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Minister for Transport Shane Ross has described the potential Brexit impact as a ‘geopolitical, economic earthquake’.

23/01/2017 | Irish Times | The cancellation of flights from Donegal to Glasgow, Scotland,
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We can take on world’s best and win – a look back on an incredible year for Irish sport as tourism to hit record high

Shane Ross | 26/12/2016 | The Sun | ‘We may be a small island nation, but we have pr
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Minister for Transport Shane Ross has described the potential Brexit impact as a ‘geopolitical, economic earthquake’.

23/01/2017 | Irish Times |

Minister Shane Ross TD

The cancellation of flights from Donegal to Glasgow, Scotland, a 50 per cent per cent slump in second hand car sales, and a slowdown in growth at Rosslare Europort in Co Wexford are among the effects of Brexit already being experienced.

That is according to delegates at a Department of Transport think-in on the effects of Brexit, in Dundalk on Monday.

More than 100 representatives from transport sectors engaged in a series of round table discussions on what Minister for Transport Shane Ross described as the “geopolitical economic earthquake” which was Brexit.

Mr Ross revealed a possible solution to the problem of cross-Border goods traffic was to have lorry “depots” where customs clearance could take place, in a bid to deal with predicted traffic tail backs many kilometres long.

“It is one idea I’ve heard mentioned in the department” he said. He was responding after delegates said a “best possible” customs processing time of eight minutes for lorries leaving Dublin Port, would result in a tail back of 15 kilometres at peak times.

Similar or worse delays were anticipated at the Border with Northern Ireland where 326,000 vehicles crossed the Border in the northwest region alone each week.

A number of haulage companies also spoke of the need to improve the skills of staff on customs clearance requirements.

While transport companies Matthews Coaches reported buying 11 vehicles from the UK thanks in part to the drop in the value of sterling, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry said sales of second hand cars had dropped by up to 50 percent for the same reason.

Discussion facilitator Monika Wallace told the conference two weekly flights between Donegal airport and Glasgow had already been cancelled due to the drop in sterling, and negotiations over the future of the service were hampered by uncertainty.

She also said Rosslare Europort had reported a slowing down of growth because of the sterling differential and uncertainty about ongoing cross border arrangements.

The question of trade through Derry Airport, much of which is destined for the Republic was also raised as were the jobs of workers in the northwest who crossed the Border to Northern Ireland every day for work. Facilitator Ray O’Leary of the Department of Transport said it had been suggested by hauliers that electronic processing of traffic, as opposed to paper certification, should be explored.

Other issues raised by delegates included potential difficulties in getting fresh fish from Killybegs to France, should the route through the UK prove difficult and the future of the Commissioners of Irish Lights which was associated with lighthouses across the UK.

Facilitator Mary Lally said tree growers generally believed they were selling product to Irish buyers but it was not generally known that 75 per cent of such product went to the UK.

Niall Gibbons of all-island body Tourism Ireland said research carried out by Red Sea just last week showed 18 per cent of British people surveyed said the Brexit vote would influence their holiday choice in 2017. He said the number of travellers from Britain – to all destinations – would fall by 2.5 per cent with Ireland particularly exposed. But he said tourist numbers coming from “mainland Europe” were catching up on Britain, with numbers from America being particularly strong.

Mr Gibbons said tourism interests would “have to fight” just to keep market share from Britain. Remaining competitive would be key, he said

We can take on world’s best and win – a look back on an incredible year for Irish sport as tourism to hit record high

Shane Ross | 26/12/2016 | The Sun |

‘We may be a small island nation, but we have proven we can take on global giants in whatever sport we put our minds to’.

WHAT a year to be an Irish sports fan.

Our rugby team beat the trio of giants from the Southern Hemisphere — Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

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The country — north and south — came together to launch a serious bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. In 2017, we will host the Women’s Rugby World Cup at stadia all over Ireland. Meanwhile in soccer, Martin O’Neill’s boys won the match that propelled us to the top of our group in Austria last month — and makes qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia all the more likely. We are set to host four matches during Euro 2020.

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Our Olympians and Paralympians inspired millions with their dedication and commitment to their disciplines at the Rio Games and our elite ¬golfers continue to command the world stage. Today is one of the most famous horseracing days of the year when many of us will be heading to Leopardstown or Limerick for a flutter.

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We’re known to be experts in all things equine so it’s hardly surprising that the horse industry — sporting and breeding — contributes more than €1.1billion annually to the economy. We may be a small island nation, but we have proven we can take on global giants in whatever sport we put our minds to. I’d like to thank all who contribute so much to the success of our sports industry professionally, but particularly those volunteers and amateurs whose sporting and coaching commitments to their communities are truly priceless. Simultaneously, 2016 is set to be the best year ever for overseas tourism to Ireland — surpassing all previous records.

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The latest CSO figures confirm over 8.9 million people visited in the first 11 months of 2016. That is an amazing 11 per cent increase by the end of November — and rising. To say this is an exciting time to be Minister of both the Sport and Tourism portfolios is an understatement. Last week I was delighted to announce that €30million is being made available under the Sports Capital Programme to develop sports infrastructure around the country. This programme has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland with improvements in virtually every village, town and city. I’d strongly urge all sports and community organisations with a suitable project to make an application. Sports tourism used to be a niche market but it’s now a major part of our economic and social infrastructure. And why not combine our country’s love of sport and our warm welcome for visitors with economic benefits? It is a win-win for all involved.

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At last month’s Global Sports Tourism Awards in London, Ireland was shortlisted in no fewer than eight out of nine categories. The opportunities presented by sports tourism are boundless and the figures involved staggering. Currently, the global sports tourism industry is worth a cool €450bn. Each year, for example, 150,000-plus golfers come here to play on our golf courses, adding about €200m to the economy. Conservative estimates of what hosting the Rugby World Cup would add to Irish coffers are in the region of €8bn. Whether it’s to celebrate a win or drown sorrows, sports tourists tend to spend double the amount regular tourists do, so this is a huge opportunity for us to capitalise upon — locally and nationally.
• APPLY for sports grants at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie

https://www.thesun.ie/news/353030/we-can-take-on-worlds-best-and-win-a-look-back-on-an-incredible-year-for-irish-sport-as-tourism-to-hit-record-high/

 

Press Release: €30M Grants Scheme for Improved Sports Facilities and Equipment

21/12/2016 | Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’ Donovan T.D., announced today that €30m is being made available under the Sports Capital Programme to develop sports infrastructure around the country.

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In this regard, online applications will be accepted from the 23rd January to the 24th February, 2017. Clubs not previously registered on the Department’s online application system need to do so in advance of this date and the Ministers encouraged clubs to register now. The guide to making an application was also published on the Department’s Sports Capital Programme website today ( www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie ).

Minister Ross stated “I am delighted that this funding is being made available. The Sports Capital Programme aims to foster an integrated and planned approach to developing sport and recreation facilities and it has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland with improvements in the quality and quantity of sporting facilities in virtually every village, town and city in the country. The new €30 million programme provides an opportunity for further improvements and I would urge all organisations with a suitable project to consider making an application”.

The Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan highlighted some of the changes to the terms of the new programme. “The Programme for Government contains the aim of allocating sports capital grants on an annual basis and since being given responsibility for sport, I have been struck by the huge level of interest in the Sports Capital Programme across so many different sporting disciplines. I was determined to make the application process as simple as possible and in this regard we have significantly shortened the application form, issued new guides for completing the form and my Department is also arranging a series of regional workshops in the new year to assist applicants. The upcoming holiday period provides a good opportunity for clubs to get registered on www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie, familiarise themselves with the guide and undertake any other preparatory work in advance of formally submitting their application”.

Clubs who wish to register on the Department’s online system can do so now at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie. Once registered, all applications must be made on the same website. The system will be open for applications from the 23rd January. A guide to making an application and a link to YouTube video instructions is also available on the website.

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Press Release: Road Traffic Bill 2016 passes

20/12/2016 | Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD today welcomed the passing of the Road Traffic Bill 2016 by the Oireachtas.

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The Bill contains a series of reforms dealing with drug driving; written off vehicles; mutual recognition of driver disqualifications between Ireland and the UK; uninsured drivers; and a new optional 20km/h speed limit in built-up areas among other measures.

The main provisions outlined in the Bill are detailed below:

Drug Driving

An Garda Síochána have been given new powers to test drivers for drugs at the roadside. Current provisions for Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT) checkpoints will be extended to provide for Mandatory Intoxication Testing (MIT) checkpoints testing drivers for both alcohol and drugs.

Under the new measures, Gardaí can ask drivers to undergo a preliminary drug test for cannabis, cocaine, a range of opiates (including heroin and morphine) and a range of benzodiazepines (including diazepam and flurazepam).

Speaking after the passing of the Bill Minister Ross said: “The new powers given to the Gardaí to test for drugs at the roadside will allow them to test for a wide range of drugs which could not be previously tested for. These represent 95% of all drugs found by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety in samples sent to it for confirmatory testing in 2015.”

Minister Ross added that; “drivers taking opiates and benzodiazepines prescribed by their doctors, [who are taking these prescribed drugs in accordance with their prescriptions, and are not impaired], have nothing to fear from the new measures. However, drivers abusing drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, benzodiazepines and opiate and driving while impaired will face a minimum disqualification of 4 years for their first offence and 6 years for their second and subsequent offence.”

A new offence of driving/being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle with the presence of three illicit drugs (Cannabis, Cocaine, and Heroin) has also been introduced. This means that for the first time drivers found above new legal thresholds for these drugs will commit an offence without An Garda Síochána having to prove impairment as is currently the case under existing legislation.

In seeking to address concerns of those prescribed Sativex (which contains cannabis) for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, the Minister introduced in the Bill a medical exemption certificate for those prescribed with Sativex so that they do not fall under the new offence. This will ensure that they cannot be arrested for driving with cannabis in their system. He warned however, that if such drivers are impaired, they face the same sanctions as other drivers under existing drug driving legislation.

Written-off vehicles

The Minister said that; “In addition to current legislation on defective vehicles, the provisions in this Bill change the current arrangements between the insurance industry and my Department in relation to domestic write-offs from ‘voluntary’ to ‘statutory’. All insurers will be statutorily required to notify my Department of category A (irreparable and fit for scrap only) and category B (useful for viable spare parts only) write-offs so that these vehicles’ records can be locked down on the National Vehicle and Driver File and their circulation prevented.”

Mutual Recognition of Driving Disqualifications with the UK

The Bill will give effect to an agreement with the UK on mutual recognition of driver disqualifications which was signed in October 2015. If a driver is disqualified in the UK they are automatically barred from driving abroad, as they do not have a valid licence. However, if a driver from the UK is disqualified from driving in Ireland, the ban applies only in Ireland, the country that imposed it. The person could still drive in UK or anywhere else. The Minister commented that; “The provisions to back up the new agreement on mutual recognition of driver disqualification between ourselves and the UK will ensure that dangerous drivers who are a risk to the public are kept off the roads in both jurisdictions.”

20km/h Speed Limit

The Bill creates a new option for local authorities to impose a special speed limit of 20km/h in built-up areas. This will be in addition to the existing possible speed limits for built-up areas of 50km/h, 40km/h and 30km/h. The Minister added that; “the new speed limit option has been introduced following the Jake’s Legacy campaign. This was set up following the tragic death of six year old Jake Brennan who was killed in a road traffic incident in the housing estate where he lived. A new special speed limit of 20km/hour is now being made available for local authorities to impose where they see fit.”

Uninsured drivers

The increasing number of uninsured drivers is a huge concern and one of the issues identified to tackle this problem has been the Garda Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system which is reliant on information provided by the insurance industry in respect of insured drivers. While this data set has proven to be unreliable to date, the Bill provides for detailed information that the insurance industry must now provide which will address this exact issue.

The Minister said that; “This is a very vital provision which will allow for the establishment of the Insured and Uninsured Database by Insurance Ireland and MIBI which will provide reliable data to An Garda Síochána to enable them to detect uninsured drivers and take them off our roads.”

Measures to ensure that drivers convicted in court have penalty points endorsed on their driver record

The Bill provides for a new requirement for the presiding judge to ask a driver convicted in court for a driving offence to produce their licence to the court. The court will then record the licence details, or the fact that it was not produced with failure to produce a licence an offence. Speaking today, the Minister said; “This new provision addresses a significant loophole in our legislation whereby some drivers were escaping having their penalty points recorded on their licences following conviction in court.”

In conclusion, the Minister commented that; “the Road Traffic Bill 2016 is a major step forward in many areas – the fight against drug driving in particular. Its other provisions will also improve our laws and help to keep all of our citizens safer on the roads, and to keep dangerous drivers off them. I look forward to the signing of this Bill into law, and I am looking forward to implementing its provisions as soon as possible.”

Unaccompanied learner drivers

We know, unfortunately, that there is a real and continuing problem with learner drivers who persist in driving unaccompanied on our roads despite this being illegal. The question of responsibility regarding owners who knowingly allow learners to drive their cars unaccompanied has been highlighted by the family of Geraldine and Louise Clancy, who were tragically killed in an incident for which an unaccompanied learner driver was found responsible. Speaking today, the Minister said “I was pleased to be able to work with my parliamentary colleagues on this extremely important Bill, and to include an amendment proposed by Deputy Imelda Munster TD, with regard to unaccompanied learner drivers. Learners who drive unaccompanied are committing an offence, and I think it is reasonable to see people who knowingly facilitate this offence as sharing a responsibility for it.”

The Minister added that he “will engage with the Office of the Attorney General as quickly as possible in the new year to ensure that this provision is sufficiently robust for early commencement and enforcement.”

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Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
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Initial Publication Date:
20/12/2016

Hell hath no fury like a Justice scorned

Hell hath no fury like a Justice scorned | Shane Ross | Irish Times | 07/12/16 |

 It is important, as the chief justice has said, that politicians and judges “owe respect to the other”.

And so we should. A prerequisite for such respect is that the method of judicial appointments is transparent and democratic. Currently, it is not.

My Independent Alliance colleagues and I inserted a few paragraphs in the Programme for Government insisting on long overdue reforms in the selection and scrutiny of our judges.

The judges have greeted the proposals with thunder in their voices.

The dogs in the street know that party -political loyalties have played a shameful part in the selection of Judges in Ireland. Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour barristers have often been forced to wait for regime change until they were elevated to the bench.

I have campaigned for reform of this flawed system for years. I wrote chapters in books on it. I even suggested that interviews might be held for the first time ever. Being recently privileged with a place in the cabinet seemed a pretty good perch from which to implement the changes. Fine Gael agreed to them. At long last it seems that the appointment of judges is to be taken out of the political arena.

And it is. Even Fianna Fail has agreed that the good old days of governments appointing party pals to the bench are over.

A new Bill hit the Dail a few weeks ago, largely removing the selection of judges from the political arena.

The Bill was proposed by a Fianna Fail barrister, Jim O’ Callaghan. It was warmly welcomed in the Dail by all sides, as it tackled the cancer of political patronage. A few other barrister TDs, besides Jim, joined Frances Fitzgerald and me in our initial welcome of the breakthrough.

The Bill was far from perfect. While it largely removed political leverage, it gave someone else– legal eagles– a majority on the new commission selecting judges. The old system, a board that sent up a long, long list of likely names to the minister for justice, would end. Under Jim’s Bill the judiciary and their legal friends would control the choice. Political patrons would be replaced by legal insiders.

Ireland’s judges will not have been displeased by what they call “Jim’s Bill”. Yet the prospect of legal eagles in control of the appointment of judges runs directly contrary to the Programme for Government’s commitment. We welcome judges and lawyers on the selection board, but not in control. The Independent Alliance agreed to an independent layperson in the chair, flanked by a majority of lay people advised by judges and lawyers, offering their expertise. The chief Justice would be welcome among their number. While all the lawyers would be full members, the legal profession’s iron grip would be loosened. We do not want to see judges on the inside appointing their chosen ones. What sort of replacement would that be for political cronyism? And, acknowledging an omission in the programme for government, I proposed that Judges should be legally obliged to declare all their financial and other interests. Just like TDs.

Perhaps prompted by some rather colourful rhetoric from me and by Fianna Fail support in the form of Jim’s Bill, Ireland’s lawyers took to the media. Two weeks ago the chief justice broke cover. The newspapers responded with massive coverage. I came under sustained attack. Journalist Colm Keena chastised me for alleged “inaccuracies.” Keena himself, without checking with me, put his name to an article claiming that I had insisted on attending a meeting with the judges “having learned of the meeting”. Keena was not “inaccurate.” He was wrong.

The powerful law lobby moved into full gear. The number of lawyers offered space to defend their patches was staggering. The Irish Times led the field in giving openings to this privileged group. Ten days ago the chairman of the Bar Council Paul McGarry penned a piece entitled “Criticism a threat to independence of the Judiciary”. On Friday columnist Noel Whelan headed his column “Ross’s fixation on judges is mere political posturing”. OK, but perhaps Whelan’s eagerness proves a transparency point. In his hard hitting piece , addressing the Independent Alliance ( whom he dislikes) and the legal eagles (his colleagues) he fails to reveal not one , but two , missing declarations of interests. Readers might be surprised to know that Whelan is a former Dail and Seanad candidate for Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail. Nor does he mention that he is a senior counsel. His political comments echo those of Jim O’Callaghan, the Fianna Fail barrister in the Dail. His column serves both Fianna Fail and the legal eagles well. Pity he didn’t declare his interests.

Such transparency does not fit well with the traditions of the Law Library where Noel does his day job.. No doubt Noel does not nurse any ambitions to hit the bench? He would undoubtedly have told us.

He maintains that in the present controversy it is politics, not the appointments system, that are the issue. He is wrong. The judges and the lawyers, like Noel, are the issue. Nor is it just the appointments, it is the near- impossibility of removing a bad judge, that must be resolved in coming legislation.

Judges are good at fighting rearguard actions. Their opposition to a cut in their pay in the 2009 referendum was not their finest hour. Nor do they like being challenged. Most of them are good people, doing an honest job. Following the chief justice’s foray into the public arena, the president of the Circuit Court Raymond Groarke hit the headlines. In an intemperate response to the prospect of a shortage of judges, he declared that if the government did not give him judges he would not be able to “obey their legislative strictures”. I am sure the judge did not intend to imply that he was willing to break the law. In response to Judge Groarke– and to ensure that we do not obstruct the needs of justice- the government has agreed to appoint new judges, albeit under the old flawed system.

Judge Groarke, might in turn, listen to the chief justice’s words of the need for “respect for the other”. Let alone for the law of the land.

Unedited version of article published in the Irish Times 07/12/2016

 

 

Press Release: 2016 Christmas & New Year Anti Drink Driving Campaign

Stark and devastating detail in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad from the RSA released today.

| December 1st 2016 | 

Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Shane Ross TD has praised the parents of a little boy – killed by a drunk driver – for their bravery and generosity in leading the Christmas and New Year campaign against drink driving.

In an emotional and hard-hitting speech, Minister Ross saluted Gillian and Ronan Treacy, who lost their four-year-old son Ciaran in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in 2014.

Crashed Lives

The story of Gillian and Ronan – together with the Emergency Services who attended the scene of the collision and the medical team who fought to save Ciaran’s life while his mother was treated for horrific injuries – is told in stark and devastating detail in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad from the RSA released today.

Minister Ross said:

“I just say ‘we salute you.’ It’s a fantastically brave and courageous thing to have done for everybody in the country and I have no doubt that you will save lives by what you’ve done today – by allowing this film to be made.”

At the event, which was also attended by the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and RSA Chairwoman Liz O’Donnell, Minister Ross said;

“Today we are here to try, with Gillian and Ronan’s help, to ensure that it [this tragedy] doesn’t happen again and that’s what this campaign is all about. I don’t think we can dismiss road deaths as ‘somebody else’s’ problem. Our message here today is that it is all our problem. It’s not just that we shouldn’t be drinking and driving ourselves but that we have a public duty in our daily lives to discourage other people from doing it. Drink driving kills, maims and shatters lives.”

“We did think that drinking and driving had become socially unacceptable, that it was a generational thing, only acceptable in the 80’s and 90’s and that it had ended.

This is not true. The reality is that it is a serious problem. And it has either dipped and is now resurrected, or it actually never went away. That is something that we, as legislators, and the Road Safety Authority and everybody in their daily lives have got to recognise and say, ‘we need to renew our crusade to stop people drinking and driving’.”

Minister Ross noted that road deaths this year are up by 20% and said that this is “completely and utterly unacceptable”.

He added, “I think this might indicate to us a more serious message – that while campaigns have been successful in their own way, that they are not enough – that we in government and in joint ventures and crusades with the RSA should look at other ways to combat this, as well as work in tandem.”

“The figures show the quite devastating reality that in 38% of fatal accidents alcohol played a part – alcohol was there, was consumed. Those figures come from 2012 and I’m told by those who work in the area that anecdotally things have gotten much worse since then. So this is urgent and it’s not anything we can claim to have beaten in any way. The trend is upwards and we have to do something about it.”

Minister Ross added that the Road Traffic Bill went through committee stage yesterday and should be passed before Christmas.

“This has some pretty sensible laws to combat drug driving, speed driving in housing estates and more efficient court procedures, “ he said.

“I think we have to recognise that we’re going to have to take some hard decisions in order to stop this curse which is taking away lives – young and old – and causing so many tragedies. I have been working with the Tánaiste in other forums and we will be absolutely determined to – if not remove – then reduce this scourge.

And the part played by Gillian and Ronan here today in doing that is something to which I think we should all pay tribute.”

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A successful Irish Rugby World Cup bid will lift us all

Our recent sporting successes can propel us on to better things socially and politically

| Sunday Independent | 20th November 2016 | Shane Ross

The Rugby World Cup

The battle to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup — the William Webb Ellis trophy — is being hotly contested by Ireland.

Martin McGuinness mellows at the mention of it. Arlene Foster follows it. So do Enda Kenny and Frances Fitzgerald. Former Labour Tanaiste Dick Spring mastered it. Last week Northern politicians crossed the sectarian divide to praise it. In Armagh and Dublin sovereign governments promised to fund it jointly. Men play it. Women play it.

 

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No, it is neither cricket nor Gaelic football. The game of rugby is uniting Ireland. As a schoolboy, at the very English Rugby public school, every day of my life I passed a plaque commemorating William Webb Ellis, the renowned inventor of rugby football.

In 1823, according to the script on the stone embedded in the wall beside the pitch , Webb Ellis “with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time, picked up the ball in his arms and ran with it”.

As schoolboys we often wondered if Webb Ellis was a mythical rugbeian – if the story of his exploit was a mere marketing tool to justify the high fees at Rugby school. If he was, he was a genius.

Exactly 200 later the Webb Ellis brand is taking Ireland by storm. The battle to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup – the William Webb Ellis trophy – is being hotly contested by Ireland. We are one of the last three bidders standing, with only France and South Africa remaining in our way.

Last Tuesday the island’s two governments launched Ireland’s bid in Dublin’s magnificent Aviva Stadium. As Minister for Sport, I was privileged to share the podium with Sinn Fein’s McGuinness, Simon Hamilton of the DUP, Enda Kenny, Dick Spring and Frances Fitzgerald.

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In a slightly overboard comment, I remarked that it was a tribute to the great game of rugby that politicians like me can sit on a common platform with others whom I might once have happily sent to Mars on a one-way ticket, in the name of rugby football. The sentiment is undoubtedly mutual.

Rugby is bringing strange bedfellows together. Brexit may separate us further from our Northern brethren but if we land the Rugby World Cup tournament for Ireland, it could prove the biggest commercial coup in the island’s history. Ireland, North and South, is uniting to pay the costs of the tournament. The Republic will pay 85pc while Northern Ireland will pay 15pc. We in this part of the island will provide the bulk of the stadia. The potential returns are mind-boggling.

The symbolism is staggering. You could hardly find two stadia with more contrasting histories than south Dublin’s Royal Dublin Society and north of the Liffey’s Croke Park. The RDS, a traditional haven for Ireland’s upper crust, is entering a joint venture with Croke Park, the people’s sporting mecca. Other stadia included in the Rugby World Cup bid are the GAA’s finest and best, Cork’s Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium, Derry’s Celtic Park and, hopefully, Belfast’s Casement Park.

The GAA is playing a noble role in generously offering pitches to a game that it might once have considered the creation of a foreigner like Webb Ellis. Thanks to the enlightened attitudes of today’s sporting leaders, North and South, those days are a distant memory.

The bid could not have come at a better moment. Ireland stands at a sporting pinnacle. Just two weeks ago we beat the All Blacks in Chicago, attracting a record crowd for a rugby match in the US. Irish rugby history was made in America. The world took note.

Only one week ago, not unexpectedly, our somewhat weakened Irish rugby team beat Canada in the Aviva. The surprise was not the result, but the numbers in attendance. There was no spare seat in the ground. The momentum from the tantalising victory in the US had carried over to a lesser match in Dublin.

And at the very moment that we were beating Canada at rugby in the Aviva, over a thousand miles away in Vienna, our soccer team was pulling off a shock victory over Austria. Martin O’Neill’s Irish boys won three points in an away game. Martin’s men shot to the top of their group, suddenly looking likely qualifiers for another World Cup, this time, in football, in Moscow, in 2018.

Today, wherever there is a World Cup, there is Ireland in hot pursuit. Already we are destined to host the Women’s Rugby World Cup next year at stadia all over Ireland. In the face of the divisive Brexit, ambitions that we may be able to unite our separate, but successful, soccer teams have been revived.

The mood in the Aviva at Tuesday’s launch was one of confidence that we were unstoppable. The celebration of Irish sport continued into the North-South Ministerial Council in Armagh on Friday. Both Arlene Foster, Martin McGuinness and I – as Sports Minister – repeated our support for the rugby project in a political forum. The bid is snowballing.

We are now embarking on a year-long crusade to convince World Rugby that we deserve the accolade. The winner will be announced in November 2017.

Our words are not just lip service. The bid is not a risk free adventure. The tournament fee of €120m has been guaranteed by both governments while other risks of €200m have again been underwritten. We expect any expenditure on stadia and other expenses will be repaid in spades by packed houses, huge tourism benefits and global reputational rewards.

If the UK’s experience as the host country in 2015 is any guide, our stadia will be packed with over 95pc occupancy. The sports division of my department has done the sums. The Cabinet has passed the project with enthusiasm.

The lead taken by rugby has proved infectious. On Thursday I was back in the Aviva launching another sports initiative with Ellen Keane, the 21-year-old Paralympic bronze medallist heroine, Martin O’Neill and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan.

This time we were building on the success of our Paralympian heroes, plus rugby, plus soccer. We were launching a national sports consultation to include the whole nation in a vision for Irish sport in the next decade. Irish sport is lifting Irish politics. Not only are our fans and players far more important ambassadors for Ireland than any politician, but the old mantra that we should “keep politics out of sport” has been turned on its head. We are so proud of our Paralympians, our soccer and our rugby players that we are striving to “keep sport in politics”. The campaign to bring the William Webb Ellis trophy to Ireland is a national imperative.

Shane Ross TD is Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross Visits Irish Lights Headquarters

Minister for Transport Shane Ross Visits Irish Lights Headquarters

| 9th November 2016 |

 minister-shane-ross-at-lighthouse

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross meets Stephen Kelly, Irish Lights while visiting the Irish Lights headquaters and marine depot in Dun Laoghaire.

Minister for Transport, Shane Ross paid a visit to the Commissioners of Irish Lights headquarters in Dun Laoghaire Harbour recently.

Irish Lights operate an essential safety navigation service around the island of Ireland aimed at protecting people, property and the environment at sea. Afloat adds this involves the use of an aids to navigation tender, ILV Granuaile, the workhorse of CIL’s marine operations which is based in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The facility there includes the main depot for buoy repair and maintenance. 

Minister Ross heard about the range of new technologies that are enabling better navigation services for the mariner and the provision of new services such as environmental and ocean data for improved weather forecasting and planning of commercial activities at sea.

The service ensures that over 300 general aids to navigation (physical and electronic) operate reliably and to international standards around our coast 24/7 and 365 days of the year. Irish Lights also inspects and monitors over 4000 local aids around the coast.

Irish Lights also supports the Great Lighthouses of Ireland initiative which sees almost 200,000 tourists annually visiting working lighthouses. Accommodation is available in selected lighthouses on a year-round basis.

http://www.afloat.ie/port-news/lighthouses/item/34230-minister-shane-ross-td-visits-irish-lights-headquarters

Press Release: ROAD-USERS URGED TO ‘BE SAFE AND BE SEEN’ AS CLOCKS GO BACK

RSA and An Garda Síochána launch October Bank Holiday Weekend Campaign

| 27 October 2016 |

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With the clocks going back this weekend, heralding darker days, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have today urged road-users to ensure they can be clearly seen when out on the roads. The most effective way to do this is to wear high visibility clothing such as a high viz vest or a Sam Browne belt when walking, cycling or motorcycling and by ensuring you have working lights on your bicycle, motorcycle and car.

Over the past five years, six people have been killed and 33 people have been seriously injured during the October Bank Holiday Weekend.* The RSA and An Garda Síochána are reminding road-users to ‘be safe and be seen’, particularly on poorly-lit rural roads. A study conducted by the RSA in November 2015 monitored the high visibility wearing rates of 3,990 motorcyclists and 17,637 pedal cyclists. The study found that:
• 58% of motorcyclists were observed wearing high visibility clothing, an increase of 21% when compared to 2014
• 50% of pedal cyclists were observed wearing high visibility clothing, an increase of 20% on 2014 wearing rates
• Wearing rates were more prevalent among private cyclists (54%) than cyclists using public bike schemes (33%)
• 80% of all pedal cyclists had some reflective material on them.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD said: “The evenings will get much darker from this weekend on, so it is even more important that pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists wear high visibility clothing when out on the road. Don’t put your life, or the lives of others, at risk by making it difficult for other road-users to see you.”

The RSA also conducted a survey of the attitudes and behaviours of over 1,000 road-users towards wearing high visibility clothing. Over one third (41%) of pedestrians said they always or often wear reflective gear such as a high visibility jacket, vest or belt when out walking. This was a decrease of 8% when compared to 2014. The survey also found that those living in rural areas were more likely to wear high visibility gear than those in urban areas (43% v 16%).

Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “It is very encouraging to see that high visibility wearing rates are increasing among motorcyclists and cyclists. It really is critical that road-users ensure they are visible to others on the road, every time they go out for a walk, cycle or on the bike. Don’t leave it to chance or expect other road-users to see you – it might be too late before they do. For parents and guardians, if your child walks or cycles to school, make sure they can be seen by ensuring they wear reflective clothing and have working lights on their bicycle. If your child gets the bus to school, it’s also important that they can be seen at the bus stop by the bus driver and other road-users.”

The RSA and An Garda Síochána are also urging motorists to ensure their lights are in working order. An observational study conducted by the RSA in November 2015 found that 1 in 10 (8%) vehicles surveyed had at least one defective light. This was more prevalent on rural roads than urban roads, and vehicles were more likely to have defective front lights (5%) than rear lights (3%).

Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid, An Garda Síochána said: “Driving a vehicle with defective lights is extremely dangerous and unacceptable. In simple terms, other road-users could mistake a vehicle with only one working light for a motorcycle or bicycle. It could also impair your ability to see pedestrians on the roads. As winter approaches, it is vital that we take proper care of our vehicles. That means fixing problems as soon as they happen and taking care to ensure our vehicles are in proper roadworthy condition, at all times.”

To help drivers stay alert behind the wheel over the Bank Holiday Weekend, the RSA and Applegreen will provide free cups of coffee to drivers between 2pm and 8pm on Friday 28 October and Monday 31 October at participating service stations. Simply say ‘RSA’ or ‘Driver Reviver’ to the till operator to avail of a free coffee. A list of participating stations is available at www.applegreenstores.com/ie/locations

To date this year, 159 people have been killed on Irish roads, an increase of 32 when compared to the same period last year.

For more information on the correct use of lights, visit: http://bit.ly/2dkeTwJ To order high visibility materials, visit www.rsa.ie

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
RSA Communications Office: 096 25008
RSA Communications Manager: 086 388 1009
Garda Press Office: 01 6662071

Press Release: Minister Ross hails landmark environment agreement at Aviation Summit in Montreal

Minister Ross hails landmark environment agreement at Aviation Summit in Montreal

| Friday 07 October 2016 |

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The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, T.D., today (7 October 2016) welcomed the landmark agreement reached between almost 200 countries at a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal. The agreement seeks to curb CO2 emissions from international aviation and has been strongly supported by the aviation industry and by international representatives of airlines and airports.

GMBM (Global Market Based Measure) Scheme to combat CO2 emissions

The agreement, described as a Global Market Based Measure, is to start in 2021 and aims to move quickly towards a carbon-neutral growth situation in international aviation from then onwards. The scheme involves the offsetting of CO2 emissions from international aviation through the use of offsetting credits generated from environmentally beneficial projects. It is to be phased in over a six-year period from 2021. Ireland, along with 43 other European countries, has decided to participate from the start of the scheme.

This agreement, Minister Ross said, “is a truly historic event because it is a global agreement where countries from every part of the world have signed up to do their bit to combat climate change. Although aviation activity currently accounts for less than 5% of total CO2 emissions, every sector has to play its part, and this is especially true for the aviation sector where the level of activity is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead as aviation traffic increases in line with world economic growth”. World leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference – COP 21 – in Paris made very clear commitments to global action to combat climate change, in particular to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C, whilst pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to. 1.5°C. That meeting entrusted to ICAO the task of delivering an approach to tackling carbon emissions in aviation. ICAO has now responded to that challenge. As a result the aviation sector will be the first to adopt binding global carbon reduction targets.

Minister Ross added “This agreement is a key element of the response of the aviation community to the Paris Agreement. I am delighted to indicate that Ireland has taken a strong leadership role in this area. The agreement, which has been supported by all European Union States marks the culmination of years of work. A total of 65 countries, including Ireland, have committed to participation in the scheme from the initial voluntary phase commencing in 2021. It is not realistic to expect that every country can participate in the scheme from the start because of various developmental and technological reasons but Ireland and Europe are in that position and it is right that we back that up with a firm and decisive commitment to action to address the legitimate and vital objectives set out in the Paris Agreement last December.”

Ireland wins election to Council of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)

Minister Ross also welcomed Ireland’s successful election to the ICAO Council, the 36-member governing body of ICAO. “This is a very important and influential body in the field of international aviation and it has a pivotal role in developing worldwide aviation policies and practises. It will in particular have a key role to play in the coming years in overseeing the detailed implementation and mechanics of the new CO2 scheme. Ireland greatly appreciates the honour of being elected to ICAO’s governing body and is determined to make its voice heard in a telling and constructive way.”

ENDS

Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport 01 604 1093 / 01 604 1090
www.dttas.ie | (Enable Javascript to see the email address)

Initial Publication Date: 07/10/2016