Dáil Éireann - Volume 640 - 25 October, 2007
Written Answers. - Tourism Promotion.
Deputy Kieran O’Donnell Deputy Kieran O’Donnell
Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the status of the report of the advisory group on the Church Records Computerisation Project; the actions being considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25587/07]
Deputy Séamus Brennan Deputy Séamus Brennan
Deputy Séamus Brennan: The Advisory Group report on the Church pre-1900 Birth, Marriage and Death Records Computerisation Project was approved by my Department in August of this year. The Report concluded with a number of recommendations and included best practice guidelines for Irish genealogical websites.
The Report recommended that Irish Genealogy Limited (IGL) should operate with a revised role as, primarily, an advisory body for my Department on genealogy matters. A revised constitution has been drafted reflecting this new role and an extraordinary general meeting of IGL is due to be held in the near future to adopt the new documents of association after which I will be appointing the new IGL Board.
Arising from a recommendation in the Report that priority should be given to the computerisation of outstanding Dublin City Records, my Department has made very significant progress in partnership with Dublin City Public Libraries on the computerisation of Dublin City records. Work is ongoing to computerise the transcribed Catholic records (i.e. those transcribed to index cards) and it is anticipated that approximately 600,000 Dublin City records will have been computerised by the end of this year. This constitutes almost all of the transcribed records for the Dublin City parishes. A scoping group has also been established to assess the most effective method for the computerisation of the remaining un-transcribed records.
Officials from my Department have been in contact with a number of other genealogy centres, with a view to assisting them in completing the computerisation of their remaining records. The best practice guidelines for Irish genealogical websites have been circulated to all centres seeking funding.
By implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Group and in partnership with the various genealogy centres, it is hoped that significant progress will be made in making available a comprehensive set of records which can provide motivation for potential overseas visitors to visit Ireland, can enable people living in Ireland to  carry out family research and can facilitate social research.
Deputy Andrew Doyle Deputy Andrew Doyle
Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to the importance to tourism of transport access from the country’s major airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25643/07]
Deputy Séamus Brennan Deputy Séamus Brennan
Deputy Séamus Brennan: The importance of transport access to and from our major airports is clearly identified as a key element in the Government’s strategies for the development of tourism. Of course, planning and investment in transport infrastructure in a matter for my colleague the Minister for Transport and the agencies under the aegis of his Department.
The report of the Tourism Policy Review Group, New Horizons for Irish Tourism: An Agenda for Action, published in September 2003, set out a comprehensive tourism development strategy for a ten-year period and included a detailed and practical action plan. Among the actions identified in the Report was the achievement of the early completion of the National Roads route network around international air and sea access points, significant upgrading of facilities and accelerating proposals for developing a metro link between Dublin airport and Dublin city centre.
In 2006, the Tourism Action Plan Implementation Group, which was appointed for a period of two years to oversee implementation of the recommendations, reported that good progress had been made on the transport infrastructure actions identified in New Horizons. In particular, the inclusion of these actions in Transport 21, the Government’s medium-term investment framework for transport, was welcomed by the Implementation Group.
Since then, there has been continuing progress on transport access issues. For example, I understand that, following announcement of the selected route for Metro North from St Stephen’s Green to Swords via the Airport in October 2006, the procurement process is well under way. Construction is due to commence in 2009 and finish in 2012.
I do not need to spell out in detail the very significant progress that has taken place in improving our road and rail infrastructure under the aegis of the Minister for Transport in the last few years. This has been paralleled by the ongoing investment in non-national roads by local authorities, funded by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government — which is also very significant for regional airports. The Government’s recent decision to bring responsibility for all investment in roads under the remit of the Department of Transport will  facilitate the continued delivery of this investment.
In the related area of signposting, the National Roads Authority, in consultation with my Department and Fáilte Ireland, has published a “Policy on the Provision of Tourist and Leisure Signage on National Roads” which was published this year.
The Tourism Strategy Implementation Group was appointed in 2006 to oversee the implementation of the outstanding recommendations in the New Horizons report, to review the targets in the light of performance to date, and to recommend a possible framework for a mid term review due to take place next year. The Tourism Strategy Implementation Group is at present preparing a progress report, outlining achievements in the sector over the past two years and initiatives underway to address ongoing challenges.
Dáil Éireann 640 Written Answers. Tourism Promotion.