04 Feb 2020

Three Rock Panorama – November 2019

Luas

Last month I welcomed into service the first of the newly-extended trams to operate on the green line. The trams that run on the Green Line are being extended by 11 metres and this additional space will provide room for 30% more passengers. For example if that tram is filling to 85% at the moment in the morning peak, once it’s extended the same amount of people will use 66% of the space on the extended tram. This will create space for more customers on the trams and provide a more comfortable trip for customers. The full rollout of the extended 26 trams on the Green Line will be completed by the end of 2020. The extended trams will increase passenger capacity from 319 to 408.

Last year LUAS carried 42 million passengers, compared with 22 million in the first full year of operations in 2005.

Inheritance Tax

One of the issues facing many people in the locality is the high taxes on children’s inheritance. In the run up to the Budget and in discussions I had with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, I stressed the need to increase the amount of money parents in particular can give to their children.

As a result of my discussions I am pleased to see that changes have been put in place concerning Capital Acquisitions Tax impact on the inheritance of the family home.

The changes to the tax-free threshold broadly applies to transfers between parents and their children and is increased by €15,000. This means that such transfers now stands at €335,000, up from 320,000.

Greyhounds

We were all left horrified by the findings of the RTE Prime Time programme on the greyhound industry and the alleged practices by some of those working in the sector, where up to 6,000 animals were being culled annually because they were too slow. No Government can approve of subsidised cruelty.

I have raised my deep concerns at Government and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has agreed to a thorough investigation and have promised it will take necessary enforcement actions to deal with such offences. The new Greyhound Racing Act 2019 gives Bord na gCon enhanced powers to make regulations for the traceability of greyhounds.

But I believe we also needed to do more so I am pleased that both Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland have ceased promoting greyhound racing both domestically and internationally as a visitor attraction after I raised the issue with them. Against the backdrop of the report into greyhound abuses, we would only have suffered further reputational damage as a country by continuing to promote greyhound racing as a visitor attraction.

Cycling

Cycling benefited significantly from the Budget. A  total of €114 million has been allocated, including €9m ringfenced from the carbon tax measures. The increased allocations is being made available under both the greenways and the two urban cycling funding programmes.

This significant increase will support the development of safe and segregated infrastructure for those who enjoy cycling and walking as a leisure activity and those who use either as part of their daily commute.

Public Transport

For the first time Budget 2020 provided in excess of €1 billion for public transport. This funding will support a wide range of transport projects, including progressing major infrastructure investments as part of BusConnects and Metrolink, continuing to improve our rail services nationwide, and supporting the phased transition of our transport fleet to more environmentally friendly fuel types. It will fund the delivery of around 236 buses, featuring low emission buses for the urban fleet.

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Three Rock Panorama October edition
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