Minister Quinn guilty of maladministration of European Globalisation Fund
The Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has accused Education Minister Ruairí Quinn of “maladministration” in the running of the European Globalisation Fund for redundant construction workers.
Deputy Doherty’s comments come after it was revealed in a Parliamentary Question that only 38 of the 9,089 named construction workers in whose name an EGF funding application was secured have accessed additional supports funded by the EGF as of January 27th 2012.
Deputy Doherty said:
“In June 2010 the then Fianna Fáil government made an application to the European Globalisation Fund for a programme totalling €55 million of which €35.7m would come from the EU, to provide retraining and support for 9,089 named redundant construction workers.
“When Ruairí Quinn took office in March 2011 this funding programme was sitting in his department waiting for implementation. Crucially the funding must be spent by June 2012.
“Astonishingly it took the Minister ten months to inform the workers eligible for this support that funds were available to assist them re-enter the labour market.
“The Department of Education wrote to 8,779 of these workers on December 19th 2011. In the period from December 19th and January 27th 2012 only 452 eligible individuals contacted the EGF contact centre.
“I can reveal today that of this 452 only 38 individuals have accessed EGF funded supports up to 27th January 2012 additional to what they would have otherwise received from state agencies. A further 210 were referred on to other agencies such as FAS, VECs and County Enterprise Boards.
“While Minister Quinn may try and blame the previous Government for the maladministration of the European Globalisation Fund, the fact that this has been his responsibility for a full year means that he too is guilty of maladministration.
“While Minister Quinn was right to accuse Fianna Fáil of maladministration of this fund, eligible workers should have been informed last March that these supports were available to them. The failure of the Government to inform those eligible immediately on taking office means that tens of millions of euro will have to be returned to the European Commission. More importantly it means that workers who should have secured significant additional supports to existing provision provided by agencies such as FAS will have been denied real opportunities to improve their skills and employability.
“Given the scale of money involved and the scale of sheer incompetence the Minister must now call an independent enquiry into the operation of the European Globalisation Fund to ensure that this kind of maladministration never happens again.
“My office is receiving calls from angry workers who are only now discovering that they are eligible for this fund and had they known in 2010 or early 2011, would have made life changing decisions.”