EC approves €14.8m grant


Ireland's application for a grant of €14.8 million to help over 2,000 former Dell workers find work under new EU crisis measures must go to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU for final approval.

The funding application relates to 2,840 redundancies - 2,130 in Dell and 840 in eight of its suppliers and producers.

In January Dell announced it was planning to move its Raheen operation in the mid-west to a lower-cost environment in Poland, shedding some 1,900 jobs. Some 230 jobs were also lost in March from the company’s Cherrywood operation in south Dublin.

President José Manuel Barroso, who was in Limerick for a one-day visit yesterday, announced that the European Commission has approved the application for assistance from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF), a €500 million back-to-work scheme used to help retrain workers who lose their job due to the effects of globalisation.

The package is intended to help the workers by offering them job guidance, support to set up their own business, training and retraining, an internship programme and education allowances and grants. The total package comes to €23 million, with the Government to put up an extra €8 million.

"The economic crisis is affecting all European countries but. Limerick and the surrounding area have been hit hard by job losses at the local Dell plant and its suppliers, " said Mr Barroso, a former Portuguese prime minister who won re-election for a second term as head of the EU executive this week.

"The EU is built on solidarity. Our natural response is to come to the aid of those who are experiencing difficulties and to take decisive action to tackle the jobs impact of the crisis. The EGF is one way the EU is helping redundant workers back into jobs, and I am glad that these workers will be able to benefit from the help the EGF can provide."

Mr Barrosso also opened the door for possible further funding. “I am very glad that the Commission can demonstrate concretely the union’s solidarity with Limerick and the surrounding area in this manner,” he said. “I can also say that if any further applications are made from Ireland or elsewhere we will look at them in the same spirit of solidarity.”

Mr Barroso, who came to Ireland to support the campaign for a Yes vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum, warned councillors in Limerick that Ireland could lose its right to nominate an EU commissioner if it rejects the treaty for a second time. He also repeated his argument that a No vote would create uncertainty about Ireland's place in Europe, further damaging its economy.

The People’s Movement, which opposes the treaty, described the announcement as a “cleverly timed stunt”.

Chairwoman Patricia McKenna claimed Mr Barroso’s visit was an “appalling abuse of power”. She claimed he has “no right” to campaign for a Yes vote in Ireland. “He is not an impartial person and has a vested interest in getting this treaty passed,” she said.