Dáil debates

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021: Report and Final Stages

 

5:37 pm

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 52, line 11, after “fixed” to insert “and mobile”.

This is a straightforward amendment to make this part of the legislation less prescriptive. My suggestion is to include the words "and mobile" after "fixed", so that it captures the possibility that cameras and closed-circuit television, CCTV, can be mounted on buses, etc. This is the intent behind this proposed amendment. Another solution would be to remove the word "fixed" to make this provision less prescriptive.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I intend to accept this amendment. We introduced the provisions in the Bill relating to CCTV as amendments on Committee Stage. As I explained then, the reason we needed to address this issue was that it had come to our attention that the systems of cameras used by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, and local authorities to monitor traffic and assist with traffic management, as well as with enforcement, did not have a proper underpinning in law. The CCTV provisions we have inserted are designed to capture what TII and local authorities do and the infrastructure they currently have.

The issue of using cameras on buses is one which is also now being explored. It is part of our road safety strategy action 122, which states we will: "Examine the feasibility of utilising bus mounted cameras to detect and enforce illegal parking in bus lanes and if appropriate make recommendations for implementation". This action, which is being led by the National Transport Authority, NTA, is due for completion by the end of the year.

Other legislative provisions may be more appropriate, rather than this legislation, which might form the legal authority for such bus-mounted cameras. I believe, however, that the restriction of the definition such that it only applies to "fixed" cameras is not necessary, and therefore, as I said, I am happy to agree to the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Amendments Nos. 2 and 10 to 16, inclusive, are related and may be taken together.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 53, line 37, to delete “and refuelling infrastructure”.

I will take all these together. Amendments Nos. 2 and 10 to 16, inclusive, are about clarifying the legislation around zero-emission vehicles. The existing draft goes some way to explaining what a zero-emission vehicle is, but it does not go far enough. The Minister is on the record as saying a zero-emission vehicle goes beyond electric vehicles and includes electric bikes, cargo bikes, etc. It is important that we get the legislation right to ensure that the zero emission vehicles Ireland, ZEVI, office is set up correctly and has a sound legislative underpinning to ensure it does not just look at electric vehicles, but has a broader remit. This will be critically important when the office is transferred over to TII, as I understand is the intention.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Has Deputy Leddin covered all the amendments in the group?

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Yes. My contribution captured all of them.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for raising important issues. Turning specifically to amendment No. 16 in this grouping, I introduced provisions into the Bill on Committee Stage to underpin the creation of an office to be called zero emission vehicles Ireland. It is intended that this office will play an important role in advancing us towards our target of having 1 million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030. In establishing ZEVI and developing electric vehicle policy, the intention has always been that the concept of electric vehicle includes a wide range of electric and electric-assisted vehicles, including bicycles, tricycles, cargo bikes, mopeds, motorbikes, microcars, velomobiles, cars, buses, vans and a full range of goods vehicles.

As I explained on Committee Stage, ZEVI will take on functions currently spread across my Department, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, the NTA and TII. It will provide drive and focus for our efforts to promote electric vehicles in particular. The intention was to establish this office, in the first instance, within my Department on an administrative basis, pending the passing of the legislation. This has now been done. The passage of the legislation will provide the basis for ZEVI's functions and I intend to transfer it over to the TII later.

Deputy Leddin is proposing to insert a definition of "Zero to low emission vehicles". This would bring a level of clarity in this regard, and I shall discuss this with the Attorney General with a view to tabling a similar amendment in the Seanad. Deputy Leddin is also proposing a wide suite of specific research and reporting activities for ZEVI. The principles behind this are already provided for in section 56(3) in Part 15. This section refers to the Minister and the ZEVI office being initially, as I shall say, in my Department. We plan later to transfer this office to TII and for it to "carry out, arrange to have carried out or assist the carrying out of training and research activities in relation to zero to low emission vehicles and recharging infrastructure and refuelling infrastructure for zero to low emission vehicles".

We also wish to "promote and assist research, development and demonstration of technologies connected with zero to low emission vehicles and recharging infrastructure and refuelling infrastructure for zero to low emission vehicles". We also wish the office to "provide advice, information and guidance in relation to design, standards, accessibility, operation and consumer use of zero to low emission vehicles and recharging infrastructure and refuelling infrastructure for zero to low emission vehicles provide information". Finally, we expect ZEVI to "engage with stakeholders and prepare reports in relation to the development of the electricity network to meet requirements for charging infrastructure for zero to low emission vehicles".

The additional points proposed by Deputy Leddin may help to round out these functions. Therefore, as I said, I will also discuss these with the Attorney General with a view to proposing a similar amendment in the Seanad, with legislation subsequently returning to the Dáil.

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Having listened to this debate, do I understand correctly that an office is being set up that will be tasked with getting 1 million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030?

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The ZEVI office has already been established on an administrative basis, pending the passing of this legislation.

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It simply beggars belief. I am sorry. I am again going to say that I admire the Minister's hopes and ambitions, but at some point policy will have to be grounded in the reality of where we are. I do not have a problem with electric vehicles, but I do have a problem with forcing cars off the road. There are very few charging points in rural Ireland even now. A bigger problem, however, is that most people in this House, for example, would drive perhaps 50,000 km annually. I see Deputy Michael Healy-Rae here and perhaps he, or Deputies Daly or O'Rourke, might concur with me. Many people would drive that distance. Most electric vehicles now have a lifespan of a maximum, I would have thought, of 250,000 km, or at least that is what I was told at the briefing by representatives of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, SIMI.

Therefore, we have electric vehicles with a lifespan of five years, at which point they must be replaced. They will be recycled, but a great deal of energy is involved in recycling vehicles. Electric vehicles are fine for a certain cohort of the population. If we are to have 1 million electric vehicles operating by 2030, however, has anyone thought of where the required energy is going to come from? We are eight years away from 2030. Do we have a plan? We are struggling to fuel the State this winter, while we are intending to have 1 million electric vehicles by 2030. Where is the required electricity going to come from? I am serious about this point.

I am not deriding the idea, the hope and the ambition in this regard. Only last year, Equinor pulled out of the Irish wind energy market because, apparently, there was a complete lack of ambition to bring in the regulatory and planning reforms required. Today, representatives of the wind energy sector told us no ports in the Republic of Ireland have the necessary capacity to facilitate the development of the mammoth offshore developments that will be needed if we are going to harness wind energy on the scale required to provide all this electricity.

We have no ports, no regulatory structures, no planning structures and an office tasked with getting 1 million electric vehicles by 2030. Is there to be an office tasked with training pigs to fly by 2030? I am genuinely baffled by the disconnect between where we are at and where we hope to get. It seems the Government is continuing on blithely unaware of that. Unfortunately, I do not see the plans to tackle that.

I accept it might be possible. I accept that Ardnacrusha went from conception to being commissioned and fuelling the energy needs of the State in the time period the Minister is talking about, which is eight years, but I simply do not see any sign of anything like that happening today. On that basis, this amendment is as useful as an amendment providing for pigs driving cars or pigs flying and the absolute necessity to regulate that. On that basis, I must oppose the amendment.

5:47 pm

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I reiterate what I have said previously about electric cars. I have nothing against electric cars but it is a fact people will buy electric cars when they are reliable and when they are a real alternative to what we have at present. People cannot be forced out of good diesel cars that can travel the distance, let us say from Kerry to Dublin, without having to refuel. I can actually go back home again, just about, without refuelling, but if that was an electric car, there is no way in the world that I would make it up here in one day, given the length of time it takes to charge cars the distance they would go.

I will say for the benefit of whoever is listening that one of my cars has 750,000 km done. It is a diesel car and it is going perfectly. It is 16 years old. Will the Minister tell me what electric car will travel that distance? What account of the electric car will there be after two or three years? What will it be worth and where will you go with it because you cannot dispose of the battery without paying an enormous sum for it? No scrap dealer will take an electric car for scrap because he or she must pay too much to dispose of the battery.

To get back to the crunch of the issue, if we added all these electric cars now coming up to Christmas and the worry that we have with providing electricity for the utilities it is needed for at present, where would they be? Would they be all parked along the M50, N7 or whatever it is, having given up because there would be no electricity to keep them going? We must be realistic.

As for forcing people, the Minister has this idea, and his party and the people who support him are saying, that people should not be allowed to buy diesel and petrol cars. That is democratically wrong. Let people make up their mind, and when the electric car is a reliable and useful option, they will buy them without being forced to buy them. They should not be forced to do that.

The Minister seems to be electric mad and for nothing else, but there are other options out there. There are biofuel options. I have been told - my group met with these biofuel groups - that the Government would not listen to them. If that biofuel was added to the diesel, there would be no emissions. The Government does not want to listen to that.

People are stressed and they cannot buy new cars. The Minister told them to buy diesel cars in 2007 and now he is telling them they must get rid of them and buy electric cars. What will the Minister think of in a couple of years' time? That is the worry.

There are options. Take the petrol car, for example. In 1975, my father had a petrol car. Its registration number was 236 PRI. It was converted to gas. The same crowd, the liquid petroleum gas, LPG, crowd, came into us. They say that if that type of gas was used in the petrol cars again, it would reduce the emissions to practically nil. They also told us the Government would not meet with them, the same as the biofuel people. What connection has the Government that it does not want to listen to any other option?

There is no harm in getting down emissions, and I have nothing against electric cars, but they are not a viable, realistic or affordable option right now. Everyone here knows how much people are caught up short of money for everything with the cost of everything gone up. Do we want to exacerbate the problem by telling them it is a matter of keeping what they have for the foreseeable future? Maybe the Government wants them to get out and walk. The Minister suggested that one car would do 30 people in a village. I can assure him that three people in Kilgarvan village would not manage with one car. Everyone needs the car they have and they will not give it to anyone else because they need it. You cannot go anywhere in rural Ireland without a car. It is fine here, as there are brand new shiny buses the Government is putting the carbon tax it collects into and which the people in rural Ireland are paying for, but the Minister has to be realistic. The electric car will be bought when it is a reliable, affordable and realistic option. Right now, it is not and forcing people to do just that is wrong.

To top it all, the Government does not have the infrastructure. I did not hear of any extra charging points being placed along filling stations or anywhere. In Kerry, they cannot afford to do it and they are getting no help from the Government. The Government will have to wake up. The Minister will have to be real. People have to get up in the morning and they must have something reliable to take them to work. If they are travelling long distances, an electric car will not do that. It will suit some housewives and people doing short runs but at present the design is not good enough to take them on long journeys. Until that happens, the Minister is wasting his time, and everyone else's time as well, and he is hurting and making more angry the people in rural Ireland.

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I would like to speak to this amendment. Of course, the discussion is mainly built around electric cars. We have 50,000 electric cars in 2022 and the target, to the best of knowledge, is 850,000 by 2030. Everybody else in the world knows that is not achievable. Most likely, by 2030 anyway, they will be in the dump heap and most people will be told to go back to some other forms of transport.

On a private note, and I very rarely use private conversations I had with the Minister, on one occasion the Minister asked me what was wrong with a car and a plug-in unit for an electric car out in Goleen where I come from and the lovely pubs that are out there, mentioning there is O'Meara's, the Lobster Pot and the Fastnet Bar. The Minister probably knows well. In fairness, he has been cycling - not maybe drinking in the pubs but cycling - around that side of the country. The problem is we do not have any plug-in chargers. That is a major issue in rural Ireland. For instance, I had to leave there yesterday at 4 a.m. How far would it have got me if I had a plug-in unit in the local plug-in station, wherever it would be - probably closer to the Cork side? There are probably a few in west Cork, but not many.

It is a shame that we are talking about electric cars, which are meant to be the future, but that they have not delivered and the Government has not delivered the proper resources for people to have or to purchase electric cars.

I got an email recently from a taxi operator who bought a second-hand electric car and it basically went wallop. I stand to be slightly corrected on this but I think the cost involved was €14,000. He said buying an electric vehicle was the biggest mistake of his life. That person is in a city, where he could have had plenty of opportunities to plug in, but the battery or the unit gave him trouble and there was no warranty. It is like a pig in a poke.

We have also the issue of potentially having no electricity. There is a great danger that the power in this country will blow out some night. I have said to the Minister in the Dáil that if that happens, the Government will be run out of this country and run out of this Dáil because the people will run it out.

5:57 pm

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I do not like to interrupt any member, but on Report Stage we are supposed to focus on the subject matter of the amendments. This group of amendments is about CCTV, not electric points or any of the other stuff you are talking about, Deputy. If you are to make relevant contributions, together with any of your colleagues, they need to be about Deputy Leddin's proposals relating to CCTV, pedal cycles and other matters. The amendments relate to fuelling systems, as well as CCTV, however, so I suppose it is legitimate to talk about electric charging points.

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Yes, because it is said that that is the way forward. Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle, for your clarity on the matter. The fuelling turns out to be electricity, if the Government has its way, and the points for plugging in the vehicles are not in rural communities. I live on Mizen Head and I know how long it takes to travel to the Dáil daily, or maybe once or twice a week sometimes, and I know for a fact that if I were to depend on an electric vehicle, I would not be here serving the people. The fuelling of vehicles, whether a lorry, a tractor or even a basic lawn-mower, will not be worked by battery or by air. It will have to be worked by fuel, no matter how long or short the journey and no matter how much we talk about it.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said earlier that the Government will not meet to discuss the alternatives, and there are alternatives. There is a gap to be bridged there. The Government is afraid to do that. For some reason it is determined to put fuel out of the price reach of people trying to make a day-to-day living. The Government is quite happy with fuel prices going out of control and with a hefty tax take out of that going into the Government coffers, leaving people severely out of pocket. The Government can boast that it has a massive surplus to give out in the budget. I certainly hope it will give it out properly. If it does not, I hate to think of the anger that will be put onto the anger out there already. Fuelling vehicles is such an important thing, and the price of it is hurting people very badly in the pocket. We do not have the confidence, and I do not think this country has the confidence, in purchasing electric vehicles and getting delivery from them. People have been priced out of fuel, with the carbon tax added to it.

We do not have Connecting Ireland in our rural communities, and that is forcing people to use the fuels that are there at present. We do not have a proper bus service. I will be talking to the Minister or maybe some other Minister tomorrow morning about that. Connecting Ireland was meant to deliver. It has failed miserably to deliver in my community, so people are forced into purchasing the vehicles and the fuel that are there at the moment. I ask the Minister to meet to spend some time discussing the alternatives and the options out there. His ideas might be good in 15 or 20 years' time, but for now they are not good for the people of rural Ireland, they are not viable and they are not there. The Minister has to understand that we have to live the same as everybody else. If I am talking about a man leaving from Mizen Head and travelling a journey I have to travel regularly, many more besides me have to travel to the cities and to Cork city daily, and they tell me the same thing. Many of them are afraid to buy electric vehicles. They feel that it will lead them into a massive loss, and many of them cannot afford to lose any more than what they are losing already. When we have Connecting Ireland and proper public transport for people in rural Ireland, maybe we can look at the Minister's dreams to have 850,000 electric cars by 2030, but at this stage I do not think that will be achievable. The Government has a long road to go, and we certainly will be keeping a very close eye on how all these targets will be delivered because this will not happen.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Amendments Nos. 10 to 16, inclusive, relate to pedal bicycles and pedal tricycles. I believe that those are the amendments we are on, along with amendment No. 2. Is that right?

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Again, to be clear, Deputy Leddin has moved amendment No. 2, which, together with amendments Nos. 10 to 16, inclusive, are related and are being taken together.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

That includes electric vehicles. I have nothing at all against electric vehicles if they are to be used by people in areas where they can actually use them, but I look around this country and see the age of the vehicles and the age groups of people who have cars. I am a father of four. There are nine people in my house but seven cars. They all go in different directions and do different things. I recently upgraded my car after I overturned my previous one in February. An electric vehicle would not do me because I tow. I went and talked to the electric vehicle companies and asked them what the tow capacity of various cars would be and asked them about the mileage of the car if I was towing. They said, "Richard, this is not suitable for you in the position you are in." There are many other people in this Dáil for whom such cars would not be suitable either. I average somewhere between 40,000 km and 50,000 km a year. The companies also told me that it would not be viable for me to keep the car after X number of years. Everyone knows that cars in this country are at an absolutely astronomical price at the moment, so to go from a petrol vehicle or a diesel vehicle even to another petrol or diesel vehicle is a big cost, not to mind going to an electric vehicle.

Recently, a car dealership in Limerick did an open day for its new range of electric vehicles. I will not mention the garage. On its opening day it sold 12 electric vehicles ranging in price from €120,000 to €80,000 to €60,000, only to be told by the manufacturer when the dealership went back to it the following day that it could supply only four of the 12 vehicles this year. This is a mainstream dealer doing what the Government wants it to do and providing electric vehicles. It can provide only four of those electric vehicles.

I then talked to people in the local authority who had one electric vehicle in their family. It would be a good idea if people who cannot afford to change cars were incentivised to change one vehicle in the house, but the Government has not come with such an incentive yet, and it should do. There are people in this city who might do only 10,000 km in one year. An electric vehicle should be ideal for them. I left at 7.30 a.m. to come in here this morning from the Bray-Wicklow side. I spent an hour and 20 minutes in traffic, lanes in and lanes out. I tried to count how many electric vehicles I was passing. I passed only seven in that hour and 20 minutes, in a city where there is public transport, including Luas, buses - you name it. Then again, all the buses that were passing were on diesel fuel. How do we incentivise people to buy electric cars or even hybrids? The issue is the cost. At the moment people are dealing with the cost of trying to keep the lights on.

The Government is trying to put electric vehicles onto that grid and the power is not there, at a cost.

Everyone I have been talking to about the charging points has told me they are going to increase the cost on the charging points because of what it costs them. I was on the radio in Limerick last week. The programme looked to see how many charging points were in Limerick city and then they looked at how many were working. Only two were working within the city of Limerick. Then going out to the hotels. They had actually put in four and five points because they knew the tourist’s point of view. Therefore, the infrastructure in this country is being put in by businesses, not by Government. Coming along the motorway to Dublin, some filling stations also have put in electric charging points. It is businesses not Government. The Government is going back to businesses all the time to try to put in infrastructure.

I see where the Minister’s vision is going and I agree with some of it. We all want to bring down emissions. However, when talking about electric vehicles, how much will they cost? We have 2.2 million vehicles in this country. Some people look at these vehicles in the context of a ten-year cycle in order to be able to afford them. In most lease agreements that people get to upgrade their cars, they are looking for between five and seven years - it depends on the vehicle. Many of the Jeeps that farmers have are 2006 and 2007 vehicles because that is all they can afford to make sure they can get to the market with cattle and get fodder for cattle. That is all they can afford. The Government wants them to upgrade to electric vehicles. Inflation has gone through the roof which means car prices have gone through the roof. There is also the issue of the recycling of these vehicles. It does not make sense.

Deputy Michael Collins recently referred to a person who bought a second-hand 2018 electric vehicle with 122,000 km on the clock. At 130,000 km a fault arose with the car and the person was told, “Sorry, the warranty only covers you to five years or 100,000 km”. He was being charged €14,000 to upgrade the battery and they could not guarantee that the new battery would provide the same amount of power as the previous battery. The wiring loom in some of the older electric vehicles in this country will not take the new upgraded longer life battery. It is all downhill. Yes, we see the vision, but we must also make sure it is affordable going forward, so why not incentivise something?

6:07 pm

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I am delighted to speak to amendment No. 2 and related amendments Nos. 10 to 16, inclusive. Amendment No. 2 relates to infrastructure, pedestrians, cyclists and CCTV.

In case the Minister calls us “climate change deniers” and everything else - we are not - but we cannot put the cart before the horse and that is what the Government has done here. The Government has put the horse, the donkey, the jennet and the whole lot before the cart. We do not have the infrastructure - full stop. While this legislation is well and good, the power points are not available and the battery life is not there. I got a taxi in Dublin last night. It was a hybrid car. They are fine because they keep charging themselves. I do not understand the mechanism exactly, but they recharge when they are at a certain speed and when the petrol is added.

Take a place like Clonmel. I met the famous footballer, Babs Keating - he will not mind me quoting him – at a funeral recently in Ardfinnan. He came from Dublin in his electric car and he greeted all the people who were waiting to go in. He called me over and said that he had a bit of useless information for me. He came down to where he normally charges his car, but the power charger was out of action. He went to Clonmel, where there are two charging points in the car park, but there were three cars at one point and two at the other, so he could not wait as he had to go to the funeral. He was at 20% charge leaving Ardfinnan on his way back to Dublin. I said that he could stop in the motorway service station in Cashel. He said that he could not as the station has different chargers that will not fit the car that he drives. That is like when the mobile phones came out years ago, and they are still the same, with different chargers. Is it a fact that electric vehicle chargers are not universal and that people have to be selective in what car they have and where they can be charged? That surely is madness.

Many of us meet with representatives from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry at the briefing yesterday. They have their issues in trying to keep garages and everything else going but they cannot get the cars. They simply are not available. It is not only electric cars that cannot be got. A taxi driver from the city got in touch with me about three months ago, shortly after the start of the holiday. The battery went in his 2017 BMW car. He did not know what happened. It just stopped dead on the road. So he had to get the AA or whoever it was to tow it away. The battery was gone; just like that. No warning. It would cost him €14,000 for a new battery and €1,000 to fit it. They are exorbitant prices.

Can I ask the Minister a ceist amháin about the ingredients in the batteries?

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Cobalt.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Yes, and lithium. Where are these mined from? The Minister has issues and hang-ups with fracked gas and bringing oil in from Barryroe. He has issues about LNG storage. Does he not mind child labour? I am shocked and appalled by the Members in this House who will not even refer to it. Child labour is used to mine cobalt for these batteries. The children are seven and eight years of age. This is our new dream electric industry built on the backs and the sweat and blood of children. It sickens me to the bloody core of my being that this can be totally ignored by the Minister and all the global warriors for climate change. This happens and we are passing legislation to try to protect our children from interference online. This is shocking. It is child labour in 2022 and we are turning a blind eye to it internationally.

I was contacted about six weeks ago by a good friend of mine, an old businessman in Tipperary, who has an electric bike. He had the bike which he had not used for about two or three weeks in his downstairs kitchen. At 2 a.m., while he was upstairs, he heard an all-merciful explosion. He thought it was someone breaking in, so he got dressed to go downstairs. His wife ran down. The battery had exploded in the bike. It was not left charging or anything like that. He had an awful job of covering it with coats to try to get it outside into the yard. The manufacturer said that it would replace the bike. No questions asked; do not tell anyone about this. Cars have exploded. Batteries have exploded in many places and it was all hush-hush. They are a danger in apartments and houses. The whole house could have burnt down. His kitchen was seriously damaged. I met him at the Bansha shows and he showed me the pictures of it and everything else.

Come clean with the people, please. We all want to mitigate against harmful emissions, but come clean and be honest with us. We do not have the infrastructure. We do not have longevity in the batteries. People have said that when cars are driven for a certain number of kilometres, possibly 20,000 km, the battery life diminishes quickly. Getting all the infrastructure in place, ensuring safety is paramount and, above all else, the heinous crime of child labour should be top of our agenda here. I remember many people complaining about Nicaragua and the Sandinistas. God knows, every other issue in the world has been complained about here. It is self-righteousness and it should not be happening. However, we are being told to go electric while child labour is used to mine the main ingredient for the batteries. I could rest my case on that because it is sickening.

We will not be supporting these amendments - the whole thing is based on a three-card trick, a con job really - until the Government comes clean with the people, is honest and truthful, and that the infrastructure is there and safety can be guaranteed. What happened in the car park near Mahon where they could not extinguish the fires? What happened with this battery points that were put up around the country? They are a danger. Firemen are not trained or do not have the equipment to deal with them if they go on fire. The number is not massive but there are a substantial number of batteries in them. There is a danger to the neighbours, the firemen and all and sundry.

We need an honest debate in the House and we need to come clean with the people. As far as I can see, climate change is all about controlling our people. There is no better way to control them than when their battery goes flat after a few miles and they are left in the middle of the road with nowhere to go.

6:17 pm

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Teddy McCarthy, a diesel engine mechanic, garage proprietor, petrol seller and bus operator from Sneem in County Kerry recently recounted to me the following. I will not name the vehicles involved because it would be wrong to do so. No more than naming people who cannot be here to defend themselves, naming the vehicles could be very damaging to the people who produce them. I will say they were expensive models of motor cars. One of them took off from Dublin. It had cost €82,000 and it was heading to Sneem. It made it as far as Tipperary. The next car cost €117,000 and it made it as far as Limerick. It is a sad day when someone pays almost €200,000 for two motor cars that cannot drive from Dublin to Kerry without stopping. I know of plenty of cars that could be bought for €200 that would go from here to Belfast and from Valentia Island to Derry no problem in the world without stopping once. People would not have to stop them. One fill would carry them. Everybody who wants to know already knows that the best-performing vehicle we can have is a well-serviced and well-maintained diesel engine. The Minister does not want to admit this because he is on a solo run but I will give him a couple of hard, sore facts and I would like him to listen to them if he does not mind.

We look at what a electric vehicle is and what makes it work. Lithium is used in it. What about cobalt? Cobalt is the most valuable ingredient in electric vehicle batteries. Two thirds of the global supply is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Human rights activists have raised concerns about conditions there, in particular about child labour and harm to workers' health. Like other heavy metals cobalt is toxic if not handled properly. Alternative sources should be exploited, such as the metal-rich noodles found on the sea floor. They present their own environmental hazards in trying to retrieve them from the sea floor. If that was being done the Minister would not be happy with it either.

I want to ask about the children. I ask the Minister, the Green Party, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil whether they have any concerns for the children who have to mine these materials for their fancy electric cars and their electric vehicles. It is a fair question. Do they have any concern about what is being reported by child protection agencies around the world? They have stated that children's health is being completely undermined and they are being hurt every day by being forced to work in these mines to produce the materials for the batteries they are proposing. It is a form of child abuse. No one of us would entertain a child being abused in any way. There is no reason a child in this world should not be protected and nurtured. The Government and its electric vehicles are paying no attention. I have never heard the Minister raise a concern about it. I ask him to please tell me if I am wrong. I never like to wrong anybody. I ask him to stand up here and tell me I am wrong if he has made a speech in the Dáil or any other public forum raising concerns about how the batteries are produced. Please let me know if he did so and I promise that I will correct the record. I am accusing him of ignoring this fact. I ask him to please put me right if he thinks I am wrong.

The Minister cannot stick his head in the sand forever. He cannot ignore the facts forever. The wherewithal is not in Ireland at present to produce enough electric vehicles to do the job he is asking them to do. For example, how we will replace farm machinery with electric vehicles? How will the machines work on the roads or in our quarries? How will they propel themselves? How will a hydraulic motor be worked that is powerful enough to break rock, to dig deep into the ground to make the roads and piers, to build the bridges and to do the everyday things we have to do if we are to exist in this world? In other words, the technology is not yet there.

Something the Minister has always supported is the proper storage of slurry on farms. Farmers cannot be told if a tank is full of slurry that they cannot have a tractor to agitate it, suck it out or spread it. How does the Minister propose to empty the tank? If we cannot have animals inside in the sheds we cannot have food. What will we all do? Will we go hungry?

It is like earlier today when I highlighted the Minister's glib comment that he would ban boilers by 2025. He did not think that one through either. Certainly he has not thought through the electric vehicle issues. If he did, the very first thing he would have said was that he is worried about the children. He is not because he has not said he is. I do not know how much longer he and the people who support him can ignore the hard fact that he seems completely detached from day-to-day living and the ordinary problems people have.

We are an island nation. How will the lorries go around the country to deliver the food required to keep us all alive? What about all of the other produce that needs to be brought here by ship? What will we have? Will we have sails or electric ships? The technology is not there to replace the diesel engines that are powering these vehicles, be it at sea, in the air or on land. Air travel is something else the Green Party never seems to want to talk about. It seems to completely ignore air travel. It certainly has not told us its proposals. Will it ban the people from getting up in the skies? Are they to stay where they are unless God gives them wings?

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Red Bull.

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Perhaps the Red Bull will give them wings. I would like to see something connecting the brain of the Minister with the reality of day-to-day living.

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

He and his Minister colleagues fly first-class.

Photo of Paul McAuliffePaul McAuliffe (Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I have to apologise for speaking to my colleague while other speakers were speaking. I had to try to work out if Deputy Leddin had somehow inserted an amendment into the Bill that we would make electric vehicles mandatory. Of course we are not doing so. In may ways those who have spoken have outlined exactly what the challenges are. There is a shortage of electric vehicles. They are expensive. There is no second-hand market. It is incredibly difficult for people who are struggling with the cost of living to try to make decisions that are carbon neutral. My understanding of the amendments and the broader commitment in the programme for Government is that we are trying to meet these challenges rather than using them as an excuse to say we do not want to have change.

Many people in the House speak about agreeing that climate change is a factor. We know all human activity has an impact on the planet. We want to be able to drive from Dublin to Kerry. We want to be able to do so when fossil fuels are gone. We want to continue to be able to have the type of lifestyle we do while reducing the impact on the planet. We have effectively taken all of the sea creatures and vegetation that took millions of years to distil into oil and in the space of 200 years we have burned it all. We put it all in our atmosphere. It will run out. When this happens we want to keep driving to Kerry so we have to find a different way of doing so. One of the ways of doing so is with electronic vehicles. I have no doubt that humankind will find other ways of meeting the challenge.

My understanding of the amendment and the broader point the Minister is making is that infrastructure is key. Deputy Mattie McGrath speaks about the lack of infrastructure and he is right. It is not a reason for us not to have electric vehicles, it is a reason for us to have better infrastructure. The amendment speaks about favouring versions of low-carbon travel other than electric vehicles. The Deputies might have missed the irony of their contributions. It includes electric cycling and e-scooters in the scope of the Bill and not only electric vehicles. The Deputies should be voting in favour of the amendment because they are encouraging us-----

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

They are coming across from-----

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Allow the Deputy to speak without interruption.

6:27 pm

Photo of Paul McAuliffePaul McAuliffe (Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The legislation and the amendment will allow us to focus on things other than electric vehicles. Therefore, I look forward to them supporting the amendment on that basis.

On that idea of infrastructure, it is crucially important we get the infrastructure in place in order that people have the confidence to make the switch. It will be a very difficult switch. The cost aside, although that is a significant factor, the infrastructure will be crucially important. I especially welcomed when the Minister came to Finglas a couple weeks ago where Dublin City Council installed a new mobility hub, which included charging points for electric bikes and cars and a bike-sharing scheme by the ESB. It is a publicly funded project, but we need to see far more of them.

As the site is owned by the council, in some ways, we are taking public space away to provide this facility, and I understand that, but we also have to look at private infrastructure providers. There are many petrol stations in urban and suburban areas that could accommodate more charging points. A petrol station very close to me no longer does car washing and has the equivalent of 14 or 15 car parking spaces that lie pretty much idle most of the time. It could provide the infrastructure for e-charging.

We need to look at the infrastructure for those who do not have driveways. Many people want to have the insulation of a socket where they can plug the car in, but in doing so, it would drape across a public footpath, and that, we know, would not be satisfactory. We need to get better at making sure of the regulations around how that is done and that the interaction with the local authority and so on is reduced and we need to put more supports in place for our local authorities to continue. The scheme the Minister opened in Finglas was very good.

The legislation also deals with the issue of scrambler bikes. It takes a very strong line on how they should be dealt with, giving the Garda increased powers to ensure bikes can be seized from the curtilage of the property and bringing in a new classification of vehicles and so on. That is very welcome. As a first-time Deputy, it is a bit soul destroying that the Minister, along with the Taoiseach and others, agreed that at Cabinet in January 2021 and we have not yet passed the legislation through the House. I encourage the Minister to continue because it will make a life-changing impact.

Deputies throughout the House, including those from Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and all parties, acknowledge that we need to take strong action on scrambler bikes, and I very much welcome it. What I do not want to see is e-scooters, which are a very good low-carbon option when used properly on cycling lanes within the network, replacing the antisocial behaviour that happens on scrambler bikes. We regularly see, outside schools and in our local villages, e-scooters being used on public pavements. It would be disappointing to, in one breath, close the door on the scrambler bike antisocial behaviour and, in another, not do enough to tackle the antisocial behaviour that arises from e-scooters.

Some of it will be a Garda matter. I know there are limitations in this Bill that talk about responsible use of e-scooters, but I ask the Minister to press on the Minister for Justice to ensure the Garda, as well as getting additional powers on the issue of scramblers, also implement the obligations e-scooter riders will be under in this legislation. This is about giving people more options to allow them to have a lower carbon impact on the planet. We need to have politicians who are climate brave and are willing to say things that sometimes might be unpopular or on which they might need to lead people. Some of the contributions here today were more about scaring people about electric vehicles than providing the infrastructure, which we all know needs to be provided.

Photo of Carol NolanCarol Nolan (Laois-Offaly, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I will speak to amendments Nos. 11 and 16, in particular. I will take up the point where Deputy McAuliffe mentioned that the amendment did not say that electric vehicles would be made mandatory. However, Fianna Fáil was involved in the climate action Bill in 2019. It was also involved in that announcement, was it not, where it said the Government intended to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2030? Is that not mandatory? Does the Deputy have a different perception of it or are Fianna Fáil playing games again? What is the situation there? That needs to be called out. The Deputy is misleading the public.

There is a chronic lack of infrastructure. I see that, especially in the midlands. I also know every region will see there is a lack of infrastructure. There is a lack of foresight and planning, as per usual. It is ill thought out. I am very concerned that, because charging points are miles apart and scarce, there will be major safety issues. Does the Minister expect to expose women, many of whom such as myself travel alone, to danger when they may not be able to reach a charging point because the charging points are just not there? The Minister has not thought this out. Many issues such as safety are thrown up with the electric vehicles.

There is no confidence among the public in electric vehicles. I know of one State agency in particular that will not use electric vehicles if it has to use them on long journeys. Does that not say it all? There is a lack of confidence in the ability and reliability of electric vehicles. There are issues. They are obviously not accessible to the ordinary person because of the cost. The Minister makes the point about going for zero to low-emissions vehicles and making the changes. However, our hauliers are still waiting on incentives to upgrade to the Euro 6 engines. The Minister is expecting people to change without putting any incentives, proper supports or even proper planning in place. That is the most worrying thing of all.

With regard to amendment No. 16, Deputy Leddin mentions the promotion and assistance of research and providing advice, information and guidance. What stood out to me here was that he also mentions engaging with the stakeholders. I sincerely hope the Minister does engage with the stakeholders, especially those who do not share the same viewpoint as the Green Party. It is important to hear all views about how to achieve low emissions. It must not be a tick-the-box exercise to shove the green medicine down people's throats and only engage with them if they are saying the same thing, which is what happened with home heating and biofuels, when the Minister point-blank refused to meet the Alliance for Zero Carbon Heating. I hope the Minister will engage with stakeholders on electric vehicles and that it will not go the same way as what happened with biofuels for home heating.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Before I call the proposer, I wish to say that, on Report Stage, it is appropriate for all Members to adhere to the subject matter of the amendment. I gave a great deal of leeway in that round. It will not be so in the next one.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I very much agree with Deputy McAuliffe who spoke before Deputy Nolan. The thrust of this amendment actually chimes with some of the points the Rural Independent Group was making. It is not so much that is very much in favour of electric vehicles but that it is about broadening the remit of the zero-emission-vehicle office to other forms of electric mobility. That would be positive. The Minister has indicated the amendment makes sense but needs to be looked at and discussed with the Attorney General. I welcome the Minister's intention to do so, with a view to proposing a refined amendment in the Seanad. I am happy to withdraw the amendment, as well as the related amendments when we come to them, in lieu of what the Minister has agreed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Amendments Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, and 8 are related and may be discussed together.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 54, line 11, after “importance” to insert the following: “and is primarily for the purposes of providing public transport or active (walking or cycling) transport infrastructure, only where the scheme or proposed road development will not contribute to carbon emissions from the transport sector and only where the scheme or proposed road development will not otherwise increase private vehicle travel, induced demand through the provision of road capacity for private vehicle use or induced demand through the provision of private car storage”.

Amendments Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, relate to new powers to be given to An Bord Pleanála to override development plans or local area plans. I seek to attach conditionality to that clause so there is not an unintended consequence. That is the intent. We do not want an unintended consequence that may lead to more driving and induced driving. On No. 8, I understand the NTA would have compulsory purchase order, CPO powers to acquire land so I have a concern it could do so to replace private parking. That pulls against the objective, and indeed against the Government policy seeking to reallocate road space away from private vehicles. Amendments Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, and 8 have merit and I am interested in hearing the Minister's thoughts.

6:37 pm

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for raising these matters. These amendments relate to provisions we have put into the Bill to give an underpinning to the BusConnects projects.

Section 44 provides for the insertion of a new section 51AA into the Roads Act 1993. This new provision in the Roads Act provides for an extension of An Bord Pleanála’s existing powers. The board currently has the power to materially contravene a development plan under sections 37(2)(a) and 37G(6) of the Planning and Development Act. The Bill aims to strengthen existing legislation in order to ensure the BusConnects core bus corridors are captured.

Section 44 provides the board can only approve a scheme or proposed road development that contravenes materially a development or local area plan in very specific and limited circumstances, including where the scheme or road development is of strategic, regional or national importance and where the scheme or road development should be approved having regard to the transport strategy made under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008.

On the Deputy’s proposed rewording of section 51AA(a), 51AA(b) and 51AA(d), it should be noted the development of the core bus corridors comprises a road development within section 51 of the Roads Act. While I appreciate the intention of the proposed rewording, it is not appropriate for inclusion in primary legislation. Amendment Nos. 3 and 5 in particular propose tests which are close to impossible to prove to a legal standard. Inserting them would provide an opening for plenty of legal challenges to any decision of An Bord Pleanála that relies on this section. An Bord Pleanála and presumably the applicant would have to prove there would be no increase in private car travel or induced demand in any way before this clause could be used. By contrast, the standard terminology under environmental legislation is an obligation to set out likely environmental impacts and not to guarantee a set of impacts, which is what the amendment seeks. On a practical level, if an overall transport scheme removes traffic from one corridor and reduces traffic overall but causes some minor increase on a small number of streets through diversions, that scheme would still be likely to fail this test. Similarly, the test to confirm the scheme will not contribute to carbon emissions from the transport sector will be failed the minute a single non-electric vehicle travels along the scheme.

There are similar difficulties in respect of amendment No. 8, which sets standards many valuable schemes, including BusConnects projects, could not meet. It should be noted local authorities cannot propose a development that is in contravention of a development plan under section 178 of the Planning and Development Act. Accordingly, the application of section 44 is very limited and does not alter the position for most road development as it is generally carried out by a local authority. These must be in accordance with the relevant development plan. The delivery arrangements for BusConnects are different as the NTA has temporarily stepped into the role of a road authority to implement the BusConnects projects.

Section 44 is being brought forward to reduce the potential for legal challenges and delay in these circumstances. It is important to ensure the programme’s progress through the planning system is not unnecessarily impeded due to potential deficiencies that may exist with current legislative provisions and the existing provision will ensure Government ambition in the area of megaproject delivery is complemented by a robust and appropriate legislative framework.

I thank Deputy Leddin for bringing forward these amendments. While I appreciate the intent I cannot support them and invite him to withdraw them.

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I am flabbergasted and do not know where to start. When someone who is elected by the people comes in here, having got enough votes, those people are depending on the person to do the right thing. For someone to come in here and try to use his influence to obliterate the rights and proposals put in place by a local authority that has arrived at something collectively - there are 33 councillors elected to Kerry County Council. To think that someone in this Chamber, or a group of people, would try to deny them what they had put together over hours and days, together with management. Think of all they do together. I must remind those present councillors hardly get paid anything for their time save expenses and mileage. To think we would try to take all the powers they have and entrust it to An Bord Pleanála. We know what An Bord Pleanála has been at in recent times and indeed in times long ago. It has not acted fairly and squarely much of the time. As for suggesting the taking of powers away from local authorities, given some of the things that are here by way of amendments, I am glad the Minister is not accepting them.

It looks to me as if any proposed road development or scheme would not be accepted or allowed to go ahead if it was to help cars or vehicles that were not electrically operated or if it was not for walking or cycling. God almighty, man alive, what kind of a mind would put this kind of a story together? It would mean we could not remove a shrub or a tree to give vision around a turn on a narrow road where there might be a good bit of traffic and it is dangerous to travel, even for school buses or vehicles bringing materials or feed to farmers. For someone to think they could blindfold us here and make us vote for something like that and put it through the Dáil, who the bloody hell does the Deputy think he is to try to do this to the people of Ireland or to the people of Kerry we are representing? We would not be able to widen a turn, remove a bend or straighten a bit of a road where there are accidents day after day unless the people were driving an electrically-operated car or bicycle.

I will tell the Deputy so much about two electric bicycles anyway, seeing as it came up here. I have a man across the road from me. He bought two electric bicycles. He paid €1,700 for them over a year ago. The two of them are broken down now and they want two new batteries. He will have to give over €500 for the batteries for these bicycles. That is God's gospel truth; I am not making it up. I meet him every day when I am at home. He is my next-door neighbour. This is the kind of a mind that is here telling us we will not be able to widen a road unless it is for walking, cycling, use by electric vehicles or public transport.

There is no thought about the man or woman who is getting up this morning and leaving some rural place like Gneevgullia, Scartaglin or Brosna and trying to make his or her way maybe down miles of narrow roads to get on to the N72 or the N22 which will take them to Cork, Mallow or wherever. There is no thought about those people at all only trying to deny them the right of widening a road. God help us.

Where are we with the Killarney bypass? It is no wonder this is going on since 2004. We were told it was to go ahead and that tenders would be put out in a couple of years but it is backwards it has gone now in the last two or three years since this Government got into power. It is no wonder because with roads that were sanctioned we see the Minister himself trying to block them in Limerick and other places. The Killarney bypass is vital because the town is choked because of the lack of it. God only knows when that will go ahead if he remains in power. I can see that the Government has gone frantic at the present time. They know what we are hearing, that they are finished after this term and they are trying to rush through everything drastic and any kind of proposal at all they get in their head here knowing they are finished - I do not know who will be elected next time. I may not be elected myself. There is one thing sure - the Green Party candidates will not be elected, not in rural Ireland anyway, I can guarantee it. They will not be elected by the people of rural Ireland. They would want to be fairer with their ideas if there are certain things they want to get through here. What they are proposing at the present time is absolutely ridiculous, trying to force people so they cannot be allowed to widen roads or straighten bends and that they must buy electric cars after 2030. The Government must get real because it is not real at the present time.

6:47 pm

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Listening to the tales of woe of people who have bought electric vehicles, bikes and cars, they seem like some very unlucky people. A number of my friends and family have had very positive experiences. I do not dispute for a moment the cost of replacing batteries and I am sure they have all broken down but it really strikes me that that is a lot of very unlucky people who may just be out of kilter with the rest of people's experiences. I would be cautious in respect of these amendments on giving powers to override or bypass local democracy. I do not think that is the intention at all; it is to ensure that is enhanced. We need to do whatever it is that we can do.

I am speaking this evening after being in contact with a man, Neil Fox. Neil's sister Donna, a very committed cyclist, was knocked down and killed. He is a cycling campaigner and I am in touch with him on a fairly regular basis. I am a very recent convert myself. The last time the Green Party was in government it advised us all to buy diesel cars. I did that. I believed at the time that I was doing the right thing. I now realise that possibly was not the best idea but I am reluctant to change a car that is still functioning. I am trying instead to leave my car at home to the greatest extent possible, so I use the train and walk and I have now started to cycle. It is a bit of a revelation to be on the bike when I am used to the car and I would have been a bit of a petrol head. The Acting Chairman and I share a constituency. It is quite the adventure to get on the rothar sometimes. We really need to be doing whatever we can to ensure that we make the roads safe for those who are cycling on them. In Skerries a couple of weeks ago, Sustainable Skerries organised a Critical Mass cycle and we took over the streets in our small town. It was very empowering as a cyclist to be able to cycle in a group. We did it at a time when it did not discommode people but we made our point fairly effectively. I try to channel the spirit of the meteorologist, Joanna Donnelly, when she says "whatever lane I am in is the cycle lane." I have to share the lane with motorists and sometimes as a motorist I share the lane with cyclists.

While I appreciate that we will not get to amendment No. 7 this evening, I ask the Minister please to take a look at it. It is a very well-written and well-intended amendment. It will enhance safety. While we are waiting on the infrastructure, we have to have a mechanism by which we hold all road users to account. I gave a commitment to Neil Fox that I would speak on this issue. It is important for those of us who are starting on the road to becoming regular cyclists that we are part of this conversation and that we have a chance to make a contribution. It can be quite nerve-wracking. I was not very familiar with what a close pass felt like until about a year and a half or two years ago. It is quite scary. When we talk about putting infrastructure in place, that needs to be done quickly. It also needs to be done in consultation with local communities. When we go out and talk to people, we find they do want that enhanced infrastructure. They want their kids to be able to cycle to school. The Minister also has to recognise that not everybody can cycle or access public transport. Sometimes people have to use their cars. Where we have to share the road, we need to maximise whatever safety measures can be put in place to ensure that we can all use the road safely and share the road.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I remind Members that there is just short of 13 minutes left before I have to draw a conclusion to this debate.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I am disappointed that the Minister did not reply to some of the questions we asked him. We asked him to tell us whether we are right or wrong.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Those amendments were withdrawn.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I know. I am disappointed that we did not hear. These amendments are fine. It is a shame that any Member would put down any such amendments to try to undermine and dismiss the elected members of local authorities. I know the Deputy himself was a member of Limerick local authority for some time.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Six months.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

All right, whatever. It is a pity. They work hard, they do not have many powers and their powers have been eroded. This beggars belief. We want to bring in powers to empower or overpower An Bord Pleanála and there is not a mention of it this time but there are question marks over An Bord Pleanála. I speak to engineers regularly in Tipperary County Council and Waterford County Council who tell me they cannot get a penny to repair a bridge or do any kind of major works. If it is not something to do with greenways or cycle paths, forget it. That is the Minister's legacy. Maybe he might tell us too, on Tipperary town, if the N24 project and the M20 project are off. Are they all buried now? I dearly hope the Tipperary bypass in the Minister's grandparents' home area will proceed. Are we going to stop everything just to have these pet projects the Minister and his Deputies want to pursue? I remember Deputy Leddin some time ago at an agriculture committee meeting said he was delighted with the price of fertilizer because farmers could not spread too much of it.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

False.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Where does that kind of thinking leave us in this Parliament? The biggest attack here is on the elected members and their powers, which are limited enough. We cannot have a road straightening for safety if we have a bad bend. We put up with it all summer, every summer that we cannot cut the briars. The bushes hanging out and briars could take the eyes off a cyclist or tear their face. We cannot cut them between 1 March and July. Surely to God health and safety must be somewhere in the balance with road safety. It is nonsense that people cannot do something for the interests of safety. It is shocking. We can do all these vanity projects, as many of them are. I respect cyclists and try to respect them as best I can on the road and share the road. Now it looks like people who have diesel or petrol cars are going to be banished from travelling the road. Will we be back on the ass and trap? Will they be allowed? If the poor old ass broke wind he would be banished too.

6:57 pm

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I call Deputy O'Donoghue to speak on the amendment if possible, please. I would appreciate it.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I believe the Minister said he would welcome this amendment being withdrawn. It is probably the first time I have agreed with him in a long time, but I agree with him there. The amendment states: "...for the purpose of providing public transport or active (walking or cycling) transport infrastructure only where the scheme or proposed road development will not contribute to carbon emissions for the transport sector..." Later, it continues, “induced demand through the provision of road capacity for private vehicle use or induced demand through the provision...” Again, if we look at the likes of the Adare bypass, that would be used for this type of project.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is not related to this at all.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Right. If we look at the likes of any of the structures in this country at the moment and we look at our bus transport system at the moment, and I will speak to the amendment on bus transport-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Bus Éireann has asked private providers to make its vehicles smaller because the road carriageways have narrowed due to the law stating we cannot cut the hedgerows. Now we are driving small vehicles, and sometimes two vehicles when one would do, to collect children. We saw that free bus tickets were handed out. The reason most of the children who want to get on the bus with their concessionary passes cannot do so is that Bus Éireann stated that because the hedging on the road carriageways cannot be cut, it cannot put on a bigger bus. The likes of a milk lorry, an ambulance or any other bus can go on these carriageways. This is actually contradicting what we are trying to do.

Let us get real here. Deputy Leddin was only on the county council for a short time. There are 40 county councillors on Limerick City and County Council – 21 in the city and 19 in the county. I would say they would be fairly disappointed that he is trying to give extra powers to An Bord Pleanála when last week’s debate-----

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is the opposite. Please read the amendment.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Last week’s debate was on the problems we are having with An Bord Pleanála and the investigations into what is happening within it.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Please read the amendment.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Go back to the amendment, please.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I will go back to the amendment. Amendments on anything to do with transport in this country should not be accepted until there is proper infrastructure. It goes back to what we said earlier on. It will come down to a situation where we will want everyone in this country to drink Red Bull and fly. Truck hauliers and private bus operators in this country have no other option because they are tied into vehicles that they need to pay off for more than ten years. Any amendments like this-----

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Go back to the amendment.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is on the amendment, if the Acting Chair looks at it. Any of the proposals in the Deputy's amendment must not contribute to the carbon emissions from the transport sector. That is what is in the amendment, is it not? I am speaking to the amendment. Again, it is about the Deputy's lack of knowledge of the sector he is dealing with and a lack of infrastructure.

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I am absolutely appalled. It is obvious the Deputy did not have much time on the local authority to be able to understand the hard work councillors do and the time and effort they put into county development plans. If the Deputy’s amendment is accepted, although it looks like the Minister and the Government will not accept it, it would take a lot of powers away from the local authority, which is an appalling attack on the local councillors who work tirelessly. Some of the amendments, let us be honest, are as good as an ashtray on a motorbike. It is a fact.

As I said, I welcome that it is being withdrawn. However, taking the powers away from-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

On the amendment.

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Yes. That is what I am saying, that this amendment will be withdrawn and I am pleased that is the case. The Minister said-----

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

We do not know that.

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

We hope that is the case. If not, we will certainly vote against it. We cannot support a situation where a local authority spends months or perhaps even years putting together a county development plan that would not come into effect if it did not tick the box of a Deputy here or that we would bring forward legislation to make sure it could be overridden by appeals to An Bord Pleanála, which is questionable in its own right.

This is a serious attack our democracy and on our local authorities and councillors who work very hard, instead of perhaps sitting down around the table and working with them. It should not be, but it seems to be Green Party policy to dictate to everyone, regardless of where democracy stands this country. We have difficulties. Just because someone is a cyclist or drives an electric vehicle does not mean that they do not have difficulties where there are bad bins or shrubs that need to be cut back. That accounts for everybody and every road user. Every road user should have that right. This amendment states: "...only where the scheme or proposed road development will not contribute to carbon emissions from the transport sector and only where the scheme or proposed road development will not otherwise increase private vehicle travel, induced demand through the provision of road capacity for private vehicle use or induced demand through the provision of private car storage."

I am totally opposed to this amendment. I sincerely hope the Minister kicks this out, like the other amendments that have been put before us. I am pleased we are in here as a Rural Independent Group to try to mind the little bit of democracy we have in this country. Quite a lot of it has been eroded over the past number of years. Amendments such as this certainly erode it further. I will not be playing a part in any way, shape or form in that kind of a trick. It has been said in here that the Green Party will not be in government next time. We will certainly have a pile of cleaning up to do, if we are in here, cleaning up the mess it has made and the hurt it has caused-----

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

On the amendment.

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

-----with people basically going broke in their homes. As I said, the amendment slightly erodes democracy when it is looking to override county development plans, override the local authorities and override what councillors and staff have put time and effort into making sure it is right. This is something I will not be supporting in any way, shape or form.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

In the first instance, I do not think it is a good practice in this House that lies are told about anybody, and lies were told.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Deputy Leddin, we do not use that word.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Very strong words-----

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

They are strong words, but a lie was said. I would ask Deputy McGrath to retract-----

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I cannot allow Deputy Leddin to correct a perceived wrong with a wrong.

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

On the amendment now, please.

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I will pursue that because-----

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Use appropriate language please.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is not appropriate.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is not appropriate to use the word "lies".

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is not appropriate. The Rural Independent Group Deputies spoke at length. They clearly did not read the amendment or understand the context of it, because what this amendment seeks to do is to not give the National Transport Authority, NTA, powers over local authorities. The group effectively argued for the amendment. I thank them for that.

I want to commend Deputy O’Reilly of Sinn Féin who spoke very well on the challenges facing cyclists and pedestrians in this country. She referenced campaigner Neil Fox, who has done incredible work in honour and memory of her sister Donna who was killed on our roads. I commend Deputy O’Reilly on that contribution.

In the limited time I have available, I will take on board the Minister’s points. I would ask that he considers them in the round on the next Stage. There is a situation in Galway where the Galway BusConnects plan has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála and it seeks to demolish private houses to create lanes for vehicles. I do not think that is a positive development. When we are creating sustainable and active travel infrastructure, we should not be taking people’s private property and demolishing houses. We should be taking that space from vehicular carriageways, where that is possible. That is the intent of this amendment.

7:07 pm

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

As the time permitted for this debate has expired, I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of 20 September: "That Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put:

The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 64; Staon, 0.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Jack Chambers and Brendan Griffin; Níl, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Michael Collins.

Colm Brophy, James Browne, Richard Bruton, Peter Burke, Mary Butler, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Ciarán Cannon, Joe Carey, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Jack Chambers, Niall Collins, Patrick Costello, Barry Cowen, Michael Creed, Cathal Crowe, Cormac Devlin, Alan Dillon, Stephen Donnelly, Paschal Donohoe, Francis Noel Duffy, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Alan Farrell, Frank Feighan, Joe Flaherty, Seán Fleming, Norma Foley, Brendan Griffin, Simon Harris, Seán Haughey, Martin Heydon, Emer Higgins, Heather Humphreys, John Lahart, James Lawless, Brian Leddin, Josepha Madigan, Catherine Martin, Steven Matthews, Paul McAuliffe, Charlie McConalogue, Helen McEntee, Michael McGrath, Joe McHugh, Aindrias Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Jennifer Murnane O'Connor, Hildegarde Naughton, Malcolm Noonan, Darragh O'Brien, Joe O'Brien, Jim O'Callaghan, James O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, Kieran O'Donnell, Patrick O'Donovan, Fergus O'Dowd, Roderic O'Gorman, Christopher O'Sullivan, Pádraig O'Sullivan, Marc Ó Cathasaigh, Éamon Ó Cuív, John Paul Phelan, Anne Rabbitte, Neale Richmond, Michael Ring, Eamon Ryan, Brendan Smith, Niamh Smyth, Ossian Smyth, David Stanton, Robert Troy, Leo Varadkar.

Níl

Chris Andrews, Ivana Bacik, Mick Barry, Cathal Berry, John Brady, Martin Browne, Pat Buckley, Holly Cairns, Seán Canney, Matt Carthy, Sorca Clarke, Michael Collins, Rose Conway-Walsh, Réada Cronin, Seán Crowe, David Cullinane, Pa Daly, Pearse Doherty, Paul Donnelly, Dessie Ellis, Mairead Farrell, Michael Fitzmaurice, Peter Fitzpatrick, Gary Gannon, Thomas Gould, Johnny Guirke, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Brendan Howlin, Gino Kenny, Martin Kenny, Michael Lowry, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Mattie McGrath, Denise Mitchell, Imelda Munster, Catherine Murphy, Paul Murphy, Verona Murphy, Johnny Mythen, Gerald Nash, Carol Nolan, Cian O'Callaghan, Richard O'Donoghue, Louise O'Reilly, Darren O'Rourke, Eoin Ó Broin, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Ruairi Ó Murchú, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Thomas Pringle, Maurice Quinlivan, Patricia Ryan, Matt Shanahan, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Bríd Smith, Duncan Smith, Brian Stanley, Pauline Tully, Mark Ward, Jennifer Whitmore, Violet Wynne.

Question declared carried.