Written Answers Nos. 574-588
Dáil Éireann Debate
Written Answers Nos. 574-588
574. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport about how anti-social behaviour impacts on the city's reputation, as evidenced by recent negative media articles in the foreign press; and if he has confidence in Fáilte Ireland, as it seems to be more interested in focusing time and money on how cobblestones impact on high-heeled shoes in an area where drugs are readily available and needles litter the laneways. [43179/14]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Overall responsibility for tackling anti-social behaviour rests with my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence. For my own part, I am of course concerned about anything impacting negatively on our tourists’ experience and liaise on an ongoing basis with my cabinet colleagues on such matters.
Thankfully, Ireland remains a very safe destination generally for holidaymakers and the rate of crime against tourists is relatively low. Research has shown that the vast majority of our overseas visitors are happy to recommend Ireland as a holiday destination to others.
With specific regard to Dublin, in line with its regional tourism development functions, Fáilte Ireland is currently pursuing “Destination Dublin: A Collective Strategy for Tourism Growth to 2020". This strategy was developed by the Grow Dublin Taskforce, representing all the key tourism stakeholders in Dublin. I have asked the agency to provide the Deputy with any further relevant information relating to this tourism strategy and its promotion of Dublin as a tourism destination. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.
575. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the policies his Department are proposing to get traffic in Dublin city moving; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43207/14]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Traffic management in its area is a matter for the relevant local authority, in this case Dublin City Council, under the relevant Road Traffic Acts.
Cycling Facilities Provision
576. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if, following his recent visit to Drogheda greenway, he will make additional funding available in County Louth and east Meath for additional greenway cycling paths; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43209/14]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): All available funding for the delivery of greenways under both the National Cycle Network Funding Programme 2014 - 2016 and the Government Stimulus Package 2014/2015 is now fully committed.
However, it is likely, given the popularity and success of the greenways already delivered, that funding may become available from other sources over the coming years. The EU Structural Funds Programme 2014-2020 is currently being finalised and there may be significant opportunities for cycle infrastructure development under Interreg and the Rural Development Programmes. I understand that a number of local authorities are already positioning themselves to benefit from such opportunities.
577. Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the costs, savings already made and estimated future savings associated with the forthcoming merger between the National Roads Authority and the Railway Procurement Agency; the details of the proposed organisational structure and employee numbers for the merged body, which is to be known as transport infrastructure Ireland; his plans to proceed with the further merger of any or all transportation and transportation safety bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43210/14]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Cost savings in the order of €6 million per annum have already been secured in the combined administrative budgets for NRA and RPA since their merger was first proposed in 2010. These savings were generated both in readiness for the merger and also as a result of measures to address the financial crises. Total staff numbers have also reduced from 430 to 275.
The implementation plans for the merger, including the proposed organisational structure, the breakdown of costs and the potential for future savings are being discussed with the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform. In addition matters relating to certain staff issues are the subject of talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
I expect that the detailed plans for the merger will be finalised and implemented in parallel with the legislative process, which has reached Dail Committee Stage and is expected to be concluded by Q1 2015.
As regards proposals for the further merger of agencies under my remit, the plans for the merger of the Irish Sports Council and the National Sports Campus Development Authority are well advanced and legislation is currently before the Oireachtas.
Sports Capital Programme Data
578. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will itemise, in tabular form, all sports organisations in Dublin 2, 4, 6 and 8 which have received lottery funding or any other grant supports via his Department or agencies under the aegis of his Department from 2004 to 2014 inclusive. [43234/14]
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): The Department does not compile information on the basis of postcodes. However, details of Sports Capital Programme allocations, on a county by county basis, are available on the Department's website www.dttas.ie.
Coast Guard Services
579. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of call-outs, by day and night, undertaken by each of the four Coast Guard search and rescue helicopters based around Ireland in 2013 and to date in 2014. [43297/14]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): According to Coast Guard records, the number of call-outs by day and night, undertaken by the Irish Coast Guards' Search and Rescue helicopters in 2013 and to the end of October 2014 by base are as follows:
580. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on traffic management (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43301/14]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Traffic management in its area is a matter for the relevant local authority, in this case Fingal County Council, under the relevant Road Traffic Acts.
581. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he shares the commitment concerning the introduction of new road signs, the design of which affords Gaeilge a more distinct and prominent position, if the proposed new signs will be introduced as and when road signs require replacement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43302/14]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The primary motivation in relation to the display of text on road traffic signs is to ensure that the information they carry assists in the safe use of the road network and provides clarity for road users so as not to compromise road safety. The rules governing the design of road traffic signs are set out in my Department's Traffic Signs Manual. In particular, the format for the Irish and English language text has been in place since 1978 and was retained in the 1996 and 2010 updates of the Manual. The resulting text, format and imaging were based on research, road safety considerations and on the practical understanding of Ireland’s road network.
This had led to a clear set of rules in respect of the design of traffic signs that convey an intuitive understanding of bilingual destinations for both residents and visitors alike and I understand that we do not receive complaints from the motoring public regarding any lack of clarity or difficulty with legibility of text on our road traffic signs in either the English or Irish languages.
I am aware that my predecessor saw some merit in having a small number of signs, in a format proposed in a report commissioned by Conradh na Gaeilge, erected at a few high profile locations around the country in order to test public perceptions. The Deputy will appreciate that my priority at all times is focused on road safety and therefore before that suggestion can be advanced any further, I wish to review the position to ensure that any modification to the display of text on our road signs will not compromise road safety in any way.
Regional Road Network
582. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 1093 of 4 November 2014, the list of roads submitted by Meath County Council to his Department in 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014 for funding under the specific grant application; the amount granted to the council; the total amount of money granted by his Department by council area for each of these years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43321/14]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.
While my Department did not seek applications under the Specific Grant programme in 2013 or this year (except for bridge rehabilitation works) due to the curtailment of the programme, Meath County Council did submit a Specific Grant application to continue works on the R156 Dunboyne to Summerhill scheme and an amount of €600,000 was allocated in 2013. The Council also applied for a Laytown to Bettystown Link Road scheme during 2013. As explained in response to the Deputy's previous question I am not in a position to make grant funding available for this project at present.
It is important to reiterate that the role of Exchequer grants for regional and local roads is to supplement local authorities in their spending in this area and it is open to the Meath County Council to fund this project from its own resources.
Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla
583. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén fáth nach dtagann Uisce Éireann faoi scáth Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, 2003 agus faoi scáth an Choimisinéara Teanga dá réir agus cathain atá sí chun an dlí a athrú chun go mbeidh dualgas ar an gcomhlacht Stáit seo gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge, nó go dátheangach ar a laghad, le saoránaigh. [42894/14]
Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Joe McHugh): Tá na comhlachtaí poiblí a thagann faoi scáth Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 liostáilte i gCéad Sceideal an Achta agus sna Rialacháin um Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 (Comhlachtaí Poiblí) 2006 (I.R. Uimh. 150 de 2006) a tháinig i bhfeidhm ar 1 Bealtaine 2006. Bunaíodh Uisce Éireann i mí an Mhárta 2013 mar chuideachta leathstáit faoin Acht um Sheirbhísí Uisce 2013. Is fochuideachta chláraithe é faoi Bhord Gáis Éireann agus níl sé áirithe faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla i láthair na huaire.
Tá an próiseas chun uasdátú a dhéanamh ar chomhlachtaí poiblí atá le háireamh faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla á bhreithniú ag mo Roinn i gcomhthéacs Bhille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) 2014 atá á dhréachtú faoi láthair. Mar atá ráite i gClár Reachtaíochta an Rialtais, táthar ag súil go mbeidh an Bille foilsithe le linn an téarma seo den Dáil.
584. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will confirm whether the State-owned Arramara Teoranta has been sold to a Canadian company (details supplied) and if she will outline the terms and conditions of sale; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42928/14]
Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Joe McHugh): I wish to refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 3 of 16 July 2014 in relation to this matter. As I stated in that reply, the sale of Údarás na Gaeltachta's shares in Arramara Teo to a Canadian company was approved by the board of Údarás on 1 March 2013, subject to Ministerial approval being obtained and legal details being agreed. Following an assessment of the proposal, Ministerial approval was granted for the sale on 29 July 2013, subject to a number of specific conditions being fulfilled. I am advised that the sale of Arramara Teo was concluded on 7 May 2014 and that Údarás na Gaeltachta is satisfied that the conditions laid down have been fully complied with.
I am satisfied that the best value that could be obtained for Arramara Teo was achieved through this course of action. As a multinational company based in Nova Scotia, Canada with significant experience in the seaweed processing sector, I am satisfied that the company in question has the expertise to develop Arramara Teo and secure its long-term future for the benefit of its stakeholders. I believe that this strategic partnership will secure Arramara's future in Connemara and will result in the development of the seaweed processing sector here.
While I am unable to give the complete details with regard to the terms of the sale of Arramara Teo because of the confidentiality provisions of the contract, I am advised by Údarás na Gaeltachta that continuity of supply to Arramara's existing Irish customers is assured. One of the conditions of the sale agreement between Údarás na Gaeltachta and the company in question related to existing Irish customers of Arramara Teo being guaranteed supply of product on reasonable terms and conditions into the future. In that regard, Údarás na Gaeltachta has confirmed that the sale agreement provides for the protection of future supply to existing Irish customers of Arramara Teo, with no increase in price for Year 1 and with prices advantageous to the Irish customers as against international customers being secured. It is also understood that the company in question has covenanted to continue to supply the Irish customers. In the event of a breach of covenant, Údarás na Gaeltachta has advised that penalties would apply.
In overall terms, it is envisaged that the sale of Údarás na Gaeltachta's shares in Arramara Teo will benefit the State through a cash consideration to Údarás na Gaeltachta, through a significant investment in Arramara Teo and through the development of the seaweed sector into the future with benefit accruing to the State as a result of increased economic activity.
585. Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her Department has agreed with her Northern Ireland counterparts on a national Famine commemoration day, as discussed with the committee for commemoration of the Irish Famine victims; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42954/14]
587. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when a decision will be made regarding the location of the Famine commemoration to be held in May 2015; and if she will confirm whether it will be held in Newry, County Down. [43002/14]
The location of the National Famine Commemoration rotates between the four provinces of Ireland and in 2015 is due to take place in Ulster. Preparations for the 2015 event are overseen by the National Famine Commemoration Committee, which I chair.
The main objective of the Committee is to ensure that all victims of the Great Irish Famine are remembered in an appropriate manner. The National Famine Commemoration is, and will remain, an inclusive event, which recognises the significant impact of the famine on all communities on the island of Ireland. In that regard, our main objective is to ensure that the 2015 event will be a fitting tribute to those who perished in Ulster during the Great Famine and my Department continues to work with the key stakeholders, North and South, within that framework.
586. Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if, in resect of the space reserved at Collins Barracks, Dublin 7 to host an exhibition on the Great Irish Famine, if there are plans to facilitate this project being implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42955/14]
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Any decision in relation to an exhibition in Collins' Barracks, Dublin 7 is an operational matter for the National Museum of Ireland. However, the National Famine Commemoration Committee, which I chair, has considered the possibility of exhibiting a collection dedicated to the Irish Famine. The Committee was given to understand that much of the evidence relating to the Great Famine is statistical and pictorial and that there is insufficient material to support a dedicated exhibition as there are very limited numbers of artefacts that could be exhibited. There are of course many local museums and other entities around the country that include displays relating to the Famine period. The Irish National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, Co Roscommon, is an excellent example of such initiatives.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Since this Government has come into office, huge efforts have been made to solve the issue of the protection of Ireland's raised bog special areas of conservation within the framework of the Habitats Directive. This has included intense engagement with turf cutting interests, farmers, non-governmental organisations and with the European Commission. A long term compensation scheme was introduced to compensate cutters for their loss. The draft National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan was published in January. It sets out how the raised bog special areas of conservation are to be managed into the future and how the needs of turf cutters are to be addressed. The draft Plan sets out the demanding tests which must be met before turf cutting could be consented to within the provisions of the Directive. The final Plan will clarify whether the relevant provisions of the Directive could be applicable for any particular special area of conservation and will seek to establish whether sufficient consensus can be achieved at a national level to make a successful case to the European Commission for flexibility in accordance with Article 6(4) of the Directive.
This National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan responds to the central recommendation of Mr. Justice Quirke arising out of the 2012 Peatlands Forum and as requested in the resolution of Dáil Éireann of 7 March 2012 which called on the Government to "engage actively with the European Commission to seek a resolution within the terms of the Habitats Directive, and to prepare and submit a National Raised Bog Restoration Plan to the Commission as a matter of urgency."
Final resolution of all issues in relation to the protection of Ireland's raised bog Special Areas of Conservation will only be brought by everyone working together - within the law - with my Department and with the Peatlands Council, which was established with the purpose of ensuring the input from all stakeholders.
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