Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Debate

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Scrutiny of EU Legislative Proposals

Chairman: Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony We will deal, first, with the proposal listed in Schedule B of the EU proposals before us. It is proposed that this proposal does not warrant further scrutiny. Is that agreed? Agreed.

We will now deal with the proposals listed in Schedule A. On COM (2014) 23, there is a communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the exploration and production of hydrocarbons such as shale gas, using high volume hydraulic fracturing in the European Union, and a Commission recommendation of 22 January 2014 on the minimum principles for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons such as shale gas, using high volume hydraulic fracturing. Notwithstanding the fact that the Ireland is not currently involved in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons, it is proposed that the communication and recommendation require further scrutiny. It is proposed, therefore, to write to the lead Department to seek its views and observations on the Commission's communication and recommendation. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy The committee will have to be scrupulously careful to ensure Ireland's independence in decision making here is not overtaken by the European Union. I ask that caution be exercised.

Chairman: Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony On COM (2014) 8, there is a communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Blue Energy - Action needed to deliver on the potential of ocean energy in European seas and oceans by 2020 and beyond. It is proposed that the communication does not warrant further scrutiny. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 10.12 a.m. and resumed at 10.15 a.m.

Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness (Vehicles Testing) (No. 2) Regulations 2013: Discussion

Chairman: Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony No. 8 on the agenda is a discussion with representatives of the Vintage Veteran Trucks Association in Ireland and the Irish Veteran and Vintage Car Club of the implications of the Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness (Vehicles Testing) (No. 2) Regulations 2013 for vintage vehicles. On behalf of the joint committee, I welcome from the Irish Veteran and Vintage Car Club Ms Bernadette Wyer, president; Mr. Peadar Ward, director; and Mr. Michael Duff, honorary secretary; and from the Vintage Veteran Trucks Association Mr. Alan Doyle and Mr. Billy Kiely.

By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against a person or an entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. The opening statements submitted to the committee will be published on its website after the meeting. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

Mr. Alan Doyle: I thank the Chairman and committee members for the invitation to address them. I represent the Vintage Veteran Trucks Association in Ireland which has a wide membership across the country. We are involved in the important restoration of vintage veteran trucks and trailers. We restore them to their original condition and participate in a number of social events throughout the year for the purpose of showing our restored vehicles and raising money for various charities. Our vehicles are restored to the highest standards with due care and attention to safety standards. They are only used for social and domestic purposes; they are not commercial vehicles. We enjoy reduced vintage insurance premia and our vehicles are classed as vintage veteran vehicles for the purposes of road tax at the reduced rate.

In 2012 we became aware that there was new legislation, the Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Act 2012, under which the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport could make regulations for the testing of vehicles and provide for exemptions from testing for certain vehicles. We wrote to the Minister, Deputy Leo Varadkar, in September 2012 requesting that when he made regulations, he exempt our vintage veteran vehicles from roadworthiness testing. We further became aware that he had made regulations, SI 347 of 2013, providing for an exemption for pre-1980 motor caravans, but he did not provide for the exemption of our vehicles, as requested. In January 2014 we again wrote to him requesting that he include our vehicles in the regulations. We received a reply from the Road Safety Authority stating that as these vehicles could be used for commercial purposes, they had to be tested. We again wrote to the Minister in February to point out that our vehicles were not commercial vehicles and that they were only used for social and domestic purposes. We provided him with a suggested text to amend the regulations to exclude pre-1980 vintage vehicles.


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