To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his plans to introduce a national accreditation programme for car mechanics; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The introduction of a national accreditation programme for car mechanics does not fall under the remit of my Department.
In general, Further Education and Training awards, the validation of education and training programmes, and the National Framework of Qualifications are administered by Quality and Qualifications Ireland, which falls under the aegis of the Minister for Education and Skills.
To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his contacts with Dublin city council in relation to the plans to pedestrianise College Green, Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport however I am not involved in the day-to-day development of public transport or sustainable transport interventions, including the specific plans for College Green.
As the Deputy may be aware Dublin City Council and the NTA jointly published the Dublin City Centre Transport Study in 2015 which sets out the various measures proposed for the city centre to ensure the efficient functioning of transport with the city centre. Those two bodies, in collaboration with Dublin Bus and TII, are progressively implementing the measures set out in that document to enable the continued development and growth of the city.
The College Green Plaza proposal is being progressed by Dublin City Council whilst the regulation of traffic flows including pedestrians, cyclists, taxis, buses and the Luas, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), both agencies under the aegis of my Department, and Dublin City Council.
In advance of the City Council's plaza proposal being formally determined by An Bord Pleanala, the NTA have collaborated with Dublin Bus and Dublin City Council to reduce bus vehicle volumes passing through the area, in order to allow city centre junctions and signals to function more effectively. The NTA, TII and Dublin City Council also continue to collaborate on provisions for pedestrians and cyclists in relation to the Luas tracks. These parties continue to work together to ensure that the Dublin City Centre Transport Study in 2015 measures, including the plaza proposal, enhances the city centre environment, including for users of all transport modes.
* To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the status of the extension of the DART to Balbriggan, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the status of the DART interconnector and DART underground; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien T.D.
As the Deputy is aware, the National Transport Authority's (NTA) "Transport Strategy for the GDA 2016-2035" proposes implementation of the overall DART Expansion Programme. The Government’s budgetary framework for capital investment, "Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021", funding was allocated to progress a number of key public transport projects in the NTA's strategy including the DART Expansion Programme.
The DART Expansion Programme has a key role to play in delivering an efficient transport system. When fully implemented the enhancements to the heavy rail system provided for in the NTA's Transport Strategy, will create a full metropolitan area DART network for Dublin with all of the lines linked and connected. This integrated rail network will provide the core high capacity transit system for the region and will deliver a very substantial increase in peak-hour capacity on all lines from Drogheda, Maynooth, Celbridge/Hazelhatch and Greystones.
The original cost of the overall DART Expansion Programme (including the DART Underground Tunnel element) was estimated at €4 billion, of which €3 billion was in respect of the tunnel as originally designed. The Government decided in September 2015 that the original proposal for the tunnel should be redesigned to provide a lower cost solution. The NTA has been working with Irish Rail on a revised proposal. In the meantime and enabled by significant investment to upgrade signalling and turn-back facilities in the critical city centre area, work was undertaken to upgrade and re-open the Phoenix Park Tunnel in late 2016. This was identified by the NTA as an opportunity in the short term, at modest cost, to bring commuters from the west and south west to the city centre and beyond, and to enable enhanced integration of public transport services for the passenger.
Following the Mid-Term Review of Capital priorities, Budget 2018 increased the multi-annual capital investment funding envelopes for the coming four-year period, including providing an enhanced capital envelope of €2.7 billion for Ireland's public transport investment between 2018 and 2021. This enhanced capital envelope includes funding in the order of €230 million for mainline rail and DART capacity enhancement and will allow acceleration of the initial stages of the overall DART Expansion Programme, focussing particularly at this stage on providing additional fleet to enhance capacity, and extending the electrified DART system. Specifically, it will allow substantial progress on electrification of the Northern rail line as far as Balbriggan - now expected to be delivered in 2022 - and commencing work on the Maynooth line. Planning for longer term investment will form part of the National Development Plan which is the Government's overall 10-year investment plan which we will be launching later this week alongside the new National Planning Framework for the period to 2040.
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the amount his department has spent on temporary accommodation for a school (details supplied) in each of the years 2000 to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) St Mologa's National School, Balbriggan, Co Dublin,
I wish to advise the Deputy that details of expenditure on temporary accommodation, at the school referred to, are available on my Department’s Financial Management System from 2003. The details of any costs incurred between 2000 and 2003 cannot be readily located. The available information is set out in the table below. I wish to advise that the amounts include both rental and buy-out costs of temporary accommodation approved for the school.
* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the allocation of new gardaí to the Dublin metropolitan region, specifically to Swords, Malahide, Lusk and Balbriggin Garda stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
The Garda Stations of Swords, Balbriggan, Malahide and Lusk are all located in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) North Division. I am informed by the Commissioner that the Garda strength of the D.M.R. North Division on 31 December 2017 was 670 with 45 Garda Reserves and 39 Garda civilian staff also attached to the Division. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.
As Minister Stanton outlined earlier today in the Dáil, the Garda College in Templemore was closed in 2010. It was closed by the then Government because of the severe and catastrophic economic crisis that the country was plunged into. The closure of the College and the moratorium imposed at that time has obviously had an impact on numbers in An Garda Síochána. When the last Government came into office, the initial focus was on stabilising the public finances and then returning the country to growth. Once that had been achieved, one of the Government’s first actions was to re-open the Garda College in Templemore.
I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, of whom 123 have been assigned to the D.M.R. North Division with 15 and 23 assigned to Swords and Balbriggan Garda stations respectively. I am pleased to say that Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 - a net increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.
I am also pleased that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment in the Garda workforce to ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. This year a further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College. Also 800 Garda trainees are scheduled to attest during the year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, reach 14,000 by the end of 2018.
In addition, a further 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties. There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training in 2018.
This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Division, including the D.M.R. North Division.
In so far as the allocation of newly attested Gardaí is concerned, this is a matter for the Commissioner. I am assured by the Commissioner that the needs of all Garda Divisions are fully considered when determining the allocation of resources. However, it is important to keep in mind that newly attested Gardaí have a further 16 months of practical and class-room based training to complete in order to receive their BA in Applied Policing. To ensure that they are properly supported and supervised and have opportunities to gain the breadth of policing experience required, the Commissioner's policy is to allocate them to specially designated training stations which have the required training and development structures and resources in place, including trained Garda tutors and access to a permanently appointed supervisory Sergeant who is thoroughly familiar with their responsibilities under the training programme. I am informed that Lusk and Malahide Garda Stations are not training stations therefore new probationer Gardaí are not allocated to either station. However, it is important to note that the allocation of probationer Gardaí to a Divisional training station facilitates the reassignment of Gardaí to other stations within the Division, if required, by the Divisional Officer.
I know the Deputy had an opportunity to discuss these issues with Minister of State Stanton earlier this evening.
To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the reopening of Rush Garda station; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The former Garda station at Rush Co. Dublin is in the full ownership of the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland. The station was closed on 29th April 2012 as part of the rationalisation programme of An Garda Síochána, as announced in the 2012 Policing Plan.
The Commissioners of Public Works licensed the former Garda Station at Rush to Rush Musical Society and Rush Community Council for a period of five years, commencing on 9th February 2015. Under the terms of the licence, the Commissioners reserve the right to terminate the Licence at any time by giving one month’s written notice to the Licensees.
The Office of Public Works is currently engaging with An Garda Síochána in relation to their final brief of requirements, which will facilitate a full assessment of the extent of works required, the cost and the timeframe for reopening.
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