Dáil Éireann - Volume 426 - 23 February, 1993

Written Answers. - Customs Clearance Sector.

71. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Finance the action, if any, he proposes to take to assist those customs clearance agents who have lost their income and employment arising out of the Single European Market at frontier points such as Rosslare, County Wexford; the steps, if any, he will take at this stage to alleviate their plight; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): Firms in the customs clearance sector wishing to diversify into other areas of business may avail of the broad range of training schemes operated by FÁS, as well as advice and support schemes from the industrial promotion agencies.

EC assistance is available to former customs clearance agents under three headings:

—existing programmes funded by the European Social Fund,

—Council Regulation 3904/92 on measures to adapt the profession of customs agents to the internal market,

—INTERREG, which is a joint cross-border programme with Northern Ireland.

In the case of existing programmes the full range of FÁS services is available to former customs clearance agents. Under Council Regulation 3904/92, some £430,000 is available to provide assistance to Irish firms with diversification plans, principally by way of training and retraining measures. Assistance can be given under INTERREG to persons affected by changes in border-related activities arising from the establishment of the Internal Market. This programme is confined to the Border counties. As the financing measures involved are provided for under the European Social Fund, [1035] applications for assistance are being processed through the Department of Enterprise and Employment.