Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
I am sure Deputies will expect me to mention Tallaght at some point in my contribution and I certainly intend to do so. The Public Transport Regulation Bill 2009 is an important piece of our public transport regulation infrastructure. We have waited several decades for its introduction and I commend the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, on his initiative. He visited Tallaght recently but I did not have the opportunity to meet him due to parliamentary business. I am always happy to welcome Ministers to Tallaght.
The Bill proposes a number of important changes to public transport regulation. It reforms the existing bus route licensing regime, extends the public transport route procurement scheme for the greater Dublin area to the rest of the country, transforms the Dublin Transport Authority into the national transport authority and merges it with the Commission for Taxi Regulation. It also gives the national transport authority a consultative role in future regional planning guidelines.
As a born and bred Dubliner, I have no country blood. I bring to my politics the perspective of what happens in Dublin. Between 1994 and 2003 I sat on Dublin County Council and, later, South Dublin County Council, during which time I took a particular interest in transport issues. I was also a council nominee to the Dublin Transportation Office. As someone who lives about eight miles out of the city in Tallaght, I try to use public transport as much as possible. Next Saturday I intend to use the Luas to go to Croke Park in order to cheer the Irish soccer team, captained by a Tallaght man, Robbie Keane. The team also includes Richard Dunne.
I support the revitalisation of the transport system throughout the Dublin region. When I was very small I witnessed tram tracks being pulled up. Deputy Chris Andrews reminded us that Todd Andrews was in charge when the Harcourt line closed. I often wonder about the thinking behind that decision.
We are now trying to improve public transport services. The recent controversy about the College Green bus gate puts the debate into perspective. We should be trying to encourage people to take public transport to work and for shopping and social activities. The Luas has transformed Tallaght, not only by bringing people to Tallaght hospital, the Square and Shamrock Rovers’ stadium but also by facilitating people who want to access town.
That is not to imply that bus services are unimportant, however. I am a member of the Dublin Bus community forum for Tallaght, which meets on a monthly basis in Killinarden. The forum is a partnership between Dublin Bus unions and management, the Garda and the community, including public representatives. It was founded at a time when Tallaght, like other regions, had difficulties with anti-social behaviour on buses. The withdrawal of bus services should be a last resort for any Dublin community. I condemn vandalism and anti-social behaviour but we need to maintain bus services. I appreciate the work done by the forum in that regard.
I have often been critical of the services provided by Dublin Bus. I understand it is reviewing its services, in which regard I listened carefully to the Minister’s contribution on Private Members’ business last night. I represent not only Tallaght but also Templeogue, Greenhills, Firhouse, Bohernabreena and Brittas. Constituents from these areas have made regular representations about bus services. The management of Dublin Bus should be more innovative in providing bus services. I lamented the passing of the local service which took small buses into estates. It is a pity the service was lost. A fine, innovative project has been introduced in Belfast involving a partnership between public transport services and local taxis. Under this initiative, taxi drivers pick up fares in housing estates and bring their passengers to the local bus route. The possibility of introducing a similar project in Dublin, particularly Tallaght, should be examined.
As a Government Deputy, I am not afraid to state that progress must be made on the introduction of integrated ticketing. One should be able to board a bus or Luas tram and change to another form of public transport using the same ticket. I travelled to London in August to watch a couple of matches, both of which involved Irish players. One can buy a ticket for use on the underground and buses. I cannot understand the reason this cannot be done here. It is time we had integrated ticketing in Dublin.
The Acting Chairman, Deputy Noel O’Flynn, and Minister of State, Deputy Haughey, will be surprised that I raise the issue of rural transport. Members of the Irish Farmers Association wondered why I attended their lobby meeting earlier. There are, however, farmers and a rural community in Tallaght. Members who are familiar with the area will be aware that those living in Bohernabreena and the general hill area do not have access to public transport. The Department and Ministers find it strange when I contact them to argue for the introduction of a rural transport service in parts of Tallaght. People living in rural areas adjacent to large urban centres should be able to access public transport services. I will continue to knock on the doors of the Ministers for Transport and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs because this service must be provided. As I stated, my country cousins will be surprised to hear me speak on behalf of people living in rural areas. It is important that transport services are provided in all areas.
The Luas has given Tallaght a major boost. The failure to join the two Luas lines in the city centre was a lost opportunity. I told successive Ministers at the time that the Luas should have gone through the estates of Tallaght west to Saggart. I am pleased work to extend the Luas to these areas is under way. Once the extension of the Luas line is complete, the delay and disruption caused in the community, specifically in my parish, will have been worthwhile. People will be able to travel to estates such as Fettercairn, Brookfield and Ardmore out to Citywest which has great facilities, including the first class services of the Citywest Hotel.
Occasionally, I go to the Point Depot to watch acts which cater to my age group, Cliff Richard, for example. When the Luas line extension is complete I will no longer have the hassle of driving into town as I will be able to take a Luas from Tallaght to the Point Depot. It is important that we support this development. As the communities located along the Luas line are aware, one must crack eggs to make a first class omelette. I am pleased the Luas line is being extended.
Many important issues have been raised in this debate. The Minister is moving in the right direction in establishing a national transport authority. The Bill contains many good measures. I hope it will pass quickly through the House.
Deputy Pat Breen: I welcome an opportunity to speak on the Public Transport Regulation Bill 2009. I listened with interest to Deputy O’Connor speaking about rural areas in Tallaght. I invite the Deputy to visit the rural areas of west Clare to see at first hand isolation and the lack of public transport. I will return to this issue later.
The Bill makes a number of important changes to public transportation regulation. It reforms the current bus route licensing regime and extends the public transport route procurement scheme introduced for the greater Dublin area to the rest of the country. It also transforms the Dublin Transport Authority into a new body, the national transport authority, which will be merged with the Commission for Taxi Regulation. The Bill gives the new national transport authority a consultative role in future regional planning guidelines. As the population increases, it is important that we plan for future transport needs. Climate change, the conservation of fuel supplies and recession mean more people will start to use public transport.
Michael O’Leary of Ryanair proved with his low cost carrier that passengers will travel anywhere if the price is right. It is important to have a good pricing system in place for public transport services, whether trains, taxis or buses.
The Bill has two main functions, namely, to update the legislation on public bus licensing and regulation and to create a new national transport regulator, the national transport authority. Any effort to streamline Government agencies will save money and improve customer service, which is always welcome, particularly in these times. Nevertheless, the Bill falls far short of what is required. The remit of the new transport authority will extend to the entire country and the authority will be responsible for commercial bus route licensing. It will also assume responsibility for the distribution of public transport subventions. As I indicated, the Commission for Taxi Regulation will be merged with the new authority.
The notes on the Bill provided by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service detail the long history of transport regulation in this country. The issue has been a topic for debate for a long time. I entered the Dáil in 2002 and was appointed deputy Fine Gael Party spokesperson on transport when the late Séamus Brennan was Minister for Transport. The regulation of public transport, including integrated ticketing which has still not been introduced, were key issues at the Joint Committee on Transport at that time.
One hears a great deal about the urban-rural divide in transport. Public transport is non-existent in many rural areas. I am disappointed the Bill does not deal with the rural transport initiative which funds transport services in rural areas. A cloud has hung over the service since the publication of the report by an bord snip. This service in rural Ireland is a lifeline, particularly for the elderly, the disabled and those without transport living in rural areas. There are many people living in rural areas who do not have transport.
When I was growing up I lived seven miles from Ennis in west Clare in Ballynacally. Each morning three or four buses served those who worked in Shannon, Ennis and Limerick. Now there is no bus service. Major changes are happening. There are many more cars on the roads. I travelled to study my third level course in Limerick, 30 miles away from my home, by public transport. I took two buses, one from my house to Ennis and another from Ennis to Limerick. I did that for three years. It was a great service. I was home every evening and it worked extremely well. The weekly fare was £2.10, which was great value for money at the time. However, many rural areas now have no bus service and are losing many more services such as post offices. Many communities are suffering as a result. The local post office in my parish of Ballynacally closed last week. This is linked to transport initiatives. Many elderly people are affected by the closure of services in rural areas and have to travel for nine, ten or 11 miles to pick up their pensions or do their shopping.
A rural transport initiative is provided by the Clare accessible transport scheme, which I commend. It has seven or eight coaches. When the report of an bord snip nua was launched a number of months ago a public rally took place in O’Connell Square in Ennis. The buses and all those in east Clare who use the transport initiative came to Ennis and invited all the public representatives to talk to them. We talked to pensioners, disabled people and those who want to get out of their houses for a day. This vital link is extremely important in rural areas, and I hope this service can be saved and will not be cut due to the shortfall in the public finances. I met a constituent at the march in Ennis from O’Callaghan’s-Mills who uses the service on a Friday to collect his pension and who said if the rural transport service was not in place he would be like a prisoner in his own home. The financing of the rural transport initiative is an issue which must be addressed to remove the uncertainty rural people are experiencing.
Bus Éireann has axed a number of routes due to the current downturn in the economic circumstances. The early morning service from Kilkee to Ennis was one of the routes which has already fallen victim to cutbacks and I understand other routes are currently under review. There has been a lot of discussion on whether the bus market should be totally liberalised and deregulated but it is important to strike a balance. There are no queues of buses ready to set up routes in rural areas and it is likely that bus services will be axed in some places as the company strives to cut costs.
The social dimension of living in rural Ireland must be addressed and we should examine whether an extension of public service routes is required in order to sustain rural communities. It cannot be all about pounds, shillings and pence; there is also a social dimension. For instance, many people are now being left to survive on their own in remote rural areas with little or no contact with the outside world. It is something on which there has been focus recently with the publication of the Road Traffic Bill and the proposal to reduce from 80 mg to 50 mg the legal limit for blood alcohol levels while driving, a proposal which will affect many people in rural Ireland. A transport initiative should be set up in conjunction with the Bill to help people who like to have a drink, want to abide by the law and go to their local pub. Local pubs in rural Ireland are closing every week. The social dimension of this issue is something we have to try to protect. It is a major issue which cannot be ignored and is something to which the Government will have to face up. Deputy O’Connor referred to Tallaght but there are no transport facilities or taxis in rural Ireland.
If the public service routes were extended, some of them could be tendered out to private bus operators, which might be more suitable as they would be able to run services using smaller buses which would be more economical and cost effective. Many such operators live in and provide a great service in rural areas. They serve people who want to go to bingo, elderly people, people who want a social dimension to their lives and football and hurling teams. Such bus operators could play a role in connecting rural villages and providing a service for people who want to avail of it.
In recent years we have seen a rise in disputes over the allocation of licences and I hope the new authority will address this issue. I have seen cases where an operator ran a service without a licence for a period of time and there was a demand for it. In some cases it did so because it was waiting for the Department of Transport to make a decision on a licence. In other cases, Bus Éireann had difficulty getting a licence for a route which it was willing to serve. The new licensing authority must make sure the system is less cumbersome, that major delays are not incurred waiting for decisions on licensing routes and, most importantly, that the system is fair and open to all.
Our public transport system lags behind many other EU countries. Integrated ticketing appears to be light years away. I compliment Iarnród Éireann on the ticketing barriers it installed at Heuston Station where one must use a ticket to gain exit from the station. When one looks at the metro and subway systems in other European capitals one can see we are light years behind. It is only in the past number of years that the Luas system came into operation, which serves only the southern part of the city. The northern part of Dublin has no Luas or metro service, but is a busy area because it is linked to Dublin Airport. We still depend on buses and taxis to take us to the airport, the busiest airport in Ireland and one of the busiest in the British isles. That shows how far behind we are.
The bus lanes which are in place have proved effective for buses and taxis. We are light years behind the systems which transport people in cities such as Paris, Budapest and New York. Many of these people are transported underground and if they were to be transported above ground, there would be chaos. The Luas has gone a long way towards improving our transport infrastructure, but it must be extended to all parts of Dublin.
I spoke on integrated ticketing and that appears to be some time away, although the use of new technologies will make it easier to achieve. In Auckland, New Zealand, they are investing in new technologies so that they can co-ordinate the entire public transport system. This includes automated gates, as well as smart card readers on buses, ferries and rail stations. Our system is still stuck in a time warp and we still have bus queues because drivers must collect payment before a bus can move.
I have gone to Strasbourg from time to time for Council of Europe meetings and it has a fully integrated ticketing system for commuters, whether they use the tram system which is similar to Dublin’s Luas or the bus system. That proves very effective for tourists, business people going to work in the morning and all other commuters. A system similar to this for Ireland should be in place so that people could buy a ticket and get on the Luas or a bus. It would be more efficient than the current system and bring about fewer delays, particularly with Ireland’s inclement weather. It rains much of the time here and there is much pushing and shoving to get on the buses.
I speak also from the perspective of tourists visiting Ireland who may be used to efficient systems in their own countries. For many tourists coming to Ireland — be it rural Ireland or cities like Dublin — it can be a nightmare. A person should be able to purchase a day pass to get around like we can in other European countries.
The Bill does not include rail travel but I cannot understand why we are not moving towards a co-ordinated public transport system. For example, in my own constituency, the Ennis to Limerick commuter line has proved a major success and the frequency of the service from Ennis to Galway is to be increased shortly. I welcome that improvement, which will take place in the new year. As part of the improvement, we will also have a new station open in Sixmilebridge, which will help commuters travelling to Ennis and Limerick. They can travel to Shannon by bus. Sixmilebridge is approximately 12 km from Shannon Airport and it would make sense for tourists travelling from Limerick to Shannon or vice versa to be able to purchase a ticket to travel onwards to and from the airport on a bus or train.
These are the reasons we should be moving forward and why I welcome that the new authority will have an input into local development plans. It is important that our local public transport requirements are planned and co-ordinated. The Commission for Taxi Regulation will merge with the new authority, although I note there is no proposal to address the oversupply of taxis in the market. We all know of problems with taxis in our rural towns, particularly at the weekends when there are no taxis around despite an abundance being evident during the week. The same is true of Dublin.
I remember when I first came here as a Deputy that I found it very hard to get a taxi on Dawson Street but there are now queues of them all the time. Changes could be made to the current system to ease the oversupply of taxis. To suggest that some taxis will leave the industry because of the current decline does not resolve the problem as there will only be additional people on the live register.
Overall, the Bill is disappointing and does not address the key issues. It is a failed opportunity to deal with public transport, which is the way forward. I will return to what I said at the start; the passenger will go anywhere if the price is right and the transport is there.
Deputy Frank Fahey: I welcome the publication of this Bill, which is a long time coming. It is a poor reflection on all of us that we are operating in 2009 under legislation introduced in 1932. Every Member in the House should bow their heads in shame that in this modern era, when we are trying to promote public transport, we are still operating under archaic legislation.
There are many positives in this Bill and I thank the Minister and his officials for producing what is generally a very fine piece of legislation. It will put consumer needs at the centre of the action and ensure that the issuing and administration of all bus licences, both commercial and loss-making, will transfer from the Department to the new Dublin Transport Authority, which will be integrated into the new national transport authority.
This will be a comprehensive new regime which will put consumer needs at its core. There will be very extensive powers, which I welcome, to penalise companies and revoke licences for poor performances. The question of a level playing pitch will at long last be the order of the day as a result of legislation. I will come back to that in a few moments but establishing the principle of regulated competition, as opposed to a free-for-all, is the key element of this legislation. Regulated competition is very important because we want to ensure that level playing pitch.
We want to continue to ensure that subvented services, such as those in parts of Ireland that are not commercial, will continue to operate. People in isolated rural areas and other parts of cities and working class areas should have good competition and services. It should not just be a case of cherry-picking.
This legislation is far better than the British system, which went for a free-for-all. There are many good services in Britain but there is ample evidence of poor services because of cherry-picking, predatory pricing and the creation of monopolies. I have been to cities where I have seen that at its worst. That is not to say there are no good aspects in Britain, such as in places like York and Cambridge where there are exemplary public transport systems.
This is the first time we will see a contract regime setting strict standards to be met by operators in terms of frequency, reliability, efficiency and cost, as well as customer issues like cleanliness, ticketing and real-time passenger information. There is no doubt that this is very good legislation, which will take forward the issue of bus transport from the old regime that existed until now. It will operate in respect of all commercial bus services, whether provided by private companies, Bus Éireann or Dublin Bus. It provides for the new system to be operated by the national transport authority.
I only recently saw the Fine Gael proposals for a free-for-all and I am disappointed in them. If the Fine Gael legislation was put in place, Bus Éireann would be finished as a commercial company within five years and it would be left to provide services in rural areas which would be at a serious loss to the State. There are amendments which should be made to the Bill and I will come to them in a moment, but Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann are good companies which provide a good service. We need a comprehensive bus network on the existing routes in the city of Dublin, for example. By the same token, the unions and management in Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have to make changes. They cannot maintain some of the restrictive work practices and archaic industrial arrangements that exist. The two companies will continue to come under significant pressure until their management and unions agree to move away from many aspects of their old-style union and management arrangements.
This Bill provides for regulated competition. If we were to throw the market open as a free for all, as Fine Gael suggests, there is no doubt that Bus Éireann and, to a lesser extent, Dublin Bus would come to a pretty quick halt over the next number of years. I assure the unions that I want to see a strong Dublin Bus and a strong Bus Éireann. I am a great believer in the two companies, which provide good services. There is no doubt that this Bill puts it up to them. They have to change the way they operate. The old days of union demarcation, old-style working habits and costs that are way out of line have to come to an end. These companies have to be prepared to face up to fair competition. Nobody can stand over a protected system that is costing consumers and taxpayers more and is providing a quality of service that is not up to the mark. I reiterate that if they make the changes I have mentioned, they will be able to meet the best in terms of competition. We can already see that the competition will be intense.
I am worried that if we have a free for all, as proposed by Fine Gael, the problems that have arisen in Great Britain will arise here too. Companies like Stagecoach adopted a predatory pricing regime and took over routes in Scotland. As soon as they had put everyone else out of business, they decided to do what they liked. The same thing was tried in this country when a number of Stagecoach executives arrived here to take over Citylink. The company is now offering 14 trips a day between Galway and Dublin Airport, even though it does not have a licence. Under its predatory pricing regime, it is charging as little as €1 per trip. We all want low prices and high frequencies, but we are not prepared to allow that kind of ethos to come into the Irish system. The idea that one can come in, break the rules, offer bus services without worrying about licences, charge passengers €1 in order to break everybody else and keep the market for one’s self is not acceptable. We should do whatever is needed to stop this company from operating on the Dublin-Galway route in this manner.
I appeal to the Minister and his officials to stop what is happening. Other companies like GoBus and Bus Éireann are already operating on this route. As we are in favour of competition, we should give this company some licences, but we should not allow it to develop the kind of regime that exists in parts of Britain. There is ample evidence to show that it has not worked in Scotland, for example. Good companies went to the wall when their services were affected by the predatory pricing of other companies that did what they liked, in terms of prices and services, when there was nobody else around. I do not accept that model represents a good way of going forward.
This country has a wonderful opportunity to move from the car to the bus. The Joint Committee on Transport has placed a great deal of emphasis on the utility of the bus in dealing with this country’s traffic congestion and reducing carbon emissions. There is so much potential to expand Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann and to bring in the private sector. I suggest that direct award sub-contracts should be facilitated on the routes that are currently operated by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. I am glad this matter is covered in the Bill because it brings an element of competition to the routes in question, while protecting the public service obligation services that currently exist. That is particularly important in a city like Galway, where there is not enough room for two companies to operate a bus service. Galway is too small for that. We should have one bus company, such as Bus Éireann, with the ability to bring in the private sector on direct award sub-contracts to operate on its network. In such circumstances, Bus Éireann would have to compete with the private sector in terms of the extra buses that would be put on. I would have no difficulty with services in certain cities, such as Limerick, Waterford or even Galway, being put out to tender in a way that would allow a private sector company to take charge.
The decision to give the new national transport authority responsibility for the existing Commission for Taxi Regulation is a good one. The joint committee has found in the recent past that the commission is a costly bureaucracy that is not working. I estimate that there were 7,000 taxi licences in this country before the establishment of the commission. There are now 27,000 such licences. Given that each licence costs €6,000, I estimate that the commission has taken in over €100 million. The regulator informed the committee the other day that the commission has €23 million in its kitty, at a time when the taxi situation is totally chaotic. It is all right to attempt to provide for competition, but we do not have competition in the industry any more. We have an industry in chaos, with poor services in many cases. The people who operate it cannot make a living. I recently called on the Minister to disband the Commission for Taxi Regulation. I hope that will happen when it is taken over by the new national transport authority. I will ask for some amendments in that regard to be made to this Bill over the coming weeks.
Deputy Michael Kennedy: I thank Deputy Fahey for sharing his time with me. I welcome this Bill. As other speakers, including Deputy Fahey, have said, the introduction of legislation to replace the Road Transport Act 1932 with an Act that is more appropriate to modern Ireland is long overdue. It is incredible that the nature of bus, rail and taxi activities has not really changed in the last 77 years. I welcome the establishment of a new national transport authority to deal with all aspects of transportation. It is necessary to make these changes in a regulated way, however. The experience in London proves that allowing all and sundry to avail of free competition does not always work. Private operators in London have opted to cherry-pick the good routes and to provide services at certain times of day only, which is not what the public expects. People want a good service to be available when they need it, for example during the peak morning hours and again in the evening when they want to get home after the working day.
While the Bill might not be perfect, it represents a step in the right direction. It is not easy to endeavour to consolidate 80 years of changes, embracing all aspects of transportation, in one Bill. We should move towards more competition in a structured way. I welcome the Bill as a first step in meeting the value for money demands of taxpayers, who are subsidising the CIE group by approximately €360 million.
While I have previously been critical of CIE, particularly Dublin Bus, in my local area, the measures that were taken following the recent collapse of the viaduct over the Broadmeadow Estuary near Malahide proved that Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann can come up with the goods. The bus companies have provided an excellent service, in conjunction with Irish Rail, since the collapse of the line. They have offered express buses at frequent intervals in the morning and again in the evening, when people return from the city to places like Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush, Lusk and Donabate. It proves that when the situation demands it, it can provide that vital service. That service uses Dublin Port tunnel. I have consistently said that the port tunnel is the most under-utilised asset in the State. The case for more usage of the tunnel is well made. I have had approximately 400 to 500 e-mails, letters and phone calls from constituents asking for the express buses from Balbriggan, Rush, Lusk and Donabate to be retained because people recognise that the buses using the tunnel get them into town in the shortest time. The service has been so good that it is beating the train service, which might seem incredible. However, having the service operate through the tunnel non-stop until it reaches the city centre means that people get into the city in the time they want. That service should continue. We know that the northern rail line in particular is chock-a-block from the time it leaves Drogheda and certainly by the time it reaches Balbriggan. People have complained about overcrowding on the train. I have made known my views to the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann that we need to continue some of those express services.
The provisions in the Bill before us will facilitate decisions in a shorter space of time. Rather than dealing with the antiquated 1932 Act, the Dublin Transport Authority as the overall organisation dealing with transport issues can come to quick decisions in the best interests of the commuter. Our thanks are due to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann for meeting the demands for commuters in that situation with the rail line across Malahide Estuary having collapsed. While we have been excessively critical at times, we must pay due respects to them.
We need to keep repeating that the metro system from St. Stephen’s Green, going out to Swords in my constituency is necessary. The volume of traffic on the M1 motorway is 20,000 cars daily. For sustainability we need to get those cars off the road. The only way to do so is by having this metro system which I am confident will carry 30 million passengers in a year, similar to what is happening with the Luas on the south side. I welcome that the An Bord Pleanála hearing is recommencing at the end of the month. I hope it will make its decision in a positive fashion by next spring. The Government needs to give the go-ahead for that project.  The commuting public expects it and it will take cars off the road and reduce the CO2 emissions and allow people to get into the city in an easy frame of mind to do their day’s work, rather than being stuck in traffic jams as is the case at present
Deputy Fahey mentioned taxi regulation. The taxi regulator will come under the ambit of the new DTA, which is necessary. We have gone from one extreme to the other in the past ten years or so. We used to have too few taxis not just in Dublin but also in Cork and elsewhere. We are now totally oversubscribed in that and worst of all many people are driving taxis with fraudulent plates and insurance. We need to get to grips with that situation.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: After a very long gestation period, the Bill has at last emerged into the House. We hope it will address the issues that have been in need of attention for some time. Transport requirements have changed dramatically in the past ten years in particular. What was sufficient ten or 15 years ago is no longer sufficient or relevant. In fact the emphasis is now on meeting the needs of consumers or commuters. There are different requirements in different areas. We have the daily commuter and the person who travels on an irregular basis. One way or another the tradition used to be that the service was provided and the public could use it when the public were available to use it. That is not the way things work.
This legislation is like all the other legislation that comes before us, as the Acting Chairman knows. We tend to welcome Bills at the start, look at them for a couple of years, discover they were not as good as we thought they were in the first place and we wonder why we introduced them at all. This is an extraordinary situation. It has happened in the case of every piece of legislation I have seen introduced since I entered this House, and that was not today or yesterday.
The integrated system has been mentioned. What about integrating the timetables in such a way as to make it convenient for bus users and train users adjacent to the main commuter routes to have a co-ordinated and integrated system that would work so that potential passengers have more than one choice? When they drive down to the bus stop, railway station or whatever it is, if they do not make it one way they should be able to go by another route. That is healthy and useful competition. As there is no place for cherry picking, the two services should be complementary to each other.
Lo and behold, however, what happens when a Deputy tables a parliamentary question to the Minister to ask about such an issue? It always happens that the Minister has no responsibility to the House. Nothing ever changes. It is sad to think that five or six years ago a Deputy could table the same parliamentary question and the Minister had responsibility to the House and answered the question because he knew it was relevant to his Department. All things have changed. We talk about Dáil reform. It is reverse reform we have had. It is very pertinent in this area as I know because I tabled the questions. When I tabled questions five, ten, 20 and 25 years ago, there was no difficulty getting answers to those questions. It is now an appalling fact of life that the Minister will not answer the simplest question along those lines because he is not compelled to answer. Why does he not want to answer? He has been too long in the job. Why has he been too long in the job? He has become accustomed to recognising that he can be expected to treat the House with contempt.
Acting Chairman: I was going to interrupt the Deputy by saying he is speaking about matters that are not relevant to the Public Transport Regulation Bill. I would like him to confine his remarks to the Bill we are discussing at present. I understand the Deputy might have raised this matter today on the Order of Business and the Ceann Comhairle answered his question.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: I have bad news for the Acting Chairman. I saw him getting the official advice and they are both wrong because it is relevant. It is relevant in the sense that we are introducing into the House a Bill the consequences of which we will observe only at a later stage. There is no other time to introduce this issue apart from now. I am sticking it into the public record in the way it needs to be stuck into the public record. I will continue to raise it on every piece of legislation introduced in this House as long as legislation is brought into this House by Ministers. If Ministers do not have the courage to bring them into the House and stand over what they introduce by legislation, we will deal with that also. The Acting Chairman is a very nice person of whom I am very fond and I am sure he did not mean what he said. I meant what I said but I will return now to dealing with the legislation before us.
We have an opportunity in this Bill to change structures and operational procedures in the transport system which have been crying out for attention for years. We hope that will be done and that the choices we are told will be made available to consumers will transpire. I also hope that in the event that developments do not happen as we wish and expect, Ministers will have the courage to come back to the House to amend the legislation as and when necessary rather than merely wringing their hands and inquiring of themselves and each other as to what should be done next.
The taxi regulation system has been a source of great irritation to those providing taxi services in the last five or six years. I hope the proposals before us will address the sources of that aggravation. One of the issues regularly brought to our attention is the fact that we live in a different climate from that which pertained some years ago. The situation has changed dramatically in the taxi industry, with many of those involved in the business finding they are no longer in a position to meet the financial commitments they entered into in the recent past. There must be an acknowledgement that the system which was put in place several years ago simply did not work. We cannot sit on our hands, complain and fret while consumers and service providers suffer. We must ensure that the Department and this House is responsive on these issues. I am a strong advocate for competition, but that competition must be even handed. It is important to ensure in so far as is possible, whether in the public or private sector, that competitors are operating from the same base, that is, that none has an advantage over the others. It is very easy to facilitate uneven competition but such a situation will be short lived because anything that is not economically viable cannot last.
Another important issue in the regulation of public transport services is the degree to which efforts are made to ensure that those applying for licences under the new legislation are in a position to provide the quality and standard of service as laid down. Where applicants are not capable of meeting the detailed specifications, they should be given an opportunity to bring their proposals and services up to a sufficiently high standard in order to provide the type and quality of service that is required. This whole area has generated a great deal of inquiry and debate in the House in recent years simply because the requirements were brought to everybody’s attention.
The purpose of this exercise in the first instance is to provide the public with a service that is fast, efficient and reliable and which meets health and safety requirements and standards. In addition, those involved in the provision of the service should be adequately remunerated and have adequate tenure in terms of their entitlement to contracts, employment and so on. However, we must avoid procedures, structures or restrictions which in themselves impose an additional penalty either on the customer or the State as may be the case. It is extremely important, in the particularly slimmed down circumstances in which we are now operating, that there is adequate openness and transparency in terms of how the regime is overseen by the Department and implemented by the transport authority. It must be done in such a way that the customer can readily obtain a high-quality service and a degree of satisfaction in terms of the extent to which his or her requirements are met.
I do not know whether the Minister fully appreciates the importance of the rural transport service, which was referred to by various speakers. It is easy for those living in towns and cities, where they can walk to the nearest shop, post office, hotel, convenience store, shopping centre and so on, to dismiss the importance of a public transport service to rural dwellers. In view of the general tendency to scale down operations and support services in rural areas, it is high time that recognition be given to the fact that many people still live in rural areas, despite the best efforts of local authorities to isolate them and make it difficult for them to remain. Existing rural transport services, such as they are, are of great importance to rural communities and must be the given the necessary support to allow them to continue. To do anything other than that would be a great disservice to rural dwellers. While it is politically correct — for want of a better expression — to ignore the needs of rural communities, the reality is that people living in rural areas have the same rights and entitlements as their urban counterparts. Just because they do not have public street lighting, footpaths, a daily commuter bus service and many of the other services people take for granted in more urbanised settings does not mean they are not entitled to them. That should be borne in mind in more ways than one.
I welcome this legislation. Like many Bills before it and many yet to come, we cannot be sure of the extent of its impact until we see it in operation. When and if it does not operate to the degree of effectiveness we expect, I hope the Minister or his successor, whoever that may be, will see fit to change it. In general, given the authority that this House hands over to various bodies, groups, agencies and commissions, I also hope Ministers will have the courage, conviction and commitment to come into the House and answer questions relative to the legislation they have passed for a particular purpose. They should not insult us by saying they have no function in these matters or no official responsibility to the House in respect of them.
Deputy Denis Naughten: I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this important legislation but I am disappointed it is being rushed through the House. While significant time was allocated for Second Stage, the intention is to enact the legislation within a few weeks. It has major implications for the development of our public transport system and bus services, in particular, for generations. We need to think long and hard about this. I acknowledge numerous consultants have been appointed and reports and recommendations made but it is important that the Minister gets section 10, in particular, right to ensure the service we want is achieved because deregulation in other sectors of the economy in the past has not worked like we had anticipated when the relevant legislation was enacted. The Bill will require detailed scrutiny on Committee Stage and I hope time will be provided to do so.
Deputy Durkan mentioned the lack of accountability of many agencies under the aegis of the Department of Transport that were established in recent years. This permits the Minister to trot out the standard line that he has no official responsibility to the House regarding them. That system must change and accountability to the House must be re-introduced. Last year the OECD highlighted that there were more than 600 quangos in the State, which has led to fragmentation in the delivery of policy and a lack of accountability. The original plans for this legislation would have resulted in an array of different agencies overseeing the deregulated market but the more streamlined structure proposed has many positive aspects.
If competition is to be worthwhile, the service provided to the public must improve. I am concerned that if the Minister does not ensure the provisions of section 10 are laid out clearly, that may not happen. We want more than a change in the logo on the side of a bus as a result of this legislation because no one will benefit. It is important to reflect on what happened in the UK. Mistakes were made in London regarding deregulation mainly because the bus garage infrastructure was handed over to companies and privatised but the authorities have learned from that. There have also been huge problems in the deregulation of the bus market outside London because of a lack of competition. Only three major players provide services in England and Wales and they more or less have a privatised monopoly. The Department should not transfer a service from Bus Éireann to a private company, which would result in the current monopoly being maintained. While initially this might result in increased service frequency, the company might slowly withdraw services, which could result in the bus network reducing rather than expanding.
It is vitally important that the legislation contains adequate provisions to ensure not only that the existing network is maintained but services are enhanced and extended to other areas. I have concerns in this regard that need to be addressed, especially in rural areas. The Minister debated the provision of rural transport services earlier and I read Mr. Colm McCarthy’s commentary on school transport with interest. He referred to car ownership in the State, which is significant, but there is a big difference between car ownership and car availability. While that has changed over the past 12 months because of the way the Government has run the economy into the ground, up until then, many people in rural communities commuted to work in Dublin or elsewhere. While two cars might have been outside the front door at 8 p.m. between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. no vehicle was available. The Minister is from a rural constituency and he will be aware that in recent years if a farmer was in trouble with an animal, it was impossible to find a neighbour to assist him because everyone was at work and the same applies regarding access to cars.
We need to examine issues in rural areas. The review of the rural transport scheme should examine how the uptake of existing services can be maximised because it is vital to enhance interconnectivity to ensure the existing network is developed. Co-ordination is needed between operators in order that local and national operators are not servicing towns and villages within a few minutes of each other.
Bus stops are an issue. One only has to walk up and down Kildare Street to see the array of coloured bus stops denoting the various operators providing services. The same applies on every main thoroughfare in the State. One centralised bus stop should be provided, which all operators would use while operating a co-ordinated timetable to ensure services can be maximised. Such bus stops are not only a hazard for those with a visual impairment, they are unsightly. The current system also does not provide for the co-ordination that is needed in the provision of public transport.
Integrated ticketing is also crucial in this regard. Perhaps the Minister will update the House in his reply on this issue. Integrated ticketing was more widely available ten years ago than it is now. Ten years ago I could board a train in Roscommon or Athlone and buy a ticket that would take me directly to Leinster House but I cannot do so anymore. Such a ticket that would permit me to use both train and bus services cannot be issued. That is one example of the lack of co-ordination. If competition is to be encouraged and different operators are to be given access to the market, it is important that a proper integrated ticketing system be put in place.
It must be ensured that when services are put out to tender, a mix of profitable and unprofitable routes are bundled together. For example, there would be huge competition for the Dublin to Galway inter-city route because it is one of the most valuable routes in the country. What about the connecting services, say from Boyle to Athlone? In my own constituency we have a relatively good network of services to Dublin but an appalling service to Galway. Breast cancer services are being removed from Mayo and Sligo and accident and emergency services are being relocated to Galway from smaller hospitals. However, public transport does not cater for the people who will use these relocated services. At present, it is far easier to travel to Dublin by public transport than to Galway. In a couple of weeks time, changes in the rail timetable will make it feasible to reach any hospital appointment in Dublin but it is impossible to get to a hospital appointment in Galway by public transport.
We must see the expansion and development of new services. It is important that the issue of public transport services is addressed in section 10. Capacity must be increased and not merely transferred from one bus service to another. That will not benefit anyone in the long run. This must be done in a regulated and controlled manner to ensure a smooth transition from the current to the proposed new system, as envisaged in the legislation. Unplanned and unco-ordinated developments will not work. Small unprofitable routes must be bundled together with profitable routes. Attention must be paid to service provision. There must be detailed targets for capacity, frequency and punctuality on routes and those targets must be met.
Profitable routes and sections of routes will survive without help while operators may wash their hands of unprofitable aspects. This will present a complex challenge to the authority. If each route is tendered individually there will be huge problems in delivering the service we need. Tendering a bundle of services including, for example, the inter-city Dublin to Galway service and the existing rural networks in Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon, would guarantee that those rural services would be retained. For example, a private contractor who is granted the route from Lanesboro through Roscommon to Athlone may find that the only profitable part of the route is from Roscommon to Athlone and may allow the other part of the route to waste away, either by disimproving the frequency or providing buses at unsuitable times so that passengers do not use the service. The operator may then apply to the regulator to cancel that part of the service.
The current penalty system for unlicensed operators is a mess. The fines imposed are a joke. An operator can blatantly ignore the law until the Department pursues him and eventually imposes a derisory fine. The next day the operator can apply to the Department for a licence on the same route and the licence is usually granted. This does not make sense. Operators who flout the law until caught, should not be granted licences.
When the Bill is enacted and a service is put out to tender and granted to an operator, that operator must provide the level of service to which he or she has committed. An operator who comes in and takes a profitable aspect of a route should not be rewarded by being granted another licence. The Garda must be given the power to stop such an operator from providing a service. That is not happening at present. Provision must be made in the Bill to deal with operators who ignore the law but are nevertheless granted licences subsequently. That cannot continue when this Bill is enacted. There must be adequate sanctions to deal with operators who ignore the law.
I welcome the reference in section 10 to the need to preserve good order and safety on public roads. What will the regulation be with regard to bus stops, which are part of the transport infrastructure? Mistakes were made in the past regarding infrastructure. The telecommunications infrastructure was handed over to Eircom, for example, when it became a private operator. We all regret the day that happened. What will happen with regard to bus stops? They are owned by local authorities, Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus or private operators. It would not be feasible to allow four or five bus shelters on a main thoroughfare. In the past, we have seen delays in the tendering process. European Union tendering procedures have caused problems with regard to the provision of bus shelters throughout the country. We are, at long last, beginning to see them provided in rural areas. However, who will own and control them? Will we see buses stopping ten yards from a bus shelter because the bus and the shelter are owned by different operators?
We must be careful how bus routes are opened up to competition. Franchising blocs of routes and combining profitable and loss-making routes in bundles, is the way to go. Specific performance targets must be set for schedules, passenger numbers and so on. These targets must be placed in the public domain so that we can see which operators are meeting the criteria laid down.
Minister for Transport (Deputy Noel Dempsey): I thank Deputies on all sides of the House for their contribution to this debate. A number of very interesting points were raised and I look forward to engaging with Deputies on Committee Stage on them. Despite the fact Fine Gael may call a vote on Second Stage, if I detected what was said correctly, in general, there appears to be an underlying welcome for the Bill and for what it achieves, and I welcome that.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, the Bill provides a very important building block in a public transport legislative reform programme which builds on the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 and aims to put in place a totally new framework for the future regulation and control of public passenger land transport. I reiterate that the focus of the Bill is to provide a new licensing regime for commercial public bus passenger services that is better equipped to deal with modern demands and, despite some views expressed, will facilitate a level playing field for all bus market operators, both private and public. That is extremely important and is almost a core value of this Bill.
A number of Deputies adverted to the fact the Bill is overdue. That is true. It is overdue in the sense that it is 77 years since we passed the original legislation, which was the Road Transport Act 1932. It has been long recognised as being unsuited to modern conditions. It is certainly unsuited to the varying demands and needs of interurban, suburban, rural, local and community services. The fact remains, however, that we now have a proposal that will assist the Dublin Transport Authority which, after the passing of this legislation, will be called the national transport authority, in the promotion of regulated competition in the provision of licensed national bus passenger services in the interests of the public at large now and in the future. That has been generally welcomed by everyone who made a contribution, and I thank them for that.
The Bill also extends the power of the DTA under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 to give it a national role in regard to the procurement of public land transport services and the future subvention of non-commercial bus and rail services. The contracting arrangements in Part 3, chapter 2, of the Act are being extended nationwide. Those legislative provisions have been prepared to be consistent with EU law and EU Regulation No. 1370 of 2007 on public service obligations. In particular, the new contractual structure of the public service obligation transport services will place a particular emphasis on transparency and performance based objectives and criteria. Again, a number of Deputies spoke about the necessity for a transparent system and for transparent objectives and criteria.
The third important objective of the Bill is to address the amalgamation of the Commission for Taxi Regulation into the Dublin Transport Authority which, in light of its proposed national focus in regard to commercial bus licensing, the expansion of the contractual regime for public transport services and the regulation of small public service vehicles and their drivers will be renamed as the national transport authority. The Commission for Taxi Regulation will be dissolved and subsumed into the new authority which will take on the functions of the commission under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003.
The Commissioner for Taxi Regulation and the staff of the commission will transfer to the authority on terms and conditions of employment no less favourable than those to which they are currently entitled. Sections 39 and 40 of the Bill provide for that.
A number of other legislative amendments are contained in the Bill to address a number of important issues through amendments to the road planning and road traffic legislation. The amendment of the Planning and Development Act in section 44 gives the authority a role in regard to the preparation of regional planning guidelines on a national basis consistent with the move towards having a national transport authority. Section 30 will facilitate the consideration of further expansion of the remit and functions of the authority in this area. It is also hoped that the streamlining of the delivery of bus services and bus priority measures will prove beneficial in terms of the provision of enhanced services for the public.
A number of Deputies spoke about rural transport, the rural transport programme and the fact there is no reference to it in the Bill. That is true because the rural transport programme currently works outside the licensed bus system unless where there are particular contractual services. The point most Deputies made, and with which I agree, was on the need for the retention and, if at all possible, the expansion of the rural transport programme. As I indicated elsewhere, this is a matter for a decision by the Government. This Government and a previous Fianna Fáil-led one introduced the scheme and expanded it consistently since 2003. That is very much part of our philosophy and our belief in trying to provide services in rural Ireland. I hope we will be able to continue with that.
There was much discussion among Deputies on both sides on the whole concept of regulated competition as opposed to total deregulation. I must emphasise that I am against total deregulation and total free-for-alls. They have not worked too well in most countries in which they have been tried and they would certainly spell an end to public transport as we know it and to any kind of commitment to social and economic disadvantage. That would be a factor in our public transport system. I am not in favour of total deregulation.
The concept in the Bill is regulated competition, which is particularly important. Section 10 is at the heart of this process of regulated competition and it is firmly based on the EU concept of regulated competition as well. Under the Bill, the revised bus route licensing provisions facilitate the optimum provision of services by providing a level playing field for all market participants, both private and public operators such as Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. All will be licensed and operated under the same rules. That is the level playing field about which we are talking and is a measure which has been long sought by people in the private sector and by many public representatives. It is in the interests of equality of access to the transport market that provision was included in the original agreed programme for Government, and in a previous one. It is continued in the current programme for Government.
Regulated or controlled competition under the Bill follows very clearly the concept outlined in European law, in particular in Regulation No. 1370 to which I referred earlier. The Bill does not permit unfettered competition which, on the basis of experience elsewhere, can lead to market domination by one operator to the detriment of the state and, more important, to the detriment of consumers and customers. There is a clear structure in this Bill against which applications for bus route licensing will be considered. In particular it introduces the concept of the demand test in section 10 to which I have already referred and which places the consumer at the heart of any process.
It is the intention in the Bill to match demand and service rather than to protect the existing or prospective service-providers. Some of the commentary on this Bill outside this House would lead me to believe that people are reading this legislation in isolation and not taking fully into account what is already contained in the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008. It is important to make that point.
A number of Deputies have also referred to enforcement and penalties. There is no doubt one of the most significant flaws in the existing and current legislation, the 1932 Act, is the level of penalties. A fine of €63 and €6 per day for a continuing offence is no deterrent to anybody and there have been good examples of how this is no deterrent. The Bill will impose a modern system of penalties and associated powers, particularly the power for the revocation of licences. This is not an easy call but we need to be in a position to take strong action with regard to those who persistently breach their licences and those who engage in predatory practices. Apart from the introduction of heavier fines, the power of revocation of licences is very important. I give due notice to those who appear to be flouting the law as it stands. If they are in breach of licensing conditions or have not applied for licences, I will do everything possible to ensure this legislation will allow us to take this into account when those people are applying for licences, particularly those engaged in predatory behaviour.
Change in the level of penalties is overdue. We must ensure that legal operators who invest a lot of money are protected, be they public or private operators. The combination of increased financial penalties and clear powers for revocation of licences where a holder has not met the conditions under which the licence was granted will offer protection to the compliant service-providers and the public. If a service-provider does not meet or fails to continue to meet the basic requirement of the road transport operator’s licence which sets the standards for access to the profession of providing all types of bus transport, his or her route licence will, under this legislation, also be revoked automatically.
A number of Deputies have argued that the Bill protects the CIE group of companies but this is untrue. We must protect the public services in existence because it is not possible to change a system overnight. Section 52 is an important element as it promotes the pursuit of direct award contracts between the authority and Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail, for the continued provision of their existing range of subvented bus and rail services within the greater Dublin area. It is important to continue those services but they will not be continued indefinitely. The Bill initially provides the companies with exclusive rights to continue to provide services and mandates the authority to enter into direct award contracts so as to establish the basis for the maintenance of State funding for those services consistent with the provisions of EU Regulation No. 1370 to which I referred previously.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I do not wish to interrupt the Minister but to say he has used 15 minutes which is the minimum time he is entitled to use. The Order states it is to be not less than 15 minutes so he can speak for as long as he likes but I must advise him if he has not concluded by 7 p.m. I will be obliged to adjourn the debate to another day.
Deputy Noel Dempsey: I do not believe there is any desire in the House for us to prolong the debate. We are anxious to proceed to Committee Stage. I will make one or two other points and conclude. I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the reminder.
The approach adopted in section 52 with regard to the direct award contracts recognises in the first instance that such contracts are required to ensure the existing public service, PSO services, bus and rail passenger services in the greater Dublin area can continue to operate and attract necessary State subvention, given the importance of those services to the travelling public. If that course were not pursued, the maintenance of existing bus and rail services in the greater Dublin area would be threatened. I do not believe anyone in this House would want to see that happen.
A number of Members have adverted to integrated ticketing. I will not go into the details at this point. The integrated ticketing project since it was taken over by the integrated ticketing board in 2005, is on schedule. A number of smartcards have already been issued by various companies. The integration will continue this year and next year and the whole project should be well completed by 2011.
With regard to the question of the sharing of facilities, this is provided for in current legislation but it is also provided for in previous legislation. It is a matter for the Garda Síochána under road traffic legislation to ensure the safety of the travelling public. The Garda Síochána can determine the sites and whether sites can be shared.
I thank Members for their contributions to the Second Stage debate. I look forward to Committee Stage and to Report and Final Stages. We are working under a time constraint and I wish to acknowledge the co-operation and support of the Deputies opposite in bringing the Bill through the House within the required timeframe.
|Ahern, Dermot.||Ahern, Michael.|
|Ahern, Noel.||Andrews, Barry.|
|Andrews, Chris.||Ardagh, Seán.|
|Aylward, Bobby.||Blaney, Niall.|
|Brady, Áine.||Brady, Cyprian.|
|Brady, Johnny.||Broughan, Thomas P.|
|Browne, John.||Burton, Joan.|
|Byrne, Thomas.||Calleary, Dara.|
|Carey, Pat.||Collins, Niall.|
|Conlon, Margaret.||Connick, Seán.|
|Costello, Joe.||Coughlan, Mary.|
|Cregan, John.||Cuffe, Ciarán.|
|Curran, John.||Dempsey, Noel.|
|Dooley, Timmy.||Fahey, Frank.|
|Ferris, Martin.||Finneran, Michael.|
|Fitzpatrick, Michael.||Fleming, Seán.|
|Flynn, Beverley.||Gogarty, Paul.|
|Gormley, John.||Hanafin, Mary.|
|Haughey, Seán.||Healy-Rae, Jackie.|
|Higgins, Michael D.||Hoctor, Máire.|
|Howlin, Brendan.||Kelleher, Billy.|
|Kelly, Peter.||Kenneally, Brendan.|
|Kennedy, Michael.||Killeen, Tony.|
|Kitt, Michael P.||Kitt, Tom.|
|Lenihan, Brian.||Lenihan, Conor.|
|McEllistrim, Thomas.||McGrath, Mattie.|
|McGrath, Michael.||McGuinness, John.|
|McManus, Liz.||Moloney, John.|
|Moynihan, Michael.||Mulcahy, Michael.|
|Nolan, M. J.||Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.|
|Ó Cuív, Éamon.||Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.|
|O’Brien, Darragh.||O’Connor, Charlie.|
|O’Dea, Willie.||O’Donoghue, John.|
|O’Flynn, Noel.||O’Hanlon, Rory.|
|O’Keeffe, Batt.||O’Keeffe, Edward.|
|O’Sullivan, Christy.||Penrose, Willie.|
|Power, Peter.||Power, Seán.|
|Rabbitte, Pat.||Roche, Dick.|
|Ryan, Eamon.||Sargent, Trevor.|
|Scanlon, Eamon.||Sherlock, Seán.|
|Shortall, Róisín.||Smith, Brendan.|
|Stagg, Emmet.||Treacy, Noel.|
|Tuffy, Joanna.||Upton, Mary.|
|Wall, Jack.||Wallace, Mary.|
|White, Mary Alexandra.||Woods, Michael.|
|Allen, Bernard.||Bannon, James.|
|Barrett, Seán.||Breen, Pat.|
|Bruton, Richard.||Burke, Ulick.|
|Byrne, Catherine.||Carey, Joe.|
|Clune, Deirdre.||Connaughton, Paul.|
|Coonan, Noel J.||Coveney, Simon.|
|Creed, Michael.||Creighton, Lucinda.|
|D’Arcy, Michael.||Deasy, John.|
|Doyle, Andrew.||Durkan, Bernard J.|
|English, Damien.||Feighan, Frank.|
|Flanagan, Terence.||Hayes, Tom.|
|Kehoe, Paul.||Kenny, Enda.|
|Lee, George.||McCormack, Pádraic.|
|McEntee, Shane.||McGinley, Dinny.|
|Naughten, Denis.||Neville, Dan.|
|Noonan, Michael.||O’Donnell, Kieran.|
|O’Dowd, Fergus.||O’Keeffe, Jim.|
|O’Mahony, John.||Reilly, James.|
|Sheahan, Tom.||Sheehan, P. J.|
|Stanton, David.||Timmins, Billy.|
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