Error blamed for job losses

Community organisations in Derry have called on the Minister of Employment and Learning to reconsider applications for 25 employment scheme jobs which were not processed following an “administration error” at the North West Regional College.

The positions, which are part of the Step Ahead programme, were not registered on time as a result of the error.

The scheme provides full-time employment placements for the long term unemployed in community development projects across the city. A range of community groups, including Dove House Community Trust, Rosemount Resource Centre, and Creggan Neighbourhood Partnership, are affected by the error.

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry, responding to a question from Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney, said he cannot accept any late applications. Community workers have called on the Minister to review his decision. Sean McMonagle of the Triax Neighbourhood Management Team said all of the applications were submitted on time.

“The community organisations fulfilled all their requirements on time as did our partners in the Derry Youth and Community Workshop, it was the DEL partners who made the mistake.

“We are demanding the minister does not punish the community organisations, the long term unemployed or the wider community, but does the right thing and allow these posts to be processed,” he said.

Mr McCartney also called on the minister to reconsider, saying: “I believe with a common sense approach this can be resolved.”

A spokesperson for North West Regional College said: “North West Regional College can confirm that 9 vacancies in the Step Ahead programme were overlooked due to an administrative error.

“A further 16 vacancies were unable to be processed as the result of an electronic server issue.”