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John Drennan: 'Political inertia' hits retraining

MORE than 19,000 unemployed bricklayers, carpenters, architects and other building workers have lost out on critical retraining because of political indifference, the Fine Gael finance spokesman has claimed.

Kieran O'Donnell said that the unemployed workers were in danger of losing out on critical up-skilling because of "the political inertia" that has surrounded the Government.

Seven months ago, the Tanaiste Mary Coughlan revealed a €63m retraining fund, with €40m coming from an EU Globalisation Fund.

At the time, she claimed: "This is a result of excellent co-operation between a number of government departments and state agencies'.

But Mr O'Donnell said he was shocked to discover that "seven months after the announcement, no application has been made to Europe for the funding".

Instead, he claimed that the Department of Education told him that the Tanaiste had merely lodged an indicative application, saying that she intended to lodge a formal application later.

He commented: "This is appalling negligence. The futures of 9,000 people have been left in limbo because of the inactivity of the Tanaiste."

Mr O'Donnell said many of these workers have now been forced to emigrate.

He asked: "What has the Tanaiste been doing for the last seven months and why did she claim that a full application had been made?"

Sunday Independent