Week’s events; Penalty points legislation, tourism look-back and ambitions for 2015 & investment in our roads

22nd December, 2014

Much of this week was given over to the amending legislation I was bringing through the Dáil and the Seanad in respect of the application of penalty points and a loophole identified in recent legislation.  In recognition of the seriousness of road safety and the need to ensure the integrity of the penalty points system there was broad cross-Party support for the Bill, which I was grateful for and which I am confident is robust enough to withstand legal challenge. As we near the end of 2014 and the Christmas period, our thoughts turn to those who have lost loved ones through road accidents and the pressing need to reduce the number of needless deaths through road accidents. This is a priority of mine for 2015 and one which I intend to give my full attention.


Mid-week, I met with Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland to look back on 2014 and ahead to 2015 in terms of the number of overseas visitors we are attracting to Ireland.  Tourism is one of our greatest success stories of the last number of years, in no small part due to the hard work of the industry and the policies pursued by Government.  This year we have welcomed 7.3 million visitors to our shores which is an increase of +8.8% on 2013. In terms of how that has impacted on our economy, those visits have contributed almost €3.6 billion in revenue, which is a rise of 9% year on year. It is critical that we build on this success, ensure the continuation of value for money for visitors, as well as for Irish people, and that we continue to implement the policies that best support our economic recovery.


On Thursday, I welcomed the €184 million allocation that is being made by the National Roads Authority to Local Authorities for improvement and maintenance works for our national road network. It is essential that we continue to make whatever funding we can available for the delivery of new roads and the upkeep of the ones we already have. If people are impeded from getting from A to B, this will hamper our economic development and ultimately threaten jobs. This allocation is in addition to a recent announcement of €60 million over the next three years for minor works to be carried out. Investment of this nature will improve driving conditions for motorists, accessibility for local communities and will help in further boosting economic activity.


I also met with SIPTU, NBRU and TSSA bus unions to discuss concerns they have on the opening up of 10% of the bus market to competitive tender. I am deeply committed to a well-funded public transport system that delivers for service users. I also believe that the opening up of the market in this way will lead to enhanced competition and enhanced services for commuters.


I met with members of the Dublin Dock Workers Preservation Society and Dublin Port Company officials this week to discuss plans to preserve the history of the Dublin docks and in particular the establishment of a Heritage Centre in the docklands. I also met with residents of the Sheridan Court housing complex on Dorset Street to discuss issues of particular concern relating to cleanliness and policing matters.