Minister Shane Ross was appointed as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on 6th May 2016.
Achievements and priorities of Minister Ross at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
The Minister’s priorities for his term of office are contained in but not confined to, those set out in the Programme for Partnership Government. His immediate priority is managing the many day-to-day issues facing the transport, tourism and sport sectors while at the time same time planning and managing the medium and longer term issues, including the implementation of the Government’s commitments.
The Department Statement of Strategy sets out the main objectives and actions of the Minister’s Department over the period 2016 -2019 and is available in Irish and English here
To date, since May 2016, there has been
· a continuing growth in tourism numbers with the latest CSO statistics showing an increase of 12% in overseas visits to Ireland for the first nine months of 2016 compared to the same period of 2015. The challenge for the Minister, Minister of State O’Donovan, the Government, the tourism agencies and the tourism sector is to provide the supports necessary to maintain this growth.
· an allocation of additional funding to support rural communities by assisting in rural tourism and transport:
· an additional allocation of €850,000 to the Rural Transport Programme in 2016, to bring the total allocation for 2016 to over €14.5m (an increase of 20% on 2015) and an increase of €2.19m in funding for the Programme in 2017. This funding will support the existing services and the development of new routes benefiting in particular older people and those vulnerable to social isolation.
· allocation of €2.7 million in funding support for the four regional airports in Donegal, Ireland West Airport Knock, Kerry and Waterford.
· allocation of almost €1.5m in funding from Fáilte Ireland’s Capital Grants Allocation for 2016 for key projects along the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East.
· funding for greenway projects in Kildare, Meath, Longford and Westmeath totalling in excess of €3.5m in support the local economy.
· The securing of €1.8billion for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Vote for 2017 which represents a €72m or over 4% increase on 2016, including an increase of 7% to €1.46 billion in the land transport programme.
In light of the worrying increase in road fatalities this year to date, the Minister will be progressing measures to enhance road safety, in particular the enactment of the Road Traffic Bill 2016 by end-2016. This will strengthen the law in relation to drug driving and other road traffic matters.
· Initiation of EU requirements relating to the imposition of noise related operating restrictions at airports.
· Significant progress made in consultation mechanisms for engaging with aviation sector stakeholders and in advancing agenda of the National Civil Aviation Development Forum
· Initiating work on the review of capacity at State Airports, with particular on the possible need for additional terminal capacity at Dublin Airport.
· Regional Airports Programme.
- Increased funding for Roads, PSO and Rural Transport in Budget 2017.
- Funding for the replacement and renewal of the PSO fleet with some 110 buses for the Dublin region fleet in 2017 and over 70 buses for the Bus Eireann fleet.
- Ensuring increased accessibility to all passengers using the transport network.
- Commenceed the Mid-Term Review of the Road Safety Strategy.
- Developing a new strategy to set out a cohesive and forward-looking approach to the development, funding and promotion of Greenways.
- Opening Phoenix Park Tunnel & Luas Cross City (2017).
· Transfer of Wicklow Port to Wicklow County Council
· Further reform of Port control as per the National Ports Policy
Sport & Tourism
· Increase in the Tourism Marketing Budget (€1M secured for Budget 2017).
· RWC 2023 Bid.
· Open Consultation on a National Sport Policy Framework Q4 2016, to lead to National Sport Policy Framework.
· Sports Capital Programme for 2017.
· Continued progress on the National Sports Campus.
· Development of the Lakelands Concept.
· Further implementation of the Tourism Action Plan.
(to achieve overseas visitors revenue of approximately €5billion, growing employment in the tourism sector to 250,000 and increasing the number of visits to Ireland to 10 million.)