Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD has warned that the ongoing dismantling of Citizens Information Services across the State is “disastrous for communities”.
Speaking this morning, Teachta Kerrane said:
“The ongoing dismantling of Citizens Information is now being seen in many different parts of the State and the impact of its loss will be disastrous.
“We, and others raised alarm bells as to the future of MABS and Citizens Information when restructuring and regionalisation by the Citizens Information Board went ahead in 2017.
“At the time, the Committee on Social Protection examined the restructuring plans, held hearings with representatives from MABS, CIS and the Citizens Information Board, compiled a report and recommended that the restructuring not go ahead. This was ignored.
“In fact at the time, it was Fianna Fáil in opposition who brought forward a Dáil Motion calling on the restructuring plans to be scrapped which we supported. They now appear silent as the consequences of restructuring is felt in communities, exactly as we warned it would.
“The decision to change the way in which Volunteers give their time and expertise in Citizen Information Services across the State, some for decades, does not serve the general public.
“In one case recently highlighted we are seeing the potential loss of over twenty Volunteers in one Centre, replaced with a part-time staff member who will provide far less of a service in terms of opening hours and time.
“The treatment of Volunteers is also disappointing as is the lack of recognition for what they have provided for decades right across the State.
“Citizens Information is a really crucial service and it is needed now more than ever. The loss of Volunteers’ expertise and time will be hugely negative.
“We are seeing a very particular agenda by the Department of Social Protection to centralise and to move services out of communities. We’ve seen it with the loss of Job Clubs, the changes to Community Welfare Officers and ongoing within Citizens Information. This agenda does not serve the people.
“Minister Humphreys should reflect on the impact of these decisions for communities.”