Dublin Transport Authority Bill 2008: Report and Final Stages.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 189 No. 15

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Acting Chairman (Senator Dan Boyle): Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern, to the House. I wish to inform Senators that there is an error in the first printed version of the Bill as amended by the Seanad on Committee Stage. In accordance with Committee Stage amendment No. 84 which was agreed by the House, section 80(3) of the Bill should have been deleted. It was retained in the Bill in error, however, when it was first printed after Committee Stage. A reprinted version of the Bill was circulated to all Senators yesterday.

I remind the House that each Senator may speak only once on Report Stage, except for the proposer of an amendment who may reply to the discussion on the amendment. I should also point out that on Report Stage each amendment must be seconded.

Government amendment No. 1:

Minister of State at the Department of Transport (Deputy Noel Ahern): Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  This technical amendment amends the wording used in the definition of “subsidiary” in section 2. It deletes a reference in the definition to a later section that was deleted on Committee Stage.

Amendment agreed to.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 2:

[785]I raised this matter on Second and Committee Stages. The Minister has included places such counties Meath and Kildare in the definition of the greater Dublin area but he has not included Drogheda which has developed to the extent that it is almost seamless with Dublin. I live in the northern end of the Fingal administrative area, which is quite close to Drogheda. People are aware of that.

I wish to raise another point which the Minister of State might consider in terms of including Drogheda at this stage. The people of Balbriggan, which is a massive growth area, who commute by train to Dublin city centre do so by way of the Drogheda commuter line. There is no access to the DART which stops at Malahide. The same applies to Skerries, where I live, as well as to Rush, Lusk and Donabate. The population of those areas has grown tremendously in recent years and train commuters all use the Drogheda line.

People who travel by bus from Balbriggan to the city centre have two options, but in the main they use the 101 route, which is a Bus Éireann service from Drogheda or Dundalk. I see the logic of including places like Kildare and Meath, but there is also a case to be made for Drogheda and north Fingal where commuters use the transport services to which I have referred.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment and support Senator Ryan’s comments which point to an important aspect of this legislation. If one is inside the greater Dublin area one will get a particular focus and service from the Dublin transport authority, which will not be available to those outside that area. The competent national authority for people living outside the greater Dublin area is the Department of Transport. A potential vulnerability could be created if two different organisations are looking after transport needs. How will we ensure that integration is delivered at all times? After all, that is one of the main objectives of this legislation. How will we ensure the introduction of integrated ticketing allowing access to various modes of linked-up transport? Senator Ryan referred to the number of rail commuters using the Drogheda line into Dublin, which merits this change being made. I am happy to support the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  I thank Senators for their comments but I understand this matter was discussed on Committee Stage. On that occasion the Minister, Deputy Dempesy, indicated he was anxious to maintain a coherence between the greater Dublin area — as mentioned in section 3 — the existing regional authority and regional planning boundaries. There is a general acceptance of what the greater Dublin area is. I do not deny that a number of people currently commute from Drogheda. However, I was a local authority member for years and in the accepted sense, particularly at regional authority level, there is a fairly clearly defined acceptance of what constitutes the greater Dublin area. The Minister, Deputy Dempsey, wants to maintain that coherence so that people in the various bodies do not refer to different areas when they talk about the greater Dublin area.

There is a provision in section 3(c) to extend the geographical area of the greater Dublin area by ministerial order, should that prove to be necessary in future. I request the Senator to withdraw the proposed amendment. We want to keep to a standard definition and understanding of what constitutes the greater Dublin area.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I do not intend to press the amendment but I wish to comment on the Minister of State’s response. The legislation is trying to deal with the transport requirements of regular commuters into the Dublin region. It is wrong to exclude somewhere like Drogheda and not take into account the needs of commuters in the north Fingal area who use Drogheda commuter line trains to reach Dublin. We have already dealt with subsection (c), but not to include such places now is putting things off and waiting for some future date when we will [786]suddenly realise that we should have acted thus on day one. I think it is a mistake but I do not intend to press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 3:

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Amendment No. 3 arises from committee proceedings.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  This amendment seeks to change section 10(a). On Committee Stage, the Minister agreed to revert to this matter on Report Stage with a Government amendment implementing Senator Donohoe’s suggested rewording of section 10(a) once no legal issues arose over what was suggested. I am happy to report that no such issues arose and this amendment basically gives effect to the change of wording.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Before commenting on the amendment, I should say that it was remiss of me not to welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern, to the House and congratulate him on his new appointment. I am conscious that in recent times the Department of Transport has not had a Minister of State, and I wish him well in his new job. It is good to have a Dublin-based Minister of State in the Department who is aware of the relevant issues in the city and its suburbs.

I welcome the change the Government has made in this amendment as a result of an amendment I tabled on Committee Stage. I know it is a small change but it is welcome nonetheless because it recognises that, of itself, transport can play a role in increasing the rate of economic growth. Given the current economic circumstances, that is worth recognising.

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Amendment No. 4 arises from committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 4:

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  A discussion took place on Committee Stage, which was prompted by Senator Donohoe’s proposed amendment highlighting the importance of cycling and walking in the wider transport context. On that occasion, Senator Donohoe suggested that the Bill, as initiated, may have treated cyclists and walkers as being of secondary concern. That was certainly not the intention. The provisions regarding cycling and walking are included at several different points in the Bill. However, the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, agreed that a higher level of prominence should be given to the matter and this amendment achieves that. As it addresses the concerns raised by Senators Donohoe and Fitzgerald, I ask them to withdraw their amendment.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I welcome the change the Minister of State has made through this amendment. I will not move amendment No. 5 in recognition of that change. An important theme in our contributions on Committee Stage concerned the need for a joined-up and coherent approach to facilitating cycling within the greater Dublin area. The example we cited was [787]of cycle lanes not being linked up. While it may seem like a negligible matter, cycle lanes that suddenly disappear can discourage people from using bikes instead of cars.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 5 not moved.

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Amendment No. 6 arises from committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 6:

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  This amendment proposes some additional text to section 12(5)(f). On Committee Stage the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, agreed to revert with a preferred wording to incorporate the spirit of the amendment tabled by Senator Paschal Donohoe. This was to include a specific mention of transport and travel trends within the greater Dublin area to which the authority shall have regard when preparing its transport strategy. I suggest this amendment achieves its purpose and I hope Senators will accept this.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I will not move amendment No. 7 in recognition of what amendment No. 6 achieves. The thinking behind the amendment is that for too long our transport strategy has been preoccupied with linear routes in an attempt to get people in and out of areas. I was concerned that was the focus of this legislation, whereas we know there is also a need for a radial transport strategy for a given area and not just a linear plan. The change proposed by the Minister of State achieves this and I will not press my amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 7 not moved.

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Amendments Nos. 8, 9, 13 and 35 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 8:

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Is there a document indicating which amendments are grouped together?

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  There is a grouping list. We have a copy here for the Senator.

  12 o’clock

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Amendment No. 8 is one of a series of three Government amendments which oblige the authority to consider the views of the people and organisations with which it consults when preparing its transport strategy at section 12, its integrated implementation plan at section 13 and its strategic traffic management plan at section 64. The amendments arise from amendments tabled by Senator Paschal Donohoe on Committee Stage and meet the intent of the Senator’s proposals. Therefore, I request that Senators withdraw amendment No. 9.

[788]Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I will not move amendment No. 9 in light of Government amendment No. 8. The spirit of this amendment and others was to try to increase the accountability of a potentially very powerful organisation to the Oireachtas, local authorities and to individuals and communities affected by its work. While the proof of the extent of this accountability will be apparent once the organisation is up and running, the amendment proposed by the Government does make some progress towards this end, therefore, I will not move my amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 9 not moved.

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  The next amendment arises from Committee Stage proceedings. Amendments Nos. 14 and 36 are related. Amendment No. 11 is a logical alternative to amendment No. 10; amendment No. 15 is a logical alternative to amendment No. 14; and amendment No. 37 is a logical alternative to amendment No. 36. Therefore, amendments Nos. 10, 11, 14, 15, 36 and 37 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 10:

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  As with the previous group of amendments this amendment is one of a series of three Government amendments placing an onus on the authority to seek written submissions while preparing its various plans and strategies. The amendment seeks to provide the intent of amendments which were tabled by Senator Brendan Ryan on Committee Stage and which the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, agreed to consider. I hope these amendments address the Senator’s concerns and I ask for amendments Nos. 11, 15 and 37 to be withdrawn.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I thank the Minister of State for his response. We will not fall out over the exclusion of our words in particular and I am prepared to withdraw the three amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 11 not moved.

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Amendment No. 12 arises from Committee Stage proceedings.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I move amendment No. 12:

[789]

One of the main themes of our critique of this legislation at its earlier Stages was to try to ensure the correct mechanisms are in place to deliver accountability of this new body to the Oireachtas. Much time is spent in this Chamber discussing organisations and issues over which the Oireachtas no longer has the control and power which it believes it should have.

The organisation that will be established by this legislation will be especially powerful within the greater Dublin area in terms of its ability to intervene and perform roles previously carried out by other organisations and in terms of its ability to override such organisations. This amendment represents our proposal to strengthen the link between Oireachtas committees, the Members of the Oireachtas and the proposed new organisation. The amendment intends that when the Minister for Transport agrees the proposed draft transport strategy which will guide the new organisation, he or she will submit it to the Oireachtas for consideration so that Members have an opportunity to makes their views known to the Minister.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  As the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, indicated on Committee Stage it is not possible to accept the Senator’s amendment. The purpose of this amendment seems to be to allocate responsibility to the Oireachtas for approving the proposed authority’s draft transport strategy. I am concerned the amendment transgresses the accepted boundary between the executive function of Government and the legislative and oversight roles of the Houses of the Oireachtas. I do not consider such a transgression appropriate or desirable. The function of the Oireachtas is to provide an oversight role, it is not about control and power, which were the words used by Senator Paschal Donohoe.

Everyone, including political parties and public representatives, will be entitled to make his or her views known during the preparation of the authority’s draft transport strategy. However, the authority will be responsible for preparing the strategy and it is the Minister for Transport who will be responsible for approving it. The Minister will, in turn, be accountable to the Oireachtas for any decision taken in respect of the strategy. The relevant committee of the Oireachtas, currently the Joint Committee on Transport, will be able to call in the authority at any time. It will also have the power to make recommendations to the authority and there is provision for this in section 41. This power can be exercised when the authority is preparing its draft transport strategy if the committee decides it is appropriate to do so. That is the position and I ask the Senator to withdraw the amendment. While it is for the transport committee to exercise its power and its influence to call in the authority, it is the Minister for Transport who is responsible for approving the plan.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I have not discussed the control and power of the Oireachtas over the proposed Dublin transport authority. I fully understand the role of the Minister, his or her executive power, its limitations and the division of power between the Minister and the Oireachtas. I welcome this new organisation that we will establish, but I predict both sides of this and the other House will, at some stage in the future, blame the new authority for what is happening. It is inevitable. It is almost certain that the same Members will ask why they do not have the power to influence the decisions it is making or the power to understand why it is making those decisions. I am pretty sure those points and complaints will not be confined to our side of the House. They will be widely shared by the Minister of State’s colleagues. While I am disappointed the Minister of State is unable to accept the amendment, I will not press
it.

[790]Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 13:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 14:

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 15 not moved.

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 16:

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure appropriate standards of corporate governance are maintained. It would be preferable to have a separation between the governing board and the management in the form of the chief executive to ensure accountability. The Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, on his previous visit to the House indicated that is changing and the trend is in a different direction. The brief surveys I have carried out in the time since Tuesday indicate this is the way to do it. I disagree with the Minister’s response. However, I do not intend to press it today.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 17 not moved.

Acting Chairman: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 18:

It is very important that at least one public representative should be on the board of the GDA. There has been cross-party support for this idea. In previous debates on the Bill many on the Government side indicated that local representatives should be on the board. I ask the Minister of State to consider accepting the amendment.

[791]Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  On Committee Stage I believe the Minister indicated that he was in favour of providing for the possibility of local authority members becoming members of the authority. He has tabled a number of amendments to section 40 to provide for that. However, the Minister is opposed to making it a mandatory requirement that a local authority member be appointed to the authority. It is believed that as the Minister for Transport will be responsible for appointing the members of the authority he should have discretion to pick the best people available, which could include one or more local authority members.

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”

The Seanad divided: Tá, 23; Níl, 12.

Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Maria Corrigan  Zoom on Maria Corrigan  Corrigan, Maria.
Information on Mark Daly  Zoom on Mark Daly  Daly, Mark. Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John.
Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine. Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus.
Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  Hanafin, John. Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás. Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis.
Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan  Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Ned. Information on Kieran Phelan  Zoom on Kieran Phelan  Phelan, Kieran.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Walsh, Jim.
Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.  


Níl
Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  Bradford, Paul. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul. Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Cummins, Maurice.
Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal. Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe.
Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  O’Toole, Joe. Information on Eugene Regan  Zoom on Eugene Regan  Regan, Eugene.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Dan Boyle and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Paschal Donohoe and Brendan Ryan.

Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 19:

The amendment speaks for itself. I urge the Minister of State to accept it.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  This amendment, as proposed, would undermine one of the central tenets of the Bill which is the establishment of a strong, independent, strategic body that will [792]have responsibility for all surface transport in the greater Dublin area. The inclusion of members of existing public transport authorities in the membership of the authority is not being considered. Furthermore, as the authority will also assume responsibility for securing the provision of public transport passenger services by means of contractual arrangements as outlined in Part 3, it would be inappropriate to have members of the public transport service providers acting also as members of the contracting authority. In the circumstances I ask the Senators to withdraw the amendment.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Amendment No. 20 is in the name of Senators Donohoe and Fitzgerald.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I move amendment No. 20:

One of the main themes in the debate is the need for this organisation to be accountable. A major change we are all expecting and looking forward to in local government is the creation of the role of a directly elected lord mayor for the region of Dublin. One of the important elements in ensuring this new office will be effective is to give it the powers and the ability to make a difference to the lives of the people it will represent. It would be disastrous if a major effort was put in to creating a directly elected post and not give it the necessary powers to make a difference to the lives of the people it will represent.

There is no doubt transport is one of the main issues for the people of Dublin. Given that this organisation will have the ability to develop strategy that will make a major difference to the people of the greater Dublin area and the power to implement that strategy, it is imperative that the new post is created in such a way that the office holder will sit on the board, have an opportunity to lead it and is the chairperson of the authority. If this organisation is to work, we must ensure the right element of accountability is in place. More importantly, if the role of a directly elected lord mayor for Dublin is to work, we must ensure that office has the necessary power, and this amendment is vital to making that happen.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  I hear what the Senator is saying but the amendment attempts to amend the Bill now on the basis of what might happen in the future. It is not necessary at this stage. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has just published the Green Paper on local government reform and it includes a proposal for a directly elected mayor for the Dublin region who may become the chair of the Dublin Transport Authority. However, the Green Paper is the subject of consultations and the Minister, Deputy Gormley, has indicated that he will bring forward a White Paper on that issue later this year. Given that the process is at an early stage, it is premature to insert in the Bill a provision along the lines suggested. We should await the outcome of the process currently under way in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. In any event, legislation will be required to give effect to the local government reform and the changes in the governance of the DTA will be implemented at that stage. That will be part of the Department of the Environment, [793]Heritage and Local Government Bill. What the Senator seeks in his amendment may be in order in the future but the process will happen outside of what he suggests. I ask him not to press the amendment.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  We will press this amendment. It is the role of legislation to anticipate what could happen in the future. Government policy clearly articulates that this is something it wants to happen in its term of office. One of the Government’s partners in government is very committed to making this happen because it is a good idea. If it is done properly it should make a major difference to the lives of the people living in and around Dublin.

I witnessed the excitement and interest generated by the mayoralty election in London. One of the main issues in that election was congestion charging and public transport. Much less commented on but equally important was the turnout in interest from mayoralties in places likes Middlesbrough, which have directly elected lord mayors also. There was a high turnout in those elections because the office of the directly elected lord mayor was meaningful. In this amendment we are trying to ensure that when this office is set up it can make a difference.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  As I said, if that happens legislation will be brought forward at that stage. Any change that may seem likely or possible will happen at that stage. It is neither necessary nor sensible to do it now. I understand what the Senator is saying. I am sure the Minister, Deputy Gormley, and the Government generally will be delighted to have the Senator’s wholehearted support for what is contained in the programme for Government, and if this comes about after the formal consultation process, new legislation will be brought forward and the change will be made at that stage. We cannot include in legislation everything that might or might not happen in the future.

Amendment put.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 12; Níl, 23.

Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  Bradford, Paul. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul. Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Cummins, Maurice.
Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal. Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe.
Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  O’Toole, Joe. Information on Eugene Regan  Zoom on Eugene Regan  Regan, Eugene.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.



Níl
Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Maria Corrigan  Zoom on Maria Corrigan  Corrigan, Maria.
Information on Mark Daly  Zoom on Mark Daly  Daly, Mark. Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John.
Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine. Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus.
Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  Hanafin, John. Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás. Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis.
Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan  Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Ned. Information on Kieran Phelan  Zoom on Kieran Phelan  Phelan, Kieran.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Walsh, Jim.
Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.  

Tellers: Tá, Senators Paschal Donohoe and Brendan Ryan; Níl, Senators Dan Boyle and Diarmuid Wilson.

Amendment declared lost.

[794]Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 21:

This amendment, like amendment No. 18, seeks to ensure as much representation as possible from local authority members on the authority. I want to reduce the number of managers on the advisory board and increase the number of elected representatives in their stead.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  The Dublin city manager must play a key role in the authority’s advisory council. To even up representation of the other local authorities in the greater Dublin area, it is proposed to have two of the other six county managers sitting on the advisory council. The composition of the advisory council as it stands provides adequate and appropriate representation for both local authority managers and members. Accordingly, I will not accept the amendment.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Due regard is being given to the need for county managers to be on the advisory council but insufficient account is taken of the need for directly elected representatives on the board.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I move amendment No. 22:

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of organisations, some 16 in total, involved in transport provision for the Dublin area. The Bill provides for the authority to establish its own subsidiary organisations to deal with specific or technical issues. This amendment seeks to acknowledge the ability and power of the authority to do so but to ensure any such established organisations account to the authority regularly and allow it to determine if they are required.

The authority is being established to deal with the proliferation of bodies and agencies dealing with commuter problems. It is, therefore, appropriate the authority does not generate unnecessary bodies. The amendment will allow the authority to review any bodies it establishes to decide whether to prolong or terminate them.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  I understand the Senator’s concerns but cannot accept the amendment. Under section 25, the authority must receive the consent of the Ministers for Transport and Finance before establishing any subsidiary. Such consent would not be given lightly. Both Ministers would have to be satisfied there were real and substantial reasons for establishing a subsidiary. Also, the Department of Finance’s code of practice for the governance of State bodies sets down clear requirements as to the information needed before a decision is made [795]on a proposal to establish a subsidiary. This includes a requirement for a full business case and a range of financial information. The corporate governance permissions of the code apply to subsidiaries in the same way as to parent bodies with the same accountability. Any subsidiary must be established under and comply with the Companies Act. There is ample scope under section 41 for the Committee of Public Accounts, or any other Oireachtas committee, to raise concerns with the authority regarding establishment or the continuing in operation of any of its subsidiaries.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 23:

This amendment provides for a mechanism for public information regarding interests or conflicts of interest on the part of members and staff of the authority. The Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, in response to a similar amendment on Committee Stage, said the authority would be designated for the purpose of access to disclosures under the Standards in Public Office Act. The Report Stage amendment has been adjusted to make clear it will only apply pending such designation. That should relieve the Minister of any difficulty associated with the amendment.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  The Minister for Transport indicated on Committee Stage that disclosure requirements in respect of the authority will be met through the role of the Standards in Public Office Commission which implements the Ethics in Public Office Act and the Standards in Public Office Act. The current procedure involves the Minister for Finance making a regulation to add new bodies to the existing list of prescribed public bodies at the beginning of each year. The order specifies which designated directorships and positions in public bodies are required to make a declaration of interests to the commission.

Once established the authority will be added to the list of prescribed bodies at the earliest opportunity. This is similar to the approach used in bringing new bodies under the remit of the Freedom of Information Act. This is the preferred approach to such disclosure.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Amendments Nos. 24 is consequential on amendment No. 25 and amendment No. 26 is related. Amendments Nos. 24 to 26, inclusive, will be taken together.

Government amendment No. 24:

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Amendment No. 24 tidies up the terms in section 40(1) due to the more substantive amendment No. 25. Amendment No. 25 amends section 40(1)(d) removing the requirement that a member of the authority must relinquish such membership on becoming a [796]member of a local authority. It gives effect to an amendment tabled by Senator Ryan. Amendment No. 26 removes a clause in section 40(5) which disqualified members of a local authority from becoming a member of the Dublin transport authority.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 25:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 26:

Amendment agreed to.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 27:

Immunity from proceedings against individuals acting in good faith on behalf of the authority in accordance with section 43 is acceptable. The blanket immunity against proceedings, however, is not.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

  1 o’clock

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  The purpose of section 43, based on provisions in section 19 of the Roads Act 1993, is to ensure no one can seek to claim damages from, inter alia, the authority or a subsidiary of the authority in circumstances where the authority or its subsidiary fails to conform or comply with its statutory functions. In other words, we are ensuring that no one can take any action against the authority or its subsidiary for something it did not do. It is important to recognise there will be no bar on anyone taking an action regarding alleged damage arising from the exercise by the authority, or a subsidiary, of its statutory functions. That is the situation.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Our amendment explicitly deals with this and ensures that no one is let off the hook with regard to this blanket approach. While I have no intention of pressing the amendment and have listened to what the Minister of State has said, and what the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, said on Tuesday, we will agree to differ in terms of the essential meaning of this section.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 28:

[797]The amendment is self-explanatory. I ask the Minister to respond positively to it.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  I regret I cannot accept the amendment. This chapter of the Bill supports the continued provision by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann of the existing subvented bus services in the greater Dublin area. It also provides that any future growth in the market for subvented services will be addressed by way of public service contracts which will be granted following open tendering, which will allow private operators and Dublin Bus or Bus Éireann, as appropriate, having regard to the geographical remit that applies to their operations, to submit tenders. Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, as well as any other public transport operators, will have the opportunity to compete for such open tendered services in compliance with EU Regulation 1370/2007, which comes into effect on 3 December 2009 and will apply in respect of any public service contract for the provision of subvented public bus passenger services.

Members will recall that in addressing issues in regard to this chapter raised during the debate on Committee Stage, the Minister set out the general background of Regulation 1370/2007. In particular, he referred to the fact that the chapter had been crafted with the direct involvement of the Attorney General’s office to ensure compliance with the provisions contained in the EU regulation. This amendment would, in effect, give priority to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann in the consideration of proposals to issue contracts for new public bus passenger services. That approach would not be in compliance with Regulation 1370/2007 and, in these circumstances, I ask the Senators to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 29:

The amendment increases from five to ten years the duration of the contract to be offered to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. It makes sense and I ask the Minister to accept it.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  While the new EU Regulation 1370/2007 will have full effect from 3 December 2019, following the ten-year period in which it takes effect, member states are being encouraged to take measures to gradually comply with its provision. This chapter of the Bill provides for the first time in Irish transport law a contracting regime to govern the subvention of public bus and rail passenger services in respect of which public service obligations apply.

Section 52 establishes that the three CIE companies have exclusive rights to provide the services that are the subject of State financial support and for growth in respect of rail services, subject to future legislative change. In the case of bus services, the exclusive right is also subject to the grant of bus route licences to private bus operators under the Road Transport Act 1932. Direct award contracts will be entered into with the three CIE companies to support the provision of the funded services that are the subject of those exclusive rights — this is what they currently do.

The section provides that the initial direct award contracts in respect of bus services provided by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann will be for a period of five years. It also provides for the review of such contracts and for the making of subsequent contracts.

The fact the initial direct award contracts are limited to a five-year period, allied to the review provisions and the power to enter into subsequent direct award contracts, ensures the [798]provisions of Regulation 1370/2007 will be fully complied with within the timeframe envisaged in that regulation. This goes back to member states being encouraged to take these measures to gradually comply with the provisions. This is why we are doing this over a five-year term, so that within the ten-year term we will have fully complied. In those circumstances, I ask the Senator to accept that the provision as drafted is correct and to consider withdrawing the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 30:

The amendment does not remove but limits the right of the authority to amend contracts unilaterally. This is helpful to the Bill and, in our view, would certainly improve it. I ask the Minister to accept it.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  EU Regulation 1370/2007 provides that the making of a determination that a public service obligation is to be applied in respect of the provision of public bus and rail passenger services is a matter for the competent authority. That role is vested in the Dublin transport authority, subject to the provisions of the Bill.

For that reason, as well as the associated responsibility given to it to ensure funding for the delivery of the services in respect of which the public service obligation relates is in compliance with Regulation 1370/2007, the authority must be empowered to carry out reviews of the public service contracts at its exclusive discretion. This is encapsulated in section 52(5). I hope this clarifies the position for the Senator. We have had advice from the Attorney General’s office on this aspect. What is laid down is in line with the legal advice.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I will defer to the advice of the Attorney General.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 31:

The amendment is similar to previous amendments.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  As was the case with amendment No. 30, the role of reviewing direct award contracts must rest with the authority. However, in the case of a review under section 52(5)(b), the authority must engage in a public consultation process provided for in section 52(5)(d). As part of that process, the authority is required to consult the service provider as well as other potential interested parties, including the users of the services, before it makes the amendment. The authority is also required, through section 52(5)(e), to publish a report as [799]to the reasons it promoted the amendments made as a result of a review under section 52(5)(b). The section provides the opportunity for all interested parties to make their views known to the authority. I consider that the approach set out is appropriate and, in the circumstances, perhaps the Senator will withdraw his amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I move amendment No. 32:

One important feature of the new organisation will be its ability to be a provider of last resort. On Second Stage the Minister acknowledged the potential difficulty this could cause. The issue is that the organisation could act as a regulator and provider at the same time, thereby creating an inherent conflict of interest. In our discussion, the Minister was good enough to accept an amendment from a party changing the conditions upon which the organisation could step in as a provider of last resort. This is precisely because of the recognition that if the DTA is so badly needed to deal with many of the vested interests in respect of transport in the Dublin region, we need to ensure it will not become a vested interest of itself when it is operational.

My amendment, which is one of the two new amendments we have introduced on Report Stage, recognises that if the authority needs to step in to provide a service in the specific and limited circumstances envisaged in the Bill, the duration for which it can do so should be limited. The amendment suggests a limit but, in recognising the executive role of the Minister, stipulates that he or she may decide to change that limit. This is to ensure the authority will focus on the role upon which it should be focusing, namely, regulation rather than the maintenance of a service it is required to provide according to the conditions laid out in the legislation.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  The intent of section 56 is to allow the authority to intervene to ensure the continued provision of public passenger transport services where there is a complete or partial failure by a public transport operator to provide them. The focus of the section is to establish the circumstances in which such an intervention can take place. An intervention can only arise in respect of a service that is the subject of a public transport services contract and is in operation. To ensure clarity on this issue, an amendment proposed by Senator Donohoe was accepted by the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey.

The focus of the amendment now proposed by Senator Donohoe is to establish either a specific time limit of two years or time limits that would be determined by the Minister and subject to a notice to the Houses of the Oireachtas of any intervention by the authority. As I stated regarding other amendments to this Chapter of the Bill, an essential guiding principle that informed the crafting of the provisions in the Chapter concerned the need to ensure compliance with EU Regulation No. 1370/2007. The regulation establishes a specific structure for the intervention of a competent authority as an operator of last resort. That structure provides that intervention can only occur for a maximum of two years. Were the DTA required to intervene as an operator of last resort, it could only do so in compliance with that regulation.

Acceptance of the amendment would mean there would be a possibility that the period of intervention could last for longer than two years. It would also give a direct role to the Minister [800]to make a determination on the length of an intervention which would not be consistent with the role of the DTA in exercising its role as the competent authority. As I indicated, that role is exercised subject to the provisions of the Bill. We are fundamentally trying to apply and be guided by EU Regulation No. 1370/2007 and, as such, I ask the Senator to withdraw his amendment.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I will withdraw the amendment. From what the Minister of State said, it appears parts of the provision are compliant with the EU directive in terms of the suggested time limit for the provision of a service of last resort. If there are elements that are inconsistent with the directive, we will consider them as the legislation passes through the Dáil.

The intention behind my amendment is good, that is, to ensure the authority will be primarily a regulator and that if it needs to step in as a provider of last resort, it will do so in exceptional circumstances for a very carefully determined duration. The great strength of the DTA will be to deal with the various interests and it would be very unfortunate if it were to end up as one of those interests.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Amendment No. 34 is a logical alternative to amendment No. 33 and they may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 33:

This amendment is important for two reasons. There is a general requirement on operators such as Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann to provide off-street parking, which is certainly very beneficial in promoting traffic flow. Private bus operators often park their buses in residential areas where they live and this can be a nuisance in the estates in question, particularly if the operator has three or four buses. It can cause many problems and give rise to many objections from other residents. Since the Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern, has not accepted any amendments today, and bearing in mind that the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, accepted a few, an opportunity arises for the Minister of State to accede to one amendment. I ask him to do so.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  On Committee Stage, it was stated that section 11 of the Road Transport Act 1999 requires a bus operator, as a condition of his operating licence, to ensure he has adequate parking spaces and operating premises in the State for the vehicles being operated or intended to be operated under the licence. During the course of their day-to-day operations on public roads, bus operators are subject to the Road Traffic Acts, including in respect of parking. The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 enable road authorities to provide short-term bus parking areas but they also enable road authorities to prohibit the parking of large vehicles such as buses at a specified location, such as public roads in residential areas. The enforcement of parking regulations is a matter for the Garda, local authority traffic wardens, etc.

[801]I understand what the Senator is saying about residential areas and I am familiar with the problem. Even Dublin City Council has a set-up whereby one cannot park any bus or lorry over three tonnes in the city. In Dublin city, a general ban is in place except where it is allowed. While Fingal County Council may do it differently, local authorities, working with the Garda, have the power to control the problem raised by the Senator. I accept problems can arise from parking, hanging about and when people set off at 5 a.m. by turning on a blunderbuss of a thing. Part 3, Chapter 4 concerns traffic management and gives the authority scope to develop a vehicle parking strategy for the greater Dublin area generally, which the individual road authorities will be required to implement. The Road Traffic Acts will continue to provide the legal basis for control of parking.

Essentially, sufficient legislation already is in place. Other means already exist and as such, I do not propose to accept the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I move amendment No. 34:

I also wish to address this point. This amendment generated a considerable amount of debate on Committee Stage. Senator Ryan has detailed well the difficulties that such private bus operators can cause in many residential areas. Another aspect that also causes much difficulty is the practice whereby private bus operators park their vehicles or leave them for long periods in locations such as Parnell Square, Mountjoy Square and so on, that are partially residential in nature. Not only does the presence of the buses cause difficulty to the residents, but in many cases such areas are of great architectural and cultural value and they are being gradually eroded by the persistent presence of private buses. Their engines are engaged much of the time and it is having a highly negative effect on both the appeal and appearance of such areas.

I take the Minister of State’s point regarding the existence of legislation and law, ranging from the city council’s by-laws to the laws at the disposal of the Garda Síochána. However, in many cases, for whatever reason, such regulations and laws are not being implemented. Were an organisation such as the proposed authority to step in and do its bit to make a difference, it would be welcome. Such an improvement would be noticed and appreciated by people who live in all kinds of residential communities within the area for which the DTA will be responsible.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  While I already have covered these points, as a condition of their operating licence, operators must have adequate parking spaces. The day-to-day issues regarding parking and control are matters for the Garda and local authorities. As for the locations mentioned by the Senator, such as Parnell Square and Nassau Street, the problem was under considerably less control ten years ago. I accept that private bus operators were parking anywhere and everywhere. At present however, they park in specified, agreed, areas under law and regulation and in agreement with local authorities. This is what can be done and is being done. Legislation is in place for all of these matters. If laws are not being enforced, passing more laws will not make them enforceable.

[802]In the main however, the daytime problem now is managed and controlled in accordance with existing regulations. Parking in Parnell Square, Nassau Street, Dublin Castle or wherever is done by agreement. As for overnight parking or similar activities, regulations are in place to prevent it if the local authority wishes to do so. However, operators are meant to have adequate parking as a condition of their operating licence. A driver who is on an early morning run and who decides to bring it home can be dealt with under existing legislation.

I am most familiar with city conditions and while I do not suggest they are perfect — nothing is — significant areas exist in which one cannot park anything over three tonnes at night. The Garda might try by persuasion to implement this provision. If not, the clampers constitute the fall-back plan, which usually carries more clout. However, the regulations already are in place and it is not necessary to amend them further.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 35:

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 36:

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 37 not moved.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I move amendment No. 38:

This amendment ensures the authorised officer’s power is constitutional. When I raised this issue on Committee Stage, the Minister stated the amendment was not necessary and implied it was not used in other legislation. However, this is incorrect. Similar wording is used in many other recent Acts and I will cite three of them. I refer to section 17 of the Irish Medicines Board (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006, sections 96 and 131 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and section 16 of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004. These constitute three good examples in which this provision is used and appears to be required. The sense of what is appropriate prompted me to table the amendment in the first place. My comments today are in response to the Minister’s comments on Committee Stage. The amendment should be accepted this time, based on the information I have provided.

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I second the amendment.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  I heard the Senator’s point on his three examples and cannot state whether he is correct in this regard. As he noted, the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, accepted the importance of protecting legal professional privilege. The Minister stated that in [803]his view, such privilege did not require specific mention in each new item of legislation. I heard the Senator’s comments on the three examples but this matter has been checked with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and confirmed by it. That office has stated it is not necessary to include it each time because the general provision covers it. In what years were the Acts mentioned by the Senator passed? Were they passed recently?

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  They were passed in 2006, 2005 and 2004.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  All I can say is that following the debate on Committee Stage, this matter was discussed with the Parliamentary Counsel, who has confirmed it is not necessary to include this provision because it is already covered in another general provision and as such, there is no need to accept it.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  My intention was to safeguard the legislation against constitutional challenge. The advice I have provided has been rejected and I will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 39:

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  This amendment arises from a procedural error that arose on Committee Stage, which led to the inadvertent deletion of section 80(3). The position is that on Committee Stage, while Government amendment No. 29, which provided for the deletion of a subsection in section 20 was withdrawn, amendment No. 84, which was related, and should also have been withdrawn, was agreed to. The purpose of the amendment under discussion therefore is to reinsert the original subsection. I regret any confusion caused and ask Members to support the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Senator Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  I take this opportunity to thank the Minister and his staff for work at all Stages of this legislation. On this side of the House we recognise the importance of it and of this new organisation working effectively. I thank them for the manner in which they have responded to the work done by this side of the House.

Senator John Ellis: Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  I also wish to be associated with the remarks of Senator Donohue to the staff and to the Minister for Transport, Deputy Noel Dempsey, and to wish the Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern, well in his new role in the Department of Transport.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I wish to be associated with the remarks of the two previous Senators and to thank the Minister, the Minister of State and their staff for their attentive response to several of the amendments.

[804]Minister of State at the Department of Transport (Deputy Noel Ahern): Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  On behalf of the Minister for Transport, Deputy Noel Dempsey, and on my own part, I thank the Senators for their contributions which I understand have been very constructive all along. I was not here to witness all their efforts but I know the commitment involved, particularly on the Opposition side, in going through a detailed Bill such as this. I thank them for their efforts. I am sorry that we were not able to accept more amendments but I understand that in the earlier part of the process, some of the points made on Committee Stage gave food for thought and some amendments were taken on board.

We have been talking at different political levels about the need for a Dublin Transport Authority for a number of years and I am sure that all are glad to see it finally established. It is to be hoped that it will do the work required and that some of the fears which people might have had will not come back to haunt us. I thank the Senators for their commitment and co-operation.

Senator Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Perhaps there will be an opportunity in the future to take a more general view.

Deputy Noel Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Indeed. I wish to thank Senators for their personal good wishes. The Minister, Deputy Dempsey, is from County Meath, which is only out the road so he should have some good knowledge of the general Dublin area. It is probably unusual for me to be passing compliments to a Meath man but I can put my pennyworth in as a Dublin representative and a former member of Dublin City Council. He is not from very far away and he comes through the traffic every day so between himself and his officials there must be good knowledge of the problems. I thank all for their remarks and their co-operation.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  I congratulate the Minister of State and wish him well in his new portfolio.

Question put and agreed to.

Leas-Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  When is it proposed to sit again?

Senator John Ellis: Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Next Tuesday at 2.30 p.m.


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