December 17, 2015
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the discussions his Department has had with the management of the Port of Waterford Company regarding accessing funding through European Union regional development funding, or any State-sponsored capital infrastructural funding.
REPLY (Minister Pascahl Donohoe):
The Port of Waterford is recognised as a Port of National Significance (Tier 2) in National Ports Policy. While there is no exchequer funding provided to ports, ports are encouraged to explore all other avenues of funding available to them.
As the Deputy is aware, at a European level, the Port fulfilled the criteria for recognition as a 'comprehensive Port' in the comprehensive network of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) - a planned set of road, rail, air and water transport networks in the European Union.
Waterford Port is eligible to apply for funding through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a key EU funding instrument to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level.
Officials from my Department have met recently with Waterford Port Company to advise and encourage them to explore projects that might qualify for CEF funding.
In December, the Department facilitated a meeting between the port and officials from the Commission, the European Investment Bank and INEA (the Executive agency for CEF). In addition, the port attended a recent information session on Motorways of the Sea (MOS), a horizontal priority of the Connecting Europe Facility, hosted jointly by the Department and the European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea.
Once again, an individual meeting was facilitated between the port and the European Co-ordinator. My Department is aware that the Port of Waterford is actively exploring a joint venture with a number of partners in preparation for an application for Motorways of the Sea funding.
Waterford Port is within the South East Region for EU Structural Funding purposes and the managing authority for the Regional Operational Programme is the Southern Regional Assembly.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) co-financed Regional Operational Programmes (2014-2020) approved by the Irish Government and agreed with the European Commission in December 2014 were formally signed in Brussels in Februaury 2015.
The regional programmes focus on five thematic areas: research and innovation, enterprise development, broadband infrastructure, energy efficiency and integrated urban development.
Port infrastructure was not identified as a thematic priority for co-funding under the 2014-2020 programmes. However, the Southern Regional Assembly have advised that they are available to provide additional information and advice to the port in relation to potential future funding through the regional programmes.
December 17, 2015
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the discussions his Department has had with the management at Waterford Regional Airport regarding accessing State or European Union funding to extend the runway at the airport.
REPLY (Minister Paschal Donohue):
Funding support for capital expenditure under my Department's Regional Airports Programme is confined to safety and security related projects.
The projects being funded at Waterford airport under the Programme include the runway end safety area (RESA) as required by the IAA and safety standards. This project involved the purchase of land to facilitate the work.
Development projects, however, such as any capacity expansions, are a commercial matter for the airports themselves and should only be contemplated if they can be financed commercially. In the case of the proposed runway extension at Waterford, the airport authorities are fully aware of this position and I understand that they are pursuing local interests in relation to that project.
My Department invited all airports and other transport bodies to an Information Seminar earlier this month on the financing options under the European Union's European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the EIB.
The seminar was organised by the European Commission, the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency and the European Investment Bank. A representative from Waterford Airport attended that Seminar and also met separately with the agencies.
May 6, 2015
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is satisfied Teagasc is and will be sufficiently resourced to deliver adequate research and advisory services for the tillage sector considering the demands placed on it by the new EU greening requirements; and if he will provide a breakdown of Teagasc staff currently dedicated to tillage farming by advisory region.
REPLY (Minister Simon Coveney)
Whilst the moratorium impacted on staff levels, Teagasc retain a complement of over 1,150 staff who deliver research, advisory and education services to the agriculture and food sectors. The distribution of staff is an operational matter for Teagasc.
In light of the constraints on recruitment, Teagasc is re-configuring the way in which it delivers services to farmers through greater use of discussion groups and by leveraging more external resources through sub contracting certain activities to private providers. For example, they recently engaged an external strategic partner (FRS) to deliver GLAS planning services to Teagasc clients.
My Department continues to work closely with Teagasc to evaluate requests for mission critical appointments. Over 50 permanent appointments were authorised outside the moratorium since 2009.
A further exception to the moratorium permits Teagasc to recruit ‘non grant in aid’ funded contractors. They currently employ 190 contractors working predominately in research and advisory services. Priority has also been accorded to the recruitment of 20 temporary teachers to meet the exceptional demand for Green Cert courses from young farmers.
It is anticipated that the new Delegated Sanction arrangements may provide greater discretion to Government Departments and state agencies over staffing levels, but strictly within an overall pay framework.
Those arrangements are currently being considered in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform . Within the parameters of that over arching policy, the question of where posts are filled remains an operational matter for Teagasc.
Feb 3, 2015
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the National Rare Disease Plan for Ireland 2014-2018; and the number of times the Oversight Implementation Group has met since the plan's publication in July 2014.
REPLY (Minister Leo Varadkar):
One of the principal recommendations in the National Rare Disease Plan was the establishment of a National Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases. This programme will be responsible for, among others:
The establishment of a National Rare Disease Office featured prominently in the recommendations of the Rare Disease plan. The HSE is in the process of establishing such a national office. It will, among other functions, provide up-to-date information regarding new treatment and management options, including clinical trials.
Meanwhile, the HSE and the EU Commission plan to fund jointly a rare disease post of Information Scientist in the HSE with a number of recommendations in mind. These refer to rare disease registries and the utility of data currently captured in health information systems.
The Health Identifiers Bill - the publication of which was recommended in the plan - has now been enacted. A similar recommendation on the Health Information Bill is being advanced.
My officials have convened a number of informal meetings with some members of the National Steering Group on Rare Diseases. I expect that a formal Oversight Implementation Group will be established in the near future.