A fund to help unemployed workers in the Limerick town of Rathkeale get back to work has crossed its first hurdle, with members of the European Parliament giving it their support.
The €2m — a mixture of money from the EU’s globalisation fund and from the Government — will provide guidance, training, education and enterprise support for more than 276 people in the west Limerick region.
The issue was championed by MEP Sean Kelly and got the full support of the European Parliament’s Globalisation Fund group.
The main group to benefit will be 169 workers from the jewellery manufacturing plant, Andersen Ireland, in Rathkeale, which shut last September with the loss of all jobs.
The others will be young people in the area under the age of 25 who are not currently in education, training or employment. Ireland has the highest percentage of such young people in the EU.
“This thumbs-up is an important step forward to finalise the application made by the Department of Education and Skills for a programme of guidance, training, education and enterprise supports for more than 276 persons in West Limerick under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which the EU would co-finance,” said Mr Kelly.
The funding now needs to be approved by the EU Council, which represents the member states, and this is expected to happen over the next few weeks.
The money will need to be spent by May 2016 on career guidance, training, second and third-level education courses and enterprise supports for those who want to set up their own business.
The closure of Andersen was a big blow to Rathkeale since it provided employment in the town for almost four decades.
It manufactured costume jewellery that was exported to a sizeable number of other European countries but had been experiencing financial problems for several years.
The EU’s globalisation fund established five years ago has helped close to 10,000 people in Ireland, including those who lost their jobs in Dell, Limerick, Waterford Crystal and TalkTalk.
“We will be working closely with officials and workers on the ground to progress this application,” said Mr Kelly.
There is a strict time limit within which the Government must apply for the funds.
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