Header Item Written Answers Nos. 608-621
 Header Item Rail Services
 Header Item Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme
 Header Item Road Traffic Legislation
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Coastal Erosion
 Header Item Road Traffic Legislation
 Header Item Military Aircraft Landings
 Header Item Military Aircraft Landings
 Header Item Visual Artist's Workspace Scheme
 Header Item Special Areas of Conservation Appeals
 Header Item Air Services Provision

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 865 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 608-621

  Question No. 608 answered with Question No. 596.

Rail Services

 609. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 993 of 14 January 2015, if his Department has funding available for the opening of railway stations; the extent that private funding is relied upon for the opening of railway stations; his views on the matter of providing railway stations in communities that are less commercially attractive to private investors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3827/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Under the current capital plan the key priority with the level of resources available is to protect investments made to date and to maintain safety standards. There is no Exchequer funding available to open new train stations. If additional funds become available under the next capital plan, which is not certain, there will be many competing projects from all transport modes in all regions.

Any additional funds will be prioritised for projects for which there is a clear need, which are affordable, have a sound business case and add value to existing infrastructure.

In the past there have been circumstances where Developer and Section 49 Levies have contributed, along with Exchequer funding, towards the cost of new railway stations in Cork and Dublin. In addition, some stations have been funded by private developer funding. These were in Strategic Development Zones or in areas of high predicted growth.

Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme

 610. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the position regarding changes to the pensions of persons currently in payment under the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme; if his attention has been drawn to the hardship this will cause for many persons; the steps being taken to resolve the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3839/15]

 611. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the steps he will take to ensure that the deferred members of the Irish airlines superannuation scheme are treated in a fair and equitable manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3840/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 610 and 611 together.

I would once again like to make it clear that the solution that has been implemented to address the funding difficulties in the IASS is a matter for the Trustees, the companies participating in the scheme, the scheme members and the Pensions Authority.

Pension schemes are closely regulated under Irish and European pension law and the Pensions Authority is the national statutory regulatory authority in Ireland. There are prescribed procedures and limitations in place governing any reductions in pension rights introduced to address funding difficulties in a scheme such as the IASS. Policy in this regard is primarily a matter for my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection.

Section 50 of the Pensions Act was amended in 2013 by the Oireachtas to broaden the options available to the trustees of a pension scheme facing funding difficulties.

It is a matter for the trustees of the scheme, who are required under trust law to act in the best interest of all scheme members, to determine how the relevant provisions in the Pensions Acts might be applied to address a scheme's funding problems.

The proposal from the IASS trustee was approved by the Pensions Authority and was implemented on 31 December 2014. The IASS trustee has confirmed that these measures are in the overall best interest of the members of the IASS as a whole and are fully compliant with National and EU law.

I am very conscious of the difficulties these necessary changes cause for many scheme members, but the risks that would have arisen for all members, the companies involved and the wider economy if this solution had not been implemented were even greater.

Road Traffic Legislation

 612. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 608 and 610 of 20 January 2015, if the road traffic Bill 2015 will include both legislation for the treaty on mutual recognition of disqualified drivers with the UK and legislation for roadside drug testing devices. [3843/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe It is my intention that the Road Traffic Bill 2015 will include legislation for the treaty on mutual recognition of disqualified drivers with the UK and legislation for roadside drug testing, including allowing for use of devices.

  Question No. 613 answered with Question No. 582.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 614. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the reason in the recent document, Investing in Our Transport Future: A Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport, the role of rail has been given such a low priority, particularly in view of the fact that rail is universally considered to be a low-carbon alternative to road transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3938/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The draft Framework “Investing in Our Transport Future” was published for public consultation in August last. Having considered the submissions made, my Department is in the process of finalising a consultation report and resulting revisions that are proposed to the draft Framework.

Key areas considered included the link between economic growth and transport investment, current investment levels vis-à-vis past levels and international norms, the funding necessary to keep existing land transport infrastructure at its current standard and the likely scale, nature and impact of transport demand on our network in the medium to long term along with an assessment of transport and demographic trends.

A set of principles was proposed to frame and prioritise land transport investment decisions, identifying key corridors and economic drivers for investment rather than mode specific projects. However, the role that investment in public transport can play in reducing emissions, particularly in urban areas, is highlighted in the draft Framework.

The draft Framework concludes that the key challenge with regard to investment in land transport is securing investment levels consistent with maintaining, renewing and improving a transport network that can efficiently support the economic and social needs of the country.

At the end of 2014 I brought forward a Supplementary Estimate which included additional new funding in the public transport capital investment programme of €101 million which along with maintaining the level of current PSO funding will ensure that the existing network can be maintained.

Furthermore, the draft Framework recommends the development of a new rail policy, intended to have regard to social and environmental considerations uniquely addressed by the rail network in addition to the economic and investment context already established in the report.  I propose to address that recommendation over the coming months, beginning with a further consultation process on the role of rail in meeting our future transport needs. 

Coastal Erosion

 615. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the steps being taken to protect coastal road and rail infrastructure from storms; the projects that are currently under way in this regard; if he views the promised €250 million over the next five years to be sufficient to deal with the current and expected damage occurring as a result of more extreme weather conditions due to global warming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3939/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I will shortly be making grant allocations to local authorities for 2015 in respect of regional and local roads. The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is of course 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. It is a matter for local authorities to manage coastal protection works including those affecting coastal roads, in line with resources and in conjunction with national policy by the OPW.

My Department provides funding to Iarnród Éireann for the maintenance and renewal of rail infrastructure under the Infrastructure Manager Multi-Annual Contract (IMMAC). A total of €116m has been allocated for 2015 and it is a matter for Iarnród Éireann to prioritise the funding allocations, depending on a range of risk factors such, as inter alia, the type of asset, the condition of the asset, usage of the asset, or the location of the asset.

In 2014, my Department was retrospectively allocated €16.2m for local authorities to assist in the repair of damaged regional and local roads following the storms of 13 December 2013 - 6 January 2014.  A total of €7m in retrospective funding was allocated last year to Iarnród Éireann for the damages arising in the same period.

Apart from carry over of €2.1 million into 2015 (from the €16.2 million referred to above) no further commitments have been given to my Department for funding to protect against the effects of severe weather or in respect of coastal infrastructure.

Road Traffic Legislation

 616. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to the Topical Issue debate on 15 January 2015, if he will examine a reply (details supplied) issued by Dublin City Council which contradicts the information he provided to Dáil Éireann on the enforceability of road traffic legislation in public parks; and if he will liaise with Dublin City Council in order that it will be properly established whether local gardaí and local authorities are simply not well enough informed about road traffic legislation or whether there is evidence available from them about difficulties in enforcing road traffic legislation in public parks. [3945/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The reply from Dublin City Council which was attached to the Deputy's Question accurately reflects the position regarding the non-applicability of the Road Traffic Acts to public parks. My response to the Topical Issues Debate of 15 January last dealt with the topic raised, which was the use of 'scrambler bikes in public spaces’. My response would have been more expansive if I had known the full interest of the Deputy.

Road traffic legislation applies to the use of mechanically propelled vehicles in a public place and the Gardaí have responsibility for the enforcement of this legislation. For the purposes of road traffic legislation, a 'public place' means any public road, and any street, road or other place to which the public have access with vehicles whether as of right or by permission and whether subject to or free of charge. 

While this includes car parks and the road leading to them in public parks, it does not include parts of a park where mechanically propelled vehicles are not allowed to operate. The rules governing such places are generally contained in bye-laws made by the relevant local authorities and I note in this case that Dublin City Council point out that their bye-laws specifically state that vehicles such as motorbikes and scramblers are not permitted in parks, albeit that the Council said it had difficulty enforcing this.

It remains the position, however, that responsibility for public parks, including enforcement of the applicable bye-laws, is a matter for the relevant local authority.

Military Aircraft Landings

 617. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 617 of 20 January 2015 if he will provide a breakdown of the country of origin of the 606 applications for exemptions in 2014 under the Air Navigation Carriage of Munitions of War Weapons and Dangerous Goods Order 1973. [3947/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The nationalities of the airlines making the 606 applications received in 2014 under the Air Navigation Carriage of Munitions of War Weapons and Dangerous Goods Order 1973 are as follows:

  USA – 566

  Turkey – 11

  Ireland – 10

  UK – 9

  Netherlands – 3

  Poland – 3

  Russia – 1

  Spain – 1

  Switzerland – 1

  Ukraine – 1

Military Aircraft Landings

 618. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 617 of 20 January 2015 if he will clarify the statement on whether a foreign state is entitled to transport a large number of troops on their way to war through a neutral state; and whether or not those troops are carrying arms. [3948/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As I have outlined previously, the permits granted by my Department under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order, 1973, as amended, are for the carriage of munitions on civil aircraft in Irish airspace. I have no function as regards the passengers on board such civil aircraft.

I am advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that Ireland’s policy of military neutrality is characterised by non-participation in military alliances. Arrangements for the over-flight and landing of US military aircraft at Shannon Airport have been in place continuously under successive Governments for over fifty years. These arrangements, and those relating to the transit of US military personnel, are fully consistent with Ireland’s policies and legal requirements, including our traditional policy of military neutrality.

Visual Artist's Workspace Scheme

 619. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if her attention has been drawn to the visual artists' workspace scheme; if 83% of that scheme's funding has been allocated to the urban centres of Dublin, Galway and Cork; if her attention has been further drawn to the stated aim of the scheme, which is assisting artists' workspaces throughout the country; the level of support from this scheme received by groups in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3701/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Visual Artists' Workspace Scheme is administered by the Arts Council. The Arts Council operates under the provisions of the Arts Act 2003, which provides, inter alia, that the Council is independent in the performance of its functions in funding the Arts. As Minister, I cannot, therefore, review decisions of the Council in relation to such matters.

Special Areas of Conservation Appeals

 620. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will provide a list of all appeals conducted by the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board in 2013 and 2014 on objections to the designation of sites to include; the location of each designated site regarding which an appeal was conducted; the outcome of each appeal; if an oral hearing formed part of the appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3863/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Following the completion of a Departmental review of an objection to the proposed designation of a site as a special area of conservation or special protection area, landowners may opt to take their cases to the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board, an independently chaired Board which makes recommendations to me, as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, on such cases.

  The appeals process includes an oral hearing.

  The Board heard 17 Appeals over the period referred to in the Deputy’s Question. The location of each site and the outcome of each hearing are outlined in the table below. In each case, the recommendation of the Board was accepted.

 SITE NAMESITE CODECOUNTYDATE OF ORAL HEARINGOUTCOME
1Derryveagh and Glendowan Mountains SPA4039Donegal08/03/2013Partly Successful
2Derryveagh and Glendowan Mountains SPA4039Donegal08/03/2013Partly Successful
3Derryveagh and Glendowan Mountains SPA4039Donegal08/03/2013Partly Successful
4Derryveagh and Glendowan Mountains SPA4039Donegal08/03/2013Partly Successful
5Derryveagh and Glendowan Mountains SPA4039Donegal08/03/2013Partly Successful
6Kenmare River SAC2158Kerry11/04/2013Unsuccessful
7Inishbofin, Omey, Turbot Islands SPA4231Galway08/05/2013Partly Successful
8Inishbofin, Omey, Turbot Islands SPA4231Galway08/05/2013Partly Successful
9Inishbofin, Omey, Turbot Islands SPA4231Galway08/05/2013Partly Successful
10Inishbofin, Omey, Turbot Islands SPA4231Galway08/05/2013Partly Successful
11Inishbofin, Omey, Turbot Islands SPA4231Galway08/05/2013Partly Successful
12Inishbofin, Omey, Turbot Islands SPA4231Galway08/05/2013Partly Successful
13Inishbofin, Omey, Turbot Islands SPA4231Galway08/05/2013Successful
14Inishbofin, Omey, Turbot Islands SPA4231Galway15/05/2013Unsuccessful
15Lough Derg (Shannon) SPA4058Galway08/05/2014Unsuccessful
16Lough Derg (Shannon) SPA4058Clare11/06/2014Unsuccessful
17Falcarragh to Meenlaragh SPA4149Donegal17/04/2014Successful

Air Services Provision

 621. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if the tendering for services and aerodrome management between the Aran Islands and Inishbofin and Cleggan, County Galway, will be separated to encourage the use of the latter facilities for north west Connemara, County Galway. [3928/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The aerodromes on the Aran Islands and at Cleggan and Inishbofin are currently under one management contract. This contract will end on 30 September 2015. My Department is currently seeking tenders from consultants to assist it in relation to the procurement process for this contract as well as the Aran Islands air service contract.

My Department has no plans at this time to seek separate contracts for the management of the Aran Islands and the Cleggan and Inishbofin aerodromes. It is my Department’s view that this process will not interfere with any future plans to dispose of the aerodromes at Cleggan and Inishbofin.


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