Sinn Féin TD John Brady has expressed concern at reports that the Citizens Information Board (CIB), which falls under the authority of the Department of Social Protection, and Minister Heather Humphries, will no longer provide funding for the replacement offices of the Wicklow Town Citizens Information Service (CIS).
Deputy Brady said that this decision puts at risk the continued service provided by Citizens Information Service in the town as the previous premises were deemed “unsuitable under HSE guidelines”.
“I have real concerns in relation to the continued operation of the Citizens Information Service in Wicklow Town unless the decision not to provide funding for a replacement premises in Wicklow Town is reversed,” he said.
“The previous office in Wicklow was forced to close under HSE guidelines during the pandemic. The Citizens Information Board (CIB) who are the funders of the Citizens Information Service approved funding for the appointment of a project manager for a new premises.
South Leinster Citizens Information Service, on behalf of CIB, has since secured planning permission for a replacement premises – however, at the last board meeting they South Leinster arm was advised that funding would no longer be providedd for the refurbishment and opening of a replacement premises in Wicklow Town.
“Unless this decision is reversed it will seriously put at risk the continued operation of the vital service in Wicklow Town,” Brady continued.
“The Citizens Information Service in Wicklow Town provides critical assistance to many of the most marginalised and vulnerable members of our community. In an average year the CIS deal with over 4,500 appeals for help. It provides a free, non-judgemental, and confidential service, providing advice and advocacy on a wide range of issues including social welfare, employment rights, housing, health, and immigration.
“It is not just the CIS which is affected. The Money and Budgeting Service (MABS) in Arklow, was able to use the CIS office in Wicklow Town to provide clinics for clients who were not in position to travel to Arklow. The Bray Women’s Refuge will also be availing of the new CIS premises if and when the funding is granted.”
“There are no other organisations in Wicklow Town which can provide the service that the Citizens Information Service does. It is an important service to the local community and needs to be resourced. There needs to be a guarantee of funding, and the decision to relieve CIS volunteers of their frontline role, which was taken during the pandemic, needs to be overturned, in order to meet the growing demand for services.”
Deputy Brady has said he will contact Minister Heather Humphries and the Citizens Information Board in relation to the matter.