‘Rules strictly adhered’ insists fund co-ordinator

AS this is the first time funds from the EGF have been approved to help workers who have lost their jobs in this country, co-ordination manager of the fund David Smith is very conscious of the need to ensure that everything is done in strict accordance with EGF’s rules and criteria.

To date, a number of service, training and education suppliers in the private sector have been tackled.

On vetting submissions from a small number of suppliers, Fás found that the course prices had been raised.

After this was brought to the attention of those organisations, they adjusted their course prices to previous levels.

The fund comes to a total of just over €22 million, of which €14m has been approved by Brussels, with the remainder coming from central government. The spending period is a finite one, with a cut-off date in June 2011.

Mr Smith said: “It will be time-up as far as the fund is concerned then.”

Experience from other countries given assistance from the EGF is that significant amounts are sent back to Brussels, due to the two-year life of any allocations.

The application for funding was forwarded by Fás with the help of the IDA to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in May 2009. The department worked on the submission, which went to the EU Commission and was approved in December 2009.

Mr Smith said: “It is the first time the EGF has come into Ireland and the biggest bid made within the EU. The criteria is the time-frame and it has to have a labour market outcome and has to lead to some qualifications and employment.”

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