€55 Million EU training funding in jeopardy – Doherty
Speaking today after a Topical Issue debate on the European Globalisation Fund, Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty called on the Government to explain why a significant portion of a €55 million EU training fund may be returned to Brussels.
Under questioning from Deputy Doherty Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn accepted that there was ‘maladministration involved’ in the roll out of the fund and apologised to the workers.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Today the Government admitted that ‘maladministration’ has undermined the rolling out of a €55 million EU retraining programme for redundant workers. As a result a significant portion of the €55 million may be returned to Brussels and thousands of unemployed workers will loose out.
“Under questioning this afternoon Minister Quinn apologised to the workers who may now lose access to the retraining provided by this fund. Almost 5,987 construction workers who lost their jobs in 2009 and early 2010 are eligible for tailor made retraining programmes under this funding.
“However, more than a year has passed since the funding was applied for and the Department of Education has not even contacted any of these individuals. Nor has the Department conducted a detailed assessment of the workers training needs. Indeed the Department does not even know if any of these workers have emigrated.
“Apologies from Minister Quinn are not good enough. He has been in office for almost eight months. It is only next month that he will inform 5,987 redundant construction workers, some of them who are now out of work for over two years, that there is €55 million retraining fund that is in their name. These former construction workers will be left with only seven months to avail of this fund due to the maladministration of not only the previous Fianna Fáil government but the current Fine Gael-Labour administration.
“Across the country thousands of workers and their families who should have been accessing this funding have been left completely in the dark as to the supports and funding which should be available to them. Many of these people may have emigrated. This is nothing short of a scandal.
“Unfortunately it appears that this is not the first time this has happened. Similar problems were experienced by workers in Dell, SR Technics and Waterford Crystal.
“I am calling on Minister Quinn to outline in detail how much funding has been lost under this scheme to date, how much of the €55 million earmarked for construction workers he expects to have to return to Brussels, and to explain why he failed to act since taking office to ensure that vital funds for assisting redundant workers were wasted.”