The Sinn Féin candidate for the EU Midlands Northwest constituency, Matt Carthy, has called on Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to be held accountable for the mismanagement of the European Globalisation Fund application with respect to construction workers.
Carthy said that Minister Quinn needed to explain why the €20 million due to assist unemployed construction workers was not spent and over €13 million, or nearly 40% of European funds for this programme was sent back to Brussels.
“There is a huge scandal in how this government and the previous Fianna Fáil-led government have mishandled applications under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) relating to workers who were made redundant in the construction sector. These workers have been badly let down and no one has been held accountable.
“Despite 3 successful applications from the Irish Government for assistance for redundant construction workers under the EGF for 9,089 named applicants, a mere 337 people received approval for an EGF funding grant and €13,179,627 (or almost 37%) of EGF funds provided by the EU for these construction workers was returned. Crucially there were delays of 18 months in contacting those named in the application despite the fact that this group of workers were amongst the most likely to move or emigrate in search of work.
“Minister Quinn and his predecessors in the Fianna Fáil government have serious questions to answer on this issue and I believe there needs to be a full investigation.
“Sitting MEPs from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour who did nothing to stand up for these workers and their entitlement under the scheme to ‘specific, one-off support to facilitate the re-integration into employment of workers in areas, sectors, territories or labour market regions suffering the shock of serious economic disruption’ must also bear some responsibility for this debacle.
“The key questions that must be answered include:
· What was the reason for the delay in contacting the unemployed construction workers named in the application? Why were letters not issued to the persons named in the application (reduced to 8924 following a review which found duplicate entries) which was made in June 2010 not issued until 19thDecember 2011?
· Was the funding that was spent used to provide additional supports and training for these workers over and above what they were already entitled to from state services? In all programmes people complained that they were not getting personalised and additional services, rather EGF funding was being used to provide labour activation and training programmes already available by FÁS or DSP. It is clear from the EGF Regulation that this money was meant to be additional to existing member state provisions.
· Has there been any investigation into what Minister Ruairí Quinn admitted was the ‘maladministration’ of this scheme to my party colleague Pearse Doherty TD in October 2011?
“I am calling on Minister for Education Quinn to answer these questions without further delay.”