Shane Ross

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    Irish Squad Announced for #WRWC2017

    Ireland Squad Announced for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, UCD, Dublin 24/7/2017
    Ireland Head Coach Tom Tierney, Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Niamh Briggs
    Credit INPHO/Dan Sheridan

     

     

     

     

    ‘It’s an insult to my little boy’: Families who lost loved ones to drunk-drivers slam politicians opposing new law

    17/07/2017 | TheJournal.ie | Following a meeting with the RSA and road traffic victim support groups today, Shane Ross published his new drink-driving bill.

    Following a meeting with the RSA and road traffic victim support groups today, Shane Ross published his new drink-driving bill.

    “It’s an insult to my little boy.”

    THE MOTHER of a four-year-old boy killed by a drunk driver in Co Laois has said opposition by some politicians to the new drink-driving Bill is “an insult” to her son.
    Gillian and Ronan Treacy’s son, Ciarán, was killed by drunk-driver Finbarr O’Rourke on the afternoon of Thursday, 17 April 2014. O’Rourke had consumed up to 10 pints of cider. The Treacys were the faces of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) Christmas campaign last year, which urged people not to drink and drive.

    Following a meeting with the Road Safety Authority and road traffic accident victim support groups today, Transport Minister Shane Ross published the Road Traffic Amendment Bill.
    It will see an automatic three-month suspension handed down to those caught with 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Currently those caught within that limit are given penalty points.

    A rural versus urban divide has emerged between some TDs and senators over the proposed new law, with some TDs saying it is unfair to those living in rural Ireland. Some critics have called the RSA figures into question, while others have said the focus needs to be on Garda enforcement, rather than a crackdown on drivers.

    Insulting

    “We opened our lives, our private lives 100% to the public, to just try and get the message across about the devastation that drink-driving can cause. It has been very effective, but it has also been a huge insult the last couple of weeks, to see the opposition to the Bill… it is an insult to my little boy, losing him, and my injuries, and all the other people who have lost people to drink-driving,” said Gillian.

    One of the Bill’s most vocal critics has been Kerry TD Danny Healy Rae. In May, the Independent TD said that eating a big meal can be as dangerous as drink driving.

    Last week he argued passionately that a driver who has consumed “two or three glasses” of beer represents no danger to the public, which resulted in clashing words between Healy Rae and families of those that had lost loved ones to road accidents.

    Ann Fogarty from PARC Road Safety Group, who lost her husband, Edmund, in a road accident, finds Healy Rae’s words extremely offensive.

    Anger at today’s meeting

    She said families who attended today’s meeting were very angry at the narrative that some politicians are pushing. “People were very angry in there today, because we feel that we are not being listened to and the lives of our relatives are not being valued,” said Fogarty.
    “Our lives out there and all of your lives out there are not being valued by those TDs who want to vote against this bill.”
    “I will not in anyway engage with Danny Healy Rae,” she said, adding that some TDs are afraid to debate the issue.

    ‘Get off the pitch’

    Publishing the bill this morning, the minister hit out against the vintner groups and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

    The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has accused the minister of trying to mislead the public – insisting that only 1.3% of road deaths involve people at the lower limit.

    Speaking about those opposing his Bill, Ross said:

    “I would call on the vintners who are opposing this Bill to get off the pitch.”

    “I call on Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil to support the Bill. I know his heart is in the right place on issues of this sort and I can’t understand why Micheál Martin, [Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson] Robert Troy and others are opposing the measure, which will undoubtedly save lives.”
    “So we are looking for their support and we will be campaigning for the support of many more.”

    Tax breaks for publicans

    In a bid to get ensure the new law proceeds through the Dáil, the minister said considerations are being given to the introduction of a tax break for publicans who agree to drive their customers home after a night out.
    This idea was first put forward by Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy during a committee debate on the issue at the beginning of the year.
    In an interview with TheJournal.ie, Ross said the government may look at giving supports to publicans to help get their customers home.
    He said all suggestions would be looked at, “but not if it is going to be very expensive”. Speaking on the matter today, Ross said all suggestions that could make it easier for people to get home at night would be considered.
    The minister said he has asked for a meeting to be set up between the Insurance Federation and the VFI to establish if such measures can be facilitated in some way. “If this eases the process of the Bill, which means lives are saved, fair enough, we will look at it. We are very happy to look at any constructive suggestions along those lines,” he added.
    Ross is pushing for a free vote on the Bill, but it is understood Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has demanded that ministers, junior ministers and super junior ministers support the Bill.

    A decision on whether Varadkar will impose the whip for other Fine Gael TDs will be decided at a parliamentary meeting in the autumn.

    by Christina Finn | TheJournal.ie |

    http://www.thejournal.ie/drink-driving-bill-3500492-Jul2017/

     

    Drink Driving – The Facts

    Shane Ross, T.D. | 05/04/2017 | The Irish Daily Mail |

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. It’s a basic maxim which used to be self-evident but increasingly is challenged by those who are taking free speech to ludicrous levels. Increasingly, there are people who believe that if they want something to be true – regardless of the facts –all they have to do is repeat it endlessly, to anyone and everyone who will listen. The untruth then gathers legs, through social media and then mainstream reputable until voila!

    The lie becomes an established fact.

    Which is why today, when I appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Transport, Tourism and Sport (for pre-legislative scrutiny of the Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty – Drink Driving) Bill 2017) there are many who insist that this measure will bring our current drink driving limits down to practically zero; that the odd glass of wine with lunch will now be outlawed and anyone taking cough medicine before getting into their car will be in danger of losing their driving licence.

    Rubbish.

    I’m blue in the face repeating myself here – but let me say once more for the hard of hearing that the new legislation will NOT change the current drink-driving blood-alcohol limit. Do I need to say that again? I think I do. There is NO CHANGE to current alcohol limits. Priests can still say Mass and use wine for the consecration, barmen can burp, Danny Healy-Rae can take his cough medicine and all of us can indulge in sherry trifle before getting behind the wheel of a car.

    What IS being changed is the PENALTY for drivers detected drink driving with blood/alcohol concentration (BAC) of 51mg to 80mg. Back in the day when the BAC limit was reduced to 50mg the same people who are screaming that my new Bill will shut down rural Ireland, successfully lobbied the then government to exclude first time drink-driving offenders from receiving an automatic disqualification. Currently they can just pay a fine,  cop three penalty points and get back into their cars. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order, a signal that we’re not really that serious about drink driving. This Bill will ensure that all those detected driving over the legal limit will receive a mandatory disqualification from driving.

    Changing this anomaly won’t, of course, end the horrific increase in road traffic fatalities we’ve witnessed over the past year. It’s not a magic wand. Drink driving is not the only problem in road safety.  There’s also speed, use of mobile phones, the reluctance to wear seat belts and, increasingly, driving under the influence of drugs. But alcohol is a factor in 38% of fatal crashes. For those who say these fatalities only occur when a skin-full of pints has been taken let me tell them what the facts say:

    Between 2008 and 2012, 35 people were killed in crashes where drivers/motorcyclists had a recorded BAC level of between 21 and 80mg (and were deemed culpable due to alcohol being a contributory factor). This means that 7-8 people, on average, were killed per year over this period at lower alcohol levels. The culpable party was not a pedestrian or the passenger – as has been suggested by vested interest groups’ intent on muddying the statistics – but a driver with a BAC at the lower alcohol levels. There have been attempts to rubbish these statistics. So much so that the Road Safety Authority wrote to every public representative last week to put them straight.

    Then one politician tried to create a link between the research behind my new Bill and the recent Garda breath-testing debacle. There is no connection between the data and research supporting this Bill and the current travails of the Gardai. This bill is not about the number of tests carried out, it’s about a change to the penalty and anyone trying to tell you any different is either too lazy to get their facts right – or have a vested interest in seeing people who drink and drive remain on the road.

    I’ve been accused of damaging the social fabric of rural Ireland by insisting that this Bill will save lives. Yet eight out of ten alcohol related collisions occur in rural areas. For those who say this Bill is not needed, and that I have ‘no real grasp of the complexities of drink-driving’ I ask you?  Are you sincerely saying that the 7-8 people killed annually at the lower alcohol levels are collateral damage? Are their lives worth you having that extra pint and getting away with it? I dare you to say that to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives because of drink drivers who should have been off the road.

    We need to seriously change our attitude to drink driving in this country. This Bill is a necessary step in doing that and I make no apologies for it.

    Shane Ross T.D. 

     

    Irish Daily Mail – Editorial 05/04/2017:
    Ross is on the right road - Irish Daily Mail 05:04:17

    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.

    donnacha-ryan-celebrates-in-chicago

    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.

    robbie-brady-had-us-jumping-for-joy-at-the-euros

    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.

    the-odonovan-brothers-had-success-and-plenty-of-quotes

    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.

    minister-shane-ross

    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.

    shane-ross-enda-kenny-john-delaney

    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/

     

    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

     

     

    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.

     

    ireland2023

    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.

    govt-spring-ireland2023

     

    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

     

    Prize was there on a plate but Martin has lost his appetite

    It was Fianna Fail’s turn to host lunch for the Independent Alliance.

    Beating a path to (and from) the doorsteps

    The location for my first canvass of this election was hand- picked. Advised by an old hand with local knowledge a few weeks ago, I headed for a specially selected comfort zone.

    It’s JAABs for the boys – canvassing is ‘mandatory’

    Imagine you are a tired solicitor. You are struggling in a rural practice, barely making ends meet. You are facing the prospect of closure as your local town sinks into decline. Your future is bleak.