Week’s events; Roads, tourism, Leap app and Dublin Action Plan for Jobs

29th January, 2016

A busy week in the Department, as is customary, with roads and tourism the dominant issues. On Tuesday, I announced a €298million investment programme for regional and local roads for the year.  This will allow close to 2,000kms of road to be maintained and 2,000 kms to be strengthened, which is key to supporting our increasing economic activity.  Minister Howlin and I also announced that the €230 million N25 New Ross Bypass PPP project came to a financial close. This means that work can begin on this much needed project which will improve connectivity, reduce traffic congestion and provide economic benefits for the south east.


I also made a special allocation of €106 million available, through agreement with Minister Howlin, which will be used to assist Local Authorities in dealing with road and bridge repairs following recent flood and storm damage. The scale of the damage and the disruption to people’s lives in recent weeks and months has been immense. While this funding cannot undo what was done it will be sufficient to repair all the roads impacted by the floods and to undertake preventative works in some areas so that the chances of this happening again can be minimised.


Later in the week, Minister Ring and I launched the Tourism Action Plan, which outlines 23 measures to drive growth in the sector over the next three years. This is essentially an implementation plan that follows on from the Tourism Policy we launched last year, which aims to increase the numbers working in the sector by 50,000 by 2025. It will also look at issues such as hotel capacity in Dublin, the skills shortage that exists in some areas and how we can maximise technology and sport in tourism so that the sector can operate to its full potential.


This week we had some remarkable news in that area as the CSO noted the best year ever on record for Irish tourism. This saw an increase of nearly 14% or 1 million extra visits here last year compared to the previous one. That plays a significant role in our economy recovery, which the Government is working hard to support.


I also launched the Dublin Action Plan for Jobs with Minister Bruton and An Tanaiste in Clonshaugh, the aim of which is to create an additional 66,000 jobs over the coming years. This is in addition to the 64,000+ people in Dublin who are back to work since the launch of our Action Plan for Jobs in 2012.


I helped the National Transport Authority to launch a new Leap card app, which will allow users to check their balance and top-up easily, making public transport even more attractive. Finally, I was in the Seanad this week with the Road Traffic Bill 2016 and the Public Transport Bill 2015 and I called on the people of Stoneybatter, Sheriff Street and North Wall across the week to say hello and offer any assistance I can with problems they may have.