1. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide the most up-to-date figures for fatalities on our roads in 2013; if he is satisfied that the necessary resources are currently available to the Road Safety Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54705/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Road Safety Statistics)

Deputy Timmy Dooley: The Minister will be aware that there appears to be a trend towards an increase in the number of deaths on the roads. While I am always slow to accept early signals on overall statistics in this area, it is clear that there will be a significant rise in the number of deaths on the roads over the course of the year, which is of deep concern to all of us. We have had a good process in this House of a joint approach by the Opposition and the Government, which also applied whe...

2. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the 7% reduction to the budget of the Irish Sports Council; and his views on the effect this will have on the delivery of front-line services by national governing sports bodies, and on the high performance programme. (Question 54579/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Sports Funding)

Deputy Sandra McLellan: The role of sport in Irish society is very important and somewhat undervalued. For example, the cost of detaining one young person in Oberstown is €278,000 per year. On the other hand, when the Football Association of Ireland ran the late night street leagues, the number of call-outs decreased by 49% and the cost was a mere €15,000. The 7% cut in funding for the Sports Council is an almighty blow which will deal a further blow to the key bodies in this area. Does the ...

3. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the contact he has had with Aer Lingus management regarding the future of the airline; and his views on the State’s 25% ownership. (Question 54578/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Semi-State Bodies)

Deputy Clare Daly: I apologise for my absence earlier; I was mistakenly advised that I had the fifth question.
I wish to know the dealings the Minister has had with Aer Lingus in recent months with regard to the future ownership of the company and also with regard to a number of quite substantial changes that have taken place on some operational matters on the pension etc. I would be quite glad to get any such information because obviously these issues are overhanging the staff as we speak.
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4. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of the critical comments of Mr. Justice Michael Peart towards the Irish Sports Council during the proceedings in court action taken against the Sports Council by a board director, the action he intends to take regarding the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54706/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Departmental Investigations)

Deputy Timmy Dooley: As the Minister is aware, this issue arose from a recent court case taken by a board member of the Irish Sports Council. In light of the comments by the judge, I would welcome hearing the Minister’s views and learning what action he intends to take as a result.
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5. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of the recent top-up scandals if he intends to investigate significant unexplained extra payments and expenses, due to be returned, to executives and board members in Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54608/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Harbour Authorities Expenditure)

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: I have asked the Minister questions on the goings-on in Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company on numerous occasions since I entered the Dáil and I have not really got the answers. I have asked questions about the unexplained €19,877 paid to the CEO of the company by himself explained as money in lieu of holidays. I have asked questions about whether expenses wrongly claimed by a company director that were supposed to be paid back ever were paid back. We have never got a r...

6. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will implement the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications to introduce a point to point licence for oversized HGVs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54131/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Haulage Industry Regulation)

Deputy Denis Naughten: The ban on oversized HGVs has huge implications for the agriculture sector. For example, it reduces the capacity for live exports by one fifth and the transport of fodder from the south east of the country to the west by approximately one third. It also increases vehicle movements on many substandard national secondary roads by up to 70%. I would like the Minister to review this issue.
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7. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider providing a capital grant scheme for mountain rescue organisations to enable the organisations, most of which are staffed by volunteers, to update or modernise equipment in view of the very welcome growth in adventure and activity related tourism which unfortunately at times requires the services of such mountain rescue organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54333/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Mountain Recue Funding)

Deputy Seán Kyne: I am asking the Minister to consider the introduction of a modest capital grant scheme for Mountain Rescue Ireland and various other subsidiary bodies, for equipment and the replacement of jeeps and vans. Such vehicles are used to transport hard-working volunteers to their mountain bases to carry out their important rescue work.
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8. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his plans to designate Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point, as the natural starting and ending point of the Wild Atlantic Way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54403/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Wild Atlantic Way Project)

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: My question concerns the Wild Atlantic Way and specifically the need for Malin Head to be identified as the northern starting point of that route. This is a welcome project and I commend Fáilte Ireland for the preparatory work it has carried out on identifying the route and bringing it to its current status. It offers great potential for tourism right across the country, including the potential to attract visitors to County Donegal. It is important to use Malin Hea...

9. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the National Transport Authority’s plans to tender out 10% of the publicly subsidised bus routes currently operated by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. (Question 54331/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Public Transport)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The National Transport Authority, NTA, recently announced the privatisation of some bus routes in the south east to and from Dublin. During the consultation period, there was opposition to that privatisation. Does the Minister of State not agree that the evidence of privatisation from other jurisdictions highlights the human, social and economic costs of having a public service delivered by private companies?
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10. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the next round of the sports capital programme will be opened up for applications. (Question 54254/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Sports Capital Programme Applications)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 48 together. 
Departmental officials are currently working on the details of a new round of the Sports Capital Programme. I hope to be in a position to make an announcement shortly. I believe that this will demonstrate this Government’s understanding of the value of sport from both an economic and health perspective.  Sports capital funding is essential for the provision of modern fit-for-pu...

11. Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update in respect of proposed works at Foynes Port, County Limerick, including the possible re-opening of the Limerick-Foynes railway line to convey freight and other cargo to and from Foynes Port, and the construction of new jetty facilities at Foynes; if EU funding has been applied for in respect of these works; if he or his Department has been in a position to support any such applications for funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54250/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Ports Development)

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: The question relates to the recent designation by the Government of the Shannon Foynes Port Company as the only tier 1 port in the west and specifically connectivity from the port by road and rail.
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12. Deputy Helen McEntee asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the traffic statistics for Slane, County Meath, during the recent toll holiday; the increase or decrease in the number of HGVs travelling through the village during the toll holiday period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54139/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Traffic Management)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): As I have indicated previously I am concerned that large numbers of HGVs continue to use our regional and local roads in order to avoid tolls, and are driving through towns, villages and rural areas with large populations. This has safety implications for other road users, residents and pedestrians. In addition by using local and regional roads instead of custom-built motorways, HGVs are adding to the wear and tear of the legacy ro...

13. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which his Department has monitored the success of The Gathering in terms of benefit to the tourism industry; the degree if any to which the experience can be used in future years to build on its success with obvious benefit to the tourism sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54375/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Tourism Promotion)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 30 together. 
The primary of the Gathering Ireland 2013 was to generate additional overseas visits and increase revenue in 2013.  We set a target of 325,000 visitors and we will exceed this. A detailed study to evaluate the economic impact of The Gathering is being undertaken and it is hoped to have this complete by April. Of course, the Gathering was not just about visitor numbers and reven...

14. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the up to date tourism figures for the north west region at the end of 2013; if he is satisfied with same in comparison to the other regions; and his Department’s plans or that of the relevant tourism agencies to further promote tourism performance in 2014 in the north west. (Question 54392/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Tourism Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): The collection of statistics, including overseas visitors, is primarily a matter for the Central Statistics Office (CSO).  The CSO does not, however, provide a regional breakdown of statistics in their monthly ‘Overseas Travel’ publication. I am aware that Fáilte Ireland provides an estimated regional breakdown of overseas visits on an annual basis, based on research of its own as well as available CSO sta...

15. Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects to publish the new aviation policy to include regional airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54159/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Aviation Issues)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The new national aviation policy will outline the actions to be taken by Government to help sustain and develop the aviation sector, in order to create jobs and facilitate business and tourism. A total of 74 submissions were received as part of the public consultation process that took place earlier this year. The number and quality of the submissions received is encouraging and demonstrates the strong interest there is in shaping ...

16. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the actions his Department is taking in conjunction with Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann to improve punctuality in the services of each of the companies and the quality of service provided by each company. (Question 54130/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Public Transport)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): The National Transport Authority (NTA) entered into separate contracts with the three CIÉ companies for the provision of Public Service Obligation (PSO) services. Among other things,  the contracts set standards of operational performance and customer service and contain penalties for non-performance. The NTA monitors the contracted performance of each PSO operator on a quarterly basis and the reports are av...

17. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the implementation of the ports policy; if his attention has been drawn to concerns that the designation of certain ports as ports of regional significance may inadvertently negatively impact on the ability of port companies to raise finance for port development plans; and when he intends to bring in legislation to facilitate the transfer of ports of regional significance to the relevant local authorities. (Question 54332/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Ports Development)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The core objective of National Ports Policy is to facilitate a competitive and effective market for maritime transport services. The long-term international trend in ports and shipping is toward increased consolidation of resources in order to achieve optimum efficiencies of scale. This has knock-on effects in terms of vessel size, the depths of water required at ports and the type and scale of port hinterland transport connections...

18. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of the tourist potential linked to the work of the Irish Seal Sanctuary, if he will facilitate this volunteer organisation with a suitable permanent premises in Balbriggan as part of the previously planned marine conservation project in conjunction with Fingal County Council. (Question 54134/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Tourism Promotion)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): My Department’s role in relation to tourism relates primarily to national policy. It is not involved in the administration of tourism-related funding programmes nor the building of tourist attractions.  That is a matter for the State tourism agencies.  
In this regard, Fáilte Ireland administers the Tourism Capital Investment Programme, which provides support for investment in certain categories of visitor attraction, visitor ac...

19. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the strategic investment framework for land transport being undertaken by his Department; and if he will report on his proposals to incorporate metro north into this framework. (Question 54129/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Work on developing a strategic framework for investment in land transport is ongoing within my Department. The assessment of specific projects required to meet current and future demand will, however, remain subject to detailed appraisal of the benefits and costs of each individual project. Many issues shall be addressed in this investment framework. Future transport demand depends on a wide array of drivers, such as  projected d...

20. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he considers the recent fare increases introduced by public transport companies to be sustainable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54393/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Public Transport)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Public transport fares are the responsibility of the regulator, the National Transport Authority (NTA), who adjudicate on applications from the CIE companies and the Railway Procurement Agency for fare increases or changes.
In our dealings with all companies, we have consistently emphasised that they must reduce costs ahead of future fare increases or service cuts.  However, in the current environment, it is...

21. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the tourism policy review; the issues that are emerging following the public consultation; and when the final document will be published. (Question 54334/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Tourism Policy)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Tourism Policy Review was launched on 11th September 2013 by Minister Ring and me.  It was launched with the publication of an issues paper and request for submissions.  The level of interest has been such that I extended the deadline for receipt of responses to the public consultation to 22 November 2013. A detailed analysis of all responses has commenced.  In terms of the responses to date, over 160 submissions have been rece...

22. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if recent reductions in train frequency and number of carriages on trains at stations in County Kildare are in conflict with the requirements laid out in the public service obligation contract between the National Transport Authority and Iarnród Éireann as agreed in 2009; if the most recent amendments to the PSO contract have been made to allow for previously agreed punctuality and reliability targets to be disregarded; if he proposes any increase in service quality for the affected areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54405/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Public Transport)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): I propose to take Questions Nos. 22, 26, 31, 47 and 54 together. 
While the issue raised is a matter for Iarnród Éireann in conjunction with the National Transport Authority (NTA), Minister Varadkar and I have been in contact with both in relation to the matters raised. Any changes to rail services provided under the PSO contract with Iarnród Éireann require the approval of the NTA.  The NTA reviews on a...

23. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on his work with the Stormont Assembly in order to lobby the British Government on the proposed HGV levy and the threat it poses to cross-Border trade. (Question 54259/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Road Tolls)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Since 1999 various EU directives have set common rules on distance-related tolls and time-based user charges (vignettes) for HGVs for the use of certain infrastructure.  It is open to any Member State to introduce road user charges if it wishes.  Road charging is an important revenue source option in relation to funding of roads infrastructure, particularly in the context of ensuring that out of state hauliers contribute to the cos...

24. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to develop a system of US preclearance for freight; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54132/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - International Agreements)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Ireland-U.S. Preclearance Agreement signed by both Governments in 2008, provides for the preclearance of commercial and general aviation aircraft and their passengers. The agreement explicitly excludes cargo preclearance. An Ireland - US Preclearance Consultative Group, comprising  U.S. and Irish officials was established to monitor progress in preclearance and  the issue of freight preclearance has been raised in this forum....

25. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has had any discussions with the Department of Health, the sports authorities and the Health Service Executive regarding the possibility of establishing a sports and exercise department in the HSE in order to ensure that the role of exercise fitness and well being is given adequate attention in our health care system. (Question 54337/13 asked on 19 Dec 2013 - Sport and Recreational Development)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): I have no responsibility in relation to the HSE or the operational structures established within the HSE. It is entirely a matter for the Department of Health and the HSE as to how their operational structures are organised. 
Sport can make a significant contribution to health and the prevention of illness and disability. There are many health benefits to be gained from participation in sport and physical ...