provision of maintenance programmes to replace windows and doors and provide or improve heating systems in local authority housing stock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37794/16 asked on 30 Nov 2016 - Local Authority Housing Funding)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Funds collected by local authorities through the sale of local authority houses or other housing-related activities, are normally used by those authorities for maintenance and improvement to their housing stock. This can include replacing windows and doors, improving heating systems and any other appropriate maintenance/improvement activities the local authority deems appropriate. 
 ...

122. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps that have been taken by the Government to revitalise rural towns; the programmes that have been put in place; the funding sources that have been made available for this purpose; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37795/16 asked on 30 Nov 2016 - Rural Economic Development Zones)

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys): The Programme for a Partnership Government highlights the importance of town and village renewal in revitalising rural Ireland. In the last number of months, I have introduced a number of schemes which will support the development of towns and villages all over Ireland.
In August, I launched a new Town and Village Renewal Scheme which has allocated funding of almost €10 million to 172 towns and villag...

128. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a progress report on the improvements announced to the cardiac care unit in Waterford University Hospital; the new measures that have been implemented since the completion of the recent review of the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37792/16 asked on 30 Nov 2016 - Hospital Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for a Partnership Government committed to the development of a second Cath Lab in University Hospital Waterford (UHW), subject to a favourable recommendation from an independent clinical review of the needs of the region. The review was undertaken by Dr. Niall Herity, a highly respected, Belfast based NHS cardiologist. 
Dr. Herity has made clear recommendations that a second cardiac cath lab at UHW is not jus...

337. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of a disability allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37431/16 asked on 29 Nov 2016 - Disability Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): I confirm my Department received an application for disability allowance (DA) on 24 May 2016. In order to determine the circumstances of this lady, her file was forwarded to her local Social Welfare Inspector (SWI). The SWI will arrange to meet with the person in question as soon as possible.
A decision on her entitlement to DA will be made on receipt of the Social Welfare Inspector’s report. The person concerne...

494. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Health when he expects to release money to the HSE in order to satisfy a recommendation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37207/16 asked on 29 Nov 2016 - Home Help Service)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I understand the Deputy is referring to Home Help workers who are employed by voluntary providers of home help services which are funded under section 39 of the Health Act 2004. It is important to note that these home help workers are not employed by the HSE and therefore the HSE and the Department has no role in determining the salaries or other terms and conditions applying to these staff including any pension arrangements. 
A joint working group has...

714. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for making the taxi services here more environmentally friendly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36870/16 asked on 29 Nov 2016 - Taxi Regulations)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I propose to take Questions Nos. 714 and 715 together.
A key element of securing more environmentally friendly taxi services is the anticipated transition of the national taxi fleet to more sustainable alternative fuels over time.
​As the Deputy may know, my Department is in the process of developing the transport sector’s contribution to the National Mitigation Plan.  This will include proposals for a range of measures aimed at supp...

715. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there are proposals for making the taxi industry more environmentally friendly; the stage of these plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36871/16 asked on 29 Nov 2016 - Taxi Regulations)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I propose to take Questions Nos. 714 and 715 together.
A key element of securing more environmentally friendly taxi services is the anticipated transition of the national taxi fleet to more sustainable alternative fuels over time.
​As the Deputy may know, my Department is in the process of developing the transport sector’s contribution to the National Mitigation Plan.  This will include proposals for a range of measures aimed at supp...

86. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of proposals for the school transport system following calls (details supplied) for observations on the way the system could be improved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36483/16 asked on 23 Nov 2016 - School Transport Review)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
Currently in the region of 114,000 children, including some 10,000 children with special educational needs, are being transported in over 4,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.
In general, children are eligible for school...

201. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of an application to the SEAI for a grant by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36451/16 asked on 23 Nov 2016 - Better Energy Homes Scheme Applications)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The Better Energy Homes Scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) under the Better Energy Programme. Better Energy Homes provides a financial incentive to private homeowners who wish to improve the energy performance of their homes. Fixed grants  are provided towards the cost of a range of measures including attic insulation, wall insulation, heating systems upgrades, solar t...

304. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of an application for a disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36194/16 asked on 22 Nov 2016 - Disability Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): I confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance from this man on 23 September 2016. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome. 
The processing time for individual disability allowance claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the thre...

526. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on a third terminal for Dublin Airport; his further views on whether one is needed; if so, his views on whether it should be run by the DAA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35792/16 asked on 22 Nov 2016 - Airport Development Projects)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): My Department recently published a request for tenders for the provision of consultancy services to review the Future Capacity Needs at Ireland’s State Airports.  The review is about planning for the long-term development of Ireland’s State Airports to 2050. For each of the three airports, the study will identify the priorities and recommended timeframe for new infrastructure development or adjustments to existing infrastructure to ...