January 25: Foynes infrastructure a pressing matter, says O’Donovan

Tim Ryan

Reporter:

Tim Ryan

An update in respect of proposed works at Foynes Port, County Limerick including the possible reopening of the Limerick-Foynes railway line and the construction of new jetty facilities at Foynes was sought in the Dáil by Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

An update in respect of proposed works at Foynes Port, County Limerick including the possible reopening of the Limerick-Foynes railway line and the construction of new jetty facilities at Foynes was sought in the Dáil by Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

“Given its strategic importance on the west coast, along with its proximity to Moneypoint, Tarbert and Aughinish Island, there is a need for an overall plan for infrastructural connectivity to be developed,” he said.

“I know the Minister travelled the N69 recently from Limerick to Foynes and will be aware of the poor road quality and the number of towns it passes through. It takes a long time for hauliers to travel on the road and the traffic levels do have an impact on local communities.”

In reply, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said Shannon Foynes Port Company, SFPC, with the ports of Dublin and Cork, was designated as a tier 1 port of national significance in the national ports policy published earlier this year.

The tier 1 ports are also designated as core ports in the trans European network - transport, TEN-T, thus making them eligible to apply for EU funding under TEN-T and the connecting Europe facility, CEF.

“There is no State funding for port infrastructural development as it could be illegal under state aid rules, nor is there any capital funding available within the port or Iarnród Éireann for reopening the Limerick to Foynes railway line owing to budgetary constraints,” he said.

The Minister said the railway line between Limerick and Shannon-Foynes port is being maintained on a care and retention basis. “Iarnród Éireann states it needs investment in the order of €10 million to reopen it for traffic,” he said.

“That can only happen if it is clear that sufficient volumes of freight will be transported on it and on foot of private sector investment. Meetings took place in 2012 between the SFPC, Iarnród Éireann and a number of potential line users.”

“The TEN-T executive agency provides funding towards the cost of studies and projects under the TEN-T programme, he added. In November 2012 it launched a call for funding proposals which closed in February 2013. The European Commission makes the final decision on applications.

“Shannon Foynes Port Company has since met with the Trans-European Transport Network executive agency, TENT-T, and the Commission to clarify any shortcomings in the project application,” he said.

“I understand the company intends to reapply for funding under the next round later in 2014. It is my intention to again issue a letter of support.”

Neville highlights needs of people with enduring mental illness

The needs of service users with enduring mental illness for social as well as clinical recovery is not addressed by the current service provision, Deputy Dan Neville told the Dáil.

Many of the vocational and training programmes which are a key component of rehabilitation and recovery do not meet the needs of service users for moving into mainstream employment, he said.

“There is a lack of adequate housing and accommodation options to enable service users move through the difficult stages of recovery and progress towards the goal of independent community-based living,” he said.

“A Vision for Change recommended assigning a rehabilitation and recovery community mental health team to population groups of 100,000,” he said.

Deputy Neville said A Vision for Change, the report of the expert group on mental health policy, states rehabilitation and recovery mental health teams should provide a specialised service for people disadvantaged by a range of problems which can develop with severe mental illness and which cannot be adequately dealt with by general adult community mental health teams.

“It is important that a process is introduced which enables disadvantaged individuals to access as independent a life as possible in social, cultural and economic terms,” he said.

In reply, Minister of State Alex White said a major direction undertaken by our mental health services since the publication of A Vision for Change is to provide services in community settings and improve access for individuals. In this regard, a significant portion of the €90 million provided since 2012 for new service developments has been directed to strengthening community mental health teams, including rehabilitation supports for adults and children.