Week’s events: 1st Oral PQs as Minister, London’s Flavours of Ireland, NSMC meeting, History of Trams expo

6th October, 2014

This week I had my first Oral PQs in the Dáil as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, which was a great honour. Topics stemming from the tendering public transport routes and the financial situation at CIE, to the Direction I issued to the Commission for Aviation Regulation in respect of airport chargers; and road safety issues featured. I enjoyed the exchanges with my Dáil colleagues and the robust debate that ensued on matters of concern to us all.


On Wednesday and Thursday I was in London for Tourism Ireland’s Flavours of Ireland event. This networking showcase brings around 50 tourism businesses from Ireland together with more than 100 UK inbound tour operators from long-haul destinations, such as China, in an attempt to grow Ireland’s market share of global tourism. It was an exceptionally successful event with many new contacts made and more established ones cemented. While the tourism figures have been steadily growing on the back of policies implemented by Government, we cannot afford to take our eye off the ball for a second in continuing to promote Ireland overseas and encouraging people to consider Ireland when making travel plans.


I also attended the 18th plenary meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) which was held at Dublin Castle. This brought Ministers from both sides of the border together to discuss issues of mutual concern. The Irish Government was led by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, who chaired the meeting and the Northern Ireland Executive was led by First Minister, the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA and the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MLA.  Discussions took place on our economies, how our employment figures are faring and how they can be improved. Tourism featured in this context and I spoke about progress we are making in this area.


On Friday afternoon, I was at the opening of The History of Trams in Dublin; an exhibition in Clerys Department Store Heritage Museum, which is sponsored by Luas Cross City and curated by the Little Museum of Dublin. While there I received the news that National Bus and Railway Union members voted to accept the Labour Relations Commission’s proposals that had been agreed by unions and managements at Irish Rail some weeks back. SIPTU had voted in favour earlier in the day. This news was very welcome and I acknowledged the contribution made by workers in the resolution of this dispute and the efforts of the LRC in bring it to a conclusion.


Good news on the Exchequer and Live Register figures this week as employment decreased for the 27th month in a row, tax revenue registered ahead of target and expenditure is in line with expectation. As we approach Budget time, there is much speculation about what lies ahead. What is certain, however, is that nothing will be done to jeopardise our recovery or to put at stake all that the Irish people have sacrificed in recent years.


Called on the people of East Wall this week to hear about their issues and to see what I can raise for them.