Week’s events; Dine in Dublin, Northside Dublin Attractions, new fleet for Bus Eireann & a fitter Ireland

17th January, 2016

As the economy continues to grow there are more demands on some of our services. Public transport is one of them. This week I launched the ‘Fleet of the Future’ for Bus Éireann, which is being funded by my Department via the NTA, and which provides €50 million for an additional 116 buses. These will be rolled out across the country in the coming months and will deliver a more modern, reliable and comfortable fleet. Government investment such as this is designed to make public transport even more attractive and to encourage people to leave the car at home.


Another drive by Government, which will encourage people to ditch the car in favour of an alternative is the National Physical Activity Plan, which I launched with Ministers Ring, Varadkar and Lynch this week. The first initiative of its kind, the Plan aims to reduce sedentary behaviour and motivate people to become more active. The goal is to increase the number of people taking regular exercise by 1% a year over ten years –an increase of around 50,000 people every year or half a million in total. Through school and community initiatives, as well as information campaigns, we will get more people moving over time. This will have a positive impact on the nation’s physical and mental wellbeing while also reducing the pressure on our health services due to obesity related conditions.


I launched a brilliant tourism initiative too this week which brings the best of Dublin’s Northside Attractions (DNA) together under one umbrella organisation. This will ensure they have a greater impact as a cohesive unit than they would by working independently. Some of our most popular attractions – like the Botanic Gardens and the Old Jameson Distillery are on the northside.  This Alliance will highlight other attractions that are located in the area and sends a strong message to tourists and Dubliners alike about everything the northside has to offer.


I also launched the Dine in Dublin Festival on Tuesday which provides a brilliant opportunity for people to revisit old haunts or explore newer restaurants in the city. Our restaurant sector is exceptionally vibrant right now, having gone through a difficult period when the economy collapsed. This festival allows us celebrate all that is good about the Dublin culinary scene and gives us a great excuse to try the excellent quality food it is producing – at a reduced price.


I spoke in the Dáil on flooding and the impact it has had on our people and the damage it has inflicted on our roads and other infrastructure. I also had a Commencement Matters in the Seanad week on traffic in Galway and bridges in Leitrim/Donegal.


I was pleased to sign into law an agreement for mutual exchange of driving licences between Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland & Labrador this week too. This follows an exchange arrangement which was launched with Ontario in 2014 and with Manitoba in 2015.  Work is ongoing by the RSA with the authorities of other Canadian provinces with a view to reaching similar agreements in the future. I look forward to these being progressed in the months and years ahead.


I also launched my election campaign in the constituency this week in the brilliant Generator Hostel in Smithfield. The turnout was great and the energy was high as people wait expectantly in anticipation of the day the Taoiseach goes to the Phoenix Park to dissolve the Dáil. The team in Dublin Central is ready and determined to deliver the best campaign outlining Fine Gael’s long-term plan to keep the economic recovery going.