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Ireland may have to pay back €19.8 million of Youth Unemployment funding

10 May, 2016 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Speaking this afternoon Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan has raised her concerns over the possible loss of €19.8 million in European funding because the last government did not install the required computerised accounting and information system for EU funds necessary to meet the European Social Fund (ESF) Programme for Education, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) requirements.

MEP Boylan said: 

"Through information released to me and my colleagues in Sinn Féin, through Priority Questions to both Dail Eireann and the European Parliament, I have become aware of the possibility that Ireland may have to reimburse the European Commission €19.8 million in ESF funding. 

"The funding which was drawn down by the Irish government as part of the European Social Fund Programme for Education, Inclusion and Learning may have to be repaid as Ireland does not yet comply with the relevant regulatory requirement. 

"The funds were made available as part of an overall initiative to combat youth unemployment. However, as with most of the previous government’s measures to combat youth unemployment they seem to have failed here too, as it is a very real possibility that this funding will have to be paid back. 

"This failure comes in spite of the fact that the number of young people under the age of 24 in employment actually decreased by 23,800 under the last Fine Gael and Labour government, according to CSO figures. 

"In the main, the issue arises because Ireland has not yet put in place the required computerised accounting and information system necessary to make a claim to utilise these funds. 

"And yet it is only now that the government is developing the national IT system necessary to meet requirements.  It is expected that it will be December before the system can go live, as a result Ireland may not qualify to keep the funding allocated thus far. 

"While the monies may still be available to draw down before the year-end 2018, providing the next government meets European requirements, it is not acceptable that Ireland has lost this funding for this year because of a failure of the last government. 

"Time and time again it has been the same story when it comes to correctly drawing down European funds. These funds are sorely needed to help combat youth unemployment, yet the last Fine Gael and Labour government did not see fit to make sure that all requirements were met for utilisation of funding, and now there lies the possibility that €19.8 million in funding will have to be reimbursed to the European Commission.

"It's rich that members of the previous government were quick to criticise young people for watching TV and needing an incentive to look for work when they could not get their own act together to install an IT system on time!" ENDS

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