Government 'allowing red tape to delay cash for Dell workers'
A SENIOR MEP yesterday accused the Government of allowing red tape to prevent emergency funding getting to unemployed Dell workers.
French MEP Elisabeth Morin-Chartier led a delegation of her colleagues from the European Parliament's Committee on Employment to Limerick, where they met with members of the Dell Redundant Workers Association (DRWA).
The DRWA told the MEPs of its frustration in attempting to receive funding from the €23m pot made available under the European Globalisation Fund (EGF).
The Department of Education and Skills took over the administration of the fund from the former Department of Enterprise and Trade last March.
Ms Morin-Chartier said she was surprised at the level of Irish bureaucracy encountered by the affected workers in attempting to access the EGF.
Chairman of the DRWA Denis Ryan told the visiting delegation that he felt more comfortable going to Irish MEPs such as Alan Kelly, Sean Kelly or Proinsias de Rossa than bringing it up with anyone at government level.
"The Government is very slow in moving forward. It is the old story -- it has no ideas and I don't support any political party," Mr Ryan said.
Eight months into the implementation of the fund, an estimated €2m has been drawn down by workers.
It was feared funding not accessed within the remaining 15 months will be returned to Europe, but the French MEP moved to dispel such fears.
"This is precisely why we came here," Ms Morin-Chartier said.
"We are not here to give with one hand and to take with the other. We are here for the interest of workers. We don't want to get money back, this would be our own failure," she added.
Yesterday's visit to Limerick was the first time a delegation of MEPs had travelled to a member state to see how the EGF was being implemented.
"We think that flexibility of use of the fund is something which should be implemented by the member states. This fund was created for workers so that they could get back to work," Ms Morin-Chartier said.
Ms Morin-Chartier's report should be completed before the European Parliament breaks for the summer and it is hoped that a vote will be taken in July.
Labour MEP for Ireland South Alan Kelly said it was time for the Government to "finally get its act together and be more flexible" in allowing access to the fund. "The Government's planning on the EU Dell fund is now proving to be shambolic," he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Education and Skills last night claimed the department was doing all it could to administer the fund and "bring together all state agencies and relevant players in the region".
"We are determined to keep bureaucracy to the minimum, but in administering the fund, the Government remains accountable for each euro spent and will be subject to . . . EU audit on the funds," he said.