Week’s events: Shannon Foynes Port Co; 20km/h speed limit, FG National Conference 2015

20th February, 2015

This week began with a visit to Limerick and an announcement of capital investment of €50 million by the Shannon Foynes Port Company over the next seven years. The first phase of this investment sees €12 million being spent on the infilling of the East Jetty in Foynes; a project that will employ 150 during construction over the next 12 months. Separate announcements by the private sector of totalling €26 million were also made demonstrating great confidence in the port’s and its ability to grow in the future.  While I was in Limerick I launched the roll-out of the Leap card. This gives users, Shannonside, a chance to avail of 20% off the cash fare and sees Limerick joining Cork and Galway cities, as well as the greater Dublin Area, with plans already afoot to roll the scheme out in Waterford in mid-2015.


This week in the Dáil I also had Private members Time which dealt with a Bill proposed by Sinn Fein in respect of Jake’s Law and the mandatory imposition of a speed limit in residential areas, following on from the death of little Jake Brennan and the mounting of the Jake’s Legacy campaign, the members of which I have met numerous times since coming to Office.


On foot of the Bill, I committed to the introduction of a 20km/h speed limit option, which is to be set down in primary legislation and which can be used by Local Authorities in housing estates and on residential roads in a bid to reduce speed and protect vulnerable road users, especially children at play. The responsibility of setting speed limits in local areas lies with Local Authorities who are best placed to determine the appropriate speed limit to be applied. In respect of setting mandatory speed limits for residential roads, the difficulty lies in being able to legally define what exactly a residential road is. In many instances, residential roads are also major traffic thoroughfares and it may not be appropriate to designate these as 20 or 30 km/h zones. I have also recently made €2 million available to assist Local Authorities in implementing lower speed limits and I am committed to doing what is needed to ensure greater use of lower speed limits in residential areas.


The rest of the week was filled with Oireachtas business from Topical Issues in the Dáil on the future of the Aer Lingus Board in the event of a take-over by IAG, to proposals for the N6 Galway City Transport Project. In the Seanad I took a Commencement Order in respect of PSO funding for Bus Éireann. I also addressed the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions in respect of the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace by the US military.


This afternoon I travelled to Castlebar for the Fine Gael National Conference, which will see a focus on securing the recovery with 2,500 delegates and 325 public reps attending. That recovery is fragile and incomplete and there is much more to be done to secure it. We are up to the challenge of creating 40,000 more jobs this year, following on from the 80,000 created since the Action plan for Jobs was implemented, and to getting Ireland back to full employment by 2018.