€2.5m Euro aid for laid-off Waterford Crystal workers
A €2.5m grant has been approved by the European Commission to aid around 600 former Waterford Crystal workers.
The financial package will be set aside to assist redundant staff to get new jobs through occupational guidance, help for business start-up and training and education.
Laszlo Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said the ruling will help former workers on the road to a new job.
"The crisis has hit Waterford particularly badly because the fall in consumer purchasing power led to a drop in demand for luxury items like crystal glass," he said.
"The globalisation fund will help cushion this dramatic change by helping workers better prepare for and find new opportunities."
The Waterford region was dealt a major blow last year when Waterford Crystal, a massive tourist attraction, was placed in receivership.
The EU application related to a total of 653 redundancies, of which 627 were in Waterford Crystal and 26 in three of its suppliers. Of these, the 598 most disadvantaged will receive support.
The decision will now go to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU for agreement.
It will be part of an overall package of almost €4m, with the balance due from the Irish Exchequer.
Labour MEP Alan Kelly said the Government must immediately start putting the structures in place that will allow workers benefit fully from this once-off fund.
"They owe it to the workers to see that this money is used to the maximum benefit," he said.
"The psychological blow to the city and the region of losing Waterford Crystal cannot be underestimated."