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EU asks for return of €6m in unspent Dell retraining funds

The European Commission gave Ireland almost €15 million to retrain workers laid off at Dell – but it hasn’t all been spent.

Image: James Horan/Photocall ireland

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION is to ask Ireland to return almost €6 million of the cash it gave the Irish government to retrain the staff laid off by Dell in Limerick – because the cash has not been spent.

Ireland was given some €14.83 million under the Commission’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund, which was to be used to retrain some of the 1900 staff who lost their jobs when Dell closed its Limerick facility in 2009.

Under the terms of the fund, member states are required to spend their funding within 18 months of the application being made – and the Commission now says it will ask for just under €6 million to be returned because it hasn’t been spent within that time.

Under the Commission’s current calculations, Ireland has not spent €5,978,311.30 of the funding it was given to retrain the staff, many of whom remain out of work since Dell told staff of their redundancy in January 2009.

The cash has not yet been returned to Brussels because the Commission has not yet issued a debit note explaining how and when Ireland should return that cash.

The details were provided in response to a parliamentary question by Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty, who said he was still receiving complaints from former Dell workers who said they were finding it difficult to access the funding, which was intended to pay for training and education courses.

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“It is an absolute disgrace that any money, let alone a figure of such magnitude, should be returned unspent,” Doherty said.

Are the Minister and his officials seriously telling us that the redundant workers did not want this money or did not seek to have it spent to assist their retraining and return to the work force?

Cannon separately said that Ireland had submitted a full report dealing with its spending under a similar fund for Waterford Crystal workers in February, and that a similar report for the staff of S R Technics was to be finished in the coming weeks.

Read: Application for EU retraining fund for TalkTalk workers almost finalised

More: EU approves €35.7m of aid for redundant workers in Ireland

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Gavan Reilly

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