Questions for the Minister for Transport

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Dáil Issues, Transport Tourism and Sport

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason the initiative proposed on 2 December 2014 by the Secretary General of his Department and the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, to the Expert Panel in relation to the IASS dispute, was not actioned until 14 January 2015 creating needless anxiety to workers at the three State airports; and if he will direct the DAA/Shannon Airport Authority to lift the imposed deadline of 15 March 2015 on signing waivers to allow the process to take place.
– Clare Daly.

Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Paschal Donohoe

REPLY
Firstly, I must again make it clear that the IASS and its funding are primarily matters for the Trustees, the companies participating in the scheme, the scheme members and the Pensions Authority.

Following SIPTU’s recommendation last November to its members in DAA/Shannon Airport Authority to reject the IASS Trustee proposal, the Secretarys General of my Department and of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation wrote to the Expert Panel on 2 December in relation to clarifying certain industrial relations issues which were the subject of the Expert Panel report completed last June.  The Expert Panel wasasked to re-engage with SIPTU and ICTU and to provide clarity on those matters.  There were discussions immediately before Christmas between the Departments, members of the Expert Panel and ICTU in relation to this engagement which helped to refine the areas of focus for the Panel.

Given the unavailability of the relevant personnel over the holiday period I understand that it was just after Christmas before arrangements could be agreed for the Expert Panel to engage with ICTU and to establish the relevant position of the unions involved and the DAA/SAA.   That process is ongoing and it is for the Panel to complete this work as effectively and efficiently as possible.  Given that the Trustees’ proposal was implemented with effect from 31 December, it is vital that the industrial relations issues among certain daa/SAA staff are resolved as soon as possible.

In that regard, the deadline of 15 March 2015 for the signing of waivers is a matter for the DAA/SAA.  At this stage, it is important that there is clarity on the areas of concern so that IASS members, along with all other DAA/SAA staff, have visibility and certainty on their future pension arrangements.

Dáil Question
No: 141

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views following the latest Garda report revealing widespread continued breaches in the penalty point system, in view of the importance of the system operating correctly in the interests of road safety and the need for all drivers to have confidence in the system.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 3rd February, 2015.

Ref No:
4332/15 Lottery: 15
Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Paschal Donohoe

REPLY
The fixed charge and penalty point system is an important element of our overall road safety strategy and the Government will ensure that the most effective and equitable system is in place to maintain public confidence in the system.
In January 2015, the Garda Professional Standards Unit concluded a report following its examination of the Procedures, Policy and Decision Making Processes in relation to cancellations in the Fixed Charge Processing System. The examination was carried out following concerns expressed regarding certain cancellation decisions within the System. While the findings and conclusions of the Report are matters appropriately to be addressed by An Gardaí  Siochána and the Department of Justice and Equality, some of the recommendations contained impact on the functions of my Department. The recommendations are being studied within my Department at present, in consultation with the Criminal Justice Working Group, and they will be advanced as appropriate.
Dáil Question
No: 142

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will reject the International Airlines Group takeover bid for Aer Lingus, in the interests of maintaining the future of the airline, it’s jobs and key strategic role in providing connectivity with the rest of the world for business and tourism.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 3rd February, 2015.

Ref No:
4333/15 Lottery: 16
Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Paschal Donohoe

REPLY
I refer the Deputy to my reply to today’s Priority PQs 123 and 124 concerning the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus and  the recent approaches from IAG.

Dáil Question
No: 151

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the six short listed schemes in the Fingal/north Dublin Transport study Appraisal Report; and when there will be a long overdue high capacity light rail public transport solution serving the Swords-Dublin Airport-Dublin City Corridor.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 3rd February, 2015.

Ref No:
4335/15 Lottery: 25
Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Paschal Donohoe

REPLY
The Fingal/North Dublin study currently underway is an independent study commissioned by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to identify the optimum  long term public transport solution to the meet the needs  of the corridor.
Phase One of the Study was published on 8th December and six short-listed project options were identified for further detailed evaluation. A public consultation process was also launched at that time. Under the next stage, the six shortlisted projects will be subject to further analysis assessing cost, engineering, environmental and usage forecasts. This will form the basis for the selection of the recommended preferred option.
The NTA has indicated that they expect to have the output of this next phase of the Study available to me at the end of March. That output will then require careful consideration in tandem with other analyses being undertaken, including the updating of a business case for the DART Underground project and the work being carried out in the preparation of a draft Transport Strategy for the GDA.  I anticipate that I will finalise this review by mid-year, in conjunction with the development of the transport strategy for the region.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the proposed shortlisted projects. Moreover pending the outcome of the study it would be premature to comment on the timeline for delivery of the preferred  project.
Dáil Question
No: 156

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views in relation to whether he is satisfied with existing arrangements between his Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the processing of exemptions for carriage of munitions of war on civil aircraft under the Air Navigation (Carriage of munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973, and his plans to change the present system.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 3rd February, 2015.

Ref No:
4331/15 Lottery: 30
Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Paschal Donohoe

REPLY
I am satisfied that the existing arrangements, which provide for consultation between my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are operating satisfactorily. My Department consults the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on matters of foreign policy on all exemption applications under the 1973 Order.

If that Department has any objections or concerns on grounds of foreign policy, an exemption is not granted.

Dáil Question
No: 158

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the contact his Department has had with Aer Lingus and the Shannon Airport Authority regarding the way different actuarial assumptions were used in both companies in their recent proposals for future pension provision; and his views regarding same.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 3rd February, 2015.

Ref No:
4334/15 Lottery: 32
Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Paschal Donohoe

REPLY
In the context of the Trustee funding proposal for the Irish Airlines (General Employees) Superannuation Scheme (IASS), reference to the actuarial assumptions was included in the Expert Panel report of June 2014. At the request of my Department and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Expert Panel was asked to re-engage with SIPTU and ICTU in relation to matters dealt with in its report, including the actuarial assumptions, and to provide clarity on those matters.  There were also discussions immediately before Christmas between the Departments, members of the Expert Panel and ICTU in relation to this engagement which helped to refine the areas of focus for the Panel.  The Department is in contact with DAA and SAA has been kept informed on relevant matters throughout.

That process is ongoing at present and it is for the Panel to complete its work as effectively and efficiently as possible in providing the clarifications sought.  In light of the fact that the Trustees proposal aimed at addressing the significant deficit in the scheme was implemented with effect from 31 December 2014, it is now vital that the industrial relations issues among certain DAA/SAA staff are resolved as soon possible.