Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has published his priorities for 2014 with a number of marine targets on his list. Varadkar wants to transfer of some ports to local authority control, and in changes to the Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Bill, there are proposals to introduce a level of boat registration for leisure craft.
After a busy year for the Coasty guard in 2013, the Minister has also said he wants to develop and implement a 'Safety at Sea' strategy to reduce the number of marine fatalities and casualties.
"This year my focus is on developing new projects across all three areas of Transport, Tourism & Sport, while consolidating progress already made. Priorities include starting work on the Gort-Tuam motorway, targets to increase the use of public transport, reducing road fatalities, and moving Luas Cross City in Dublin to full construction stage.
"In tourism, we will build on The Gathering and focus on increasing visitor numbers to Ireland by 4%, and tourism revenue by 8%. There will be a strong focus on sports tourism and outdoor tourism with the Giro d'Italia, Croke Park Classic and the Wild Atlantic Way. I will also publish new tourism and aviation policies.
"The foundations will be laid for our bid for the Rugby World Cup. Work will start on the National Indoor Arena at the National Sports Campus in Dublin, and we will publish a new Masterplan for Sport. Other key projects include finalising the merger of Shannon Airport with Shannon Development, and the NRA with the RPA. Most importantly, there will be a renewed focus on road safety, and we will also start testing new roadside drug testing equipment."
Priorities for 2014
Contribute fully to the Government's efforts to reduce the deficit, generate economic growth and increase employment;
Publish new Tourism and Aviation policies and begin work on a Masterplan for Sport;
Publish/Enact the following legislation:
Vehicle Immobilisation (Clamping) Bill,
State Airports (Shannon) Bill,
Roads Bill (NRA/RPA merger),
Sport Ireland Bill,
Harbours Amendment Bill (transfer of ports to local authority control),
Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Bill.
Lay the foundations for a bid for the Rugby World Cup;
Develop and implement a 'Safety at Sea' strategy to reduce the number of marine fatalities and casualties;
Renew focus on Road Safety to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries in 2014 including the enactment of the Road Traffic Bill and the introduction of equipment to enable roadside testing for drivers under the influence of drugs;
Increase the number of overseas visits to Ireland by 4% and revenue by 8%;
Commence works on the Luas Cross City Project and ensure that disruption in the City is well handled and minimised in so far as possible;
Construction to begin on Gort-Tuam Motorway and progress the next bundle of PPPs to tender (Wexford);
Work with NTA, CIE, Luas and other transport operators to increase the number of people using public transport by 2% ie 5 million passenger journeys;
Provide support for a number of flagship Greenways;
Review the National Cycle Policy Framework;
Develop and promote the Wild Atlantic Way at home and abroad;
Make new allocations for facilities and equipment under the Sports Capital Programme;
Develop facilities at the National Sports Campus including the commencement of work on the National Indoor Arena;
Finalise the implementation of the new Rural Transport Programme with the establishment of 18 Transport Coordination Units co-located with local authorities;
Commence the Taxi Regulation Act in conjunction with adoption of implementing regulations by NTA;
Implement the recommendations of the Speed Limits Review;
Launch an online facility for Road Haulage Operator Licence applications;
Develop a road charging scheme for HGVs;
Publish a Roadmap for the transition of transport to a low-carbon future and a Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport ensuring that priorities for future capital investment are evidence-based;
Provide City Bikes in Cork, Limerick and Galway;
Extend the LEAP card to Cork and Galway;
Map the future development of Rosslare Port.