Dáil Éireann - Volume 543 - 06 November, 2001
Written Answers. - Company Closures.
Mr. Stanton Mr. Stanton
155. Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress regarding payments from the European Coal and Steel Fund and possible matching payments from the Government in respect of the closure of a company (details supplied); the difficulties which are being encountered; when she expects these moneys to be released; the procedure under which matching funds will be authorised and paid by the Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26691/01]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney): Following the closure of the company, the Government approved, at my request, a proposal to seek funding from the European Coal and Steel Community, ECSC, to enhance the statutory entitlements of workers made redundant as a result of the closure of the company. My Department then applied to the European Commission for the maximum available amount of 3,000, £2,362.69, per worker of ECSC re-adaptation aid under Article 56(2)(f2>b) of the ECSC Treaty for the workers and also for certain on-site contract workers who were made redundant as a result of the closure of the company and who qualify for aid under ECSC rules due to the nature of the work carried out by them.
I have also obtained agreement from the European Commission to change a provision in a 1991 convention between Ireland and the European Commission on terms and conditions for the granting of aid provided for in Article 56(2)(b) of the ECSC Treaty. Before this amendment was made to the 1991 convention, workers over a certain age would only have qualified for aid on the condition that they retired permanently from economic activity.
It is expected that a formal decision on the application will be made by the European Commission later this month. If the Commission's decision is favourable, it is expected that the funds would be transferred by the Commission to my Department a few weeks after the formal decision, which would mean that the funds might be available for disbursement to the workers by my Department in December, at the very earliest. However, I should emphasise that this is the minimum estimated timeframe and it is very possible that the funds would not be available until early in the new year.
Part of the conditions for receipt of ECSC aid is that the member state concerned should pay a special contribution to the redundant workers which would at least match the amount to be paid by the Commission. The Government has already  agreed to the provision of this matching funding and I intend to introduce a Supplementary Estimate in the Dáil at the earliest opportunity to finance the matching payments of 3,000, £2,362.69, per worker. I am confident that my Department will be in a position to issue these matching payments to the workers before Christmas.
Dáil Éireann 543 Written Answers. Company Closures.