Employees of the Tipperary Hostel Fás project, which is the subject of a Garda investigation, are taking an employment appeals action to secure enhanced redundancy payments.
Funding for the Tipperary Hostel project — aimed at creating a centre for tourist accommodation from a famine-era workhouse in Tipperary town — was suspended in 2010 after allegations of irregularities. The company had been formed under the Fás jobs initiative in 2000 but claims emerged that instead of working solely on the hostel project, workers were instead detailed to work on other projects in the area.
Funding body Pobal provided gardaí with a file on the case in 2010, with claims that an estimated €150,000 in grants was incorrectly drawn down.
The Garda investigation is continuing, while it is understood that Minister of State at the Department of Transport, North Tipperary TD Alan Kelly has contacted both Fás and Pobal and has raised the case within Government.
As many as 23 people are believed to have provided labour under the Tipperary Hostel plan, and one of the workers, Michael O’Dwyer, said up to 19 people are seeking enhanced payments based on three weeks per year of work on the project. The case was to have been heard on Nov 9 but was rescheduled.
Mr O’Dwyer said Fás workers provided labour for 62 outside projects but had needed to go to the Labour Court to secure statutory redundancy. “Some people were there for 10 years, some for 9½ years, some guys were there for three years, some for two years,” he said.
Local Fine Gael Councillor Mary Hanna Hourigan, who is involved in the Hostel Action Committee, said a total of €4.4m funding was provided from various sources over 10 years for the project, yet just the church section was completed and that is now falling into disrepair.
“It is a white elephant in the town,” she said, claiming that it should have taken just five years to complete but remained unfinished after a decade.
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