Dáil Éireann - Volume 610 - 15 November, 2005

Written Answers. - North-South Co-operation.

  406. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the work of the North-South unit in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34214/05]

  Mr. Cullen: My Department continues to work through the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement, in consultation with officials from the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs, to improve the connectivity and safety of the transport system on the island of Ireland and to identify opportunities to improve the overall network.

The Government recently launched a ten-year capital investment framework, Transport 21. The framework will significantly enhance the transport infrastructure on the island and will improve connectivity with Northern Ireland by road and by rail, through substantial upgrading of all rail and road connections to the Border.

There is a considerable level of ongoing co-operation at official level in the planning and procurement of cross-Border road infrastructure. Much of this co-operation is co-ordinated through a cross-Border steering group. The Newry-Dundalk road project, for example, is being procured on a joint cross-jurisdictional basis. Substantial progress has been made on the motorway from Dublin to Belfast, with the completion of the M1 to Dundalk. Significant improvements in the strategic road links with the north west of the island are also proposed under Transport 21.

My Department is proceeding with the implementation of the Government decision, in prin[321] ciple, in relation to co-funding for City of Derry Airport in collaboration with Northern Ireland authorities. Air access to the north west is also being subsidised by my Department through the PSO air service programme, and earlier this year I announced the extension of the PSO contracts for the Derry-Dublin and Donegal-Dublin air routes for a further three years. With regard to rail safety, officials from my Department are taking forward co-operation with the Northern Ireland authorities on rail safety, to include technical convergence and interoperability, in each jurisdiction and the implementation of the EU rail packages.

A programme for enhancing North-South co-operation on road safety was approved by the North-South Ministerial Council in December 2000. The programme includes a continuation of the joint road safety campaigns between the National Safety Council, NSC, and the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland, DOENI, an examination of the possibility of joint promotion of road safety educational initiatives and an exchange of information between authorities in the North and South on road safety programmes, targets and priorities, and the review of these.

Since 2000, four joint advertising campaigns have been developed by the NSC and DOENI. These campaigns have targeted speeding, seat-belt wearing, drink-driving and vulnerable road users and they continue to be used to ensure changes in road user attitudes and behaviour. The NSC and DOENI are currently developing a further joint campaign targeting drink driving, which I am scheduled to launch on behalf of the NSC later this month in time for the annual Christmas drink driving campaign.

Question No. 407 answered with Question No. 395.