Friday 11 August 2017
Transport, Tourism and Sport is a wide-ranging brief, one I was delighted to accept in May 2016. A priority was to reduce the disturbing rise in road deaths. The Road Traffic Bill 2016 was passed into law on 27th December. More recently the Road Traffic (amendment) Bill 2017 which has already been approved by Cabinet will come before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the autumn. Work has also commenced on a Bill which will ‘name and shame’ disqualified drivers and my Department is working closely with the RSA, road traffic victims groups and other stakeholders to promote safer roads for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
The tourism industry grew for the sixth year in a row, with 2016 a record year for visitor numbers. There were a total of 9,584,400 visits in 2016, an increase of 10.9% compared to 2015. Passenger numbers through Irish Airports rose to 33m, an increase of 10% on 2015. In these times of uncertainty, ensuring that our airports are prepared for the longer term is more important than ever and in September 2016 I announced a Review of the Capacity Needs for Ireland’s State Airports. This Review will analyse, for each of the three State airports (Dublin, Cork and Shannon), the capacity requirements to 2050. This will include, In the case of Dublin Airport only, recommendations on the timeframe for the development of new terminal capacity – Terminal 3 –and its appropriate design, management and optimum location.
Public Transport passenger numbers also continued their increase, with a 5% expansion in passenger numbers across Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. Over 1.76m passenger journeys on 242,000 transport services were funded under the Rural Transport Programme. The Luas Cross City project remains within budget and is currently on target for completion in late 2017.
There were 736 allocations in the 2016 round of the Sports Capital Programme which totalled €40m. Significant progress was made in the development of facilities at the National Sport Campus, with work on the National Indoor Arena substantially completed in December 2016. Ireland hosts the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup and as Minister for Sport I am very happy to have assisted the IRFU in preparing a very comprehensive, strong and competitive bid for the Men’s Rugby 2023 World Cup, a bid which has the full support of government and other political parties.
The increase in the number of cyclists on our roads is welcome but presents new challenges. Therefore in July, 2016 the Department awarded approx. €3.5m. in funding to the local authorities in Meath, Kildare, Westmeath and Longford for greenway projects within their counties from a reallocation of National Cycle Network funding from projects unable to maximise drawdown of allocated funding during 2016.
Global warming presents huge challenges for all of us and the Climate Change Unit was established in 2016 to co-ordinate this Department’s policy response In 2016, under a statutory obligation in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, the Unit contributed to the development of a National Mitigation Plan with particular emphasis on the transport sector.
The report has been published in both English and Irish on the Department’s website: http://www.dttas.ie/corporate/english/annual-report-0