The Munster MEP for Ireland South, Sean Kelly, has called for the appointment of an independent management consultant to oversee the allocation of €2.7m in monies for former Waterford Crystal workers from the EU’s Globalisation Fund.
Last week, the EU’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee voted in favour of the Waterford application and it now proceeds to the Plenary in Strasbourg on Tuesday next where, it is confidently expected, it will be passed. A group of former Crystal workers is expected to be present for the important vote.
Mr Kelly is mindful that the funds need to be spent by August of next year or else they money will revert to EU coffers. In other words, he said, it was vital that the money be utilised as soon as possible and, if necessary, an independent person or body should be appointed to fast-track the operation.
A number of workers already had self-employment projects underway and the earliest possible transfer of funds to them would be a great help, insisted Mr Kelly. “The sooner the better”, he declared.
He also said that many former Crystal workers would be commencing courses after the summer break and they needed to know where they stood. Regarding courses already undertaken by the workers, Fas should be able to reclaim all monies already invested as and from the date of the application, August 2009. There was a lot of confusion around that issue but it was clear that the fund was there to finance all courses deployed to assist the workers, he said.
The availability of courses should be publicised as much as possible and bodies such as Fas and Enterprise Boards needed to move very quickly.
Perhaps, suggested Mr Kelly, it might be best if a non government figure was put in charge of the allocation of the fund such as a management consultant with a thorough knowledge of business and training. The MEP also said it was not clear whether or not non FAS, FETAC or WIT courses were covered by the €2.7m fund and that was something that needed to be clarified as a matter of urgency.