SINN Féin TD John Brady has expressed frustration at the continued failure of Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys to make a firm commitment to provide funding to enable Citizens Information Service (CIS) offices to reopen at an appropriate venue in Wicklow town.
In March this year, the South Leinster CIS Board took the decision to close the office as part of its Covid response. Funding is needed to obtain another location.
“Since last year I have been trying to secure a commitment from Minister Heather Humphreys, who is responsible for the Citizens Information Commission which operates under her ministry, that they will honor an earlier commitment from provide the necessary funding to allow the CIS office in the City of Wicklow to reopen,” Deputy Brady said.
In the minister’s latest response, she says discussions are currently underway between her department and the Citizens Information Board (CIB) to complete the development of new premises for the town of Wicklow. The Minister also states that they hope to find funds under the current 2022 budget for the CIB.
The CIB had previously approved funding for the appointment of a project manager. He had also asked Wicklow Town CIS to submit planning permission to secure the new premises, which he did. Therefore, CIS submitted funding requests related to these developments in April and June 2021, and again in October. However, they were informed in a subsequent meeting with the CIB that funding would not be granted for the new premises.
Deputy Brady added: ‘The original CIS office in Wicklow was forced to close under HSE guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the reality is that the service has outgrown its previous location and needs to secure promised funding to allow it to move into its new offices and continue to provide a vital service to the people of Wicklow Town.
“It’s not just the CIS that is affected. The Arklow Monetary and Budgetary Service (MABS) was able to take advantage of the CIS office in the town of Wicklow to provide clinics for clients who were unable to travel to Arklow. The Bray Women’s Refuge will also benefit from the new CIS premises if and when funding is granted.
Deputy Brady stressed how vital the CIS office is to the town of Wicklow, as no other organization in the town provides similar services.
“It’s an important service for the local community and it needs resources. Our country, our county and our local communities are going through a very difficult time,” said MP Brady.
“With the rising cost of living, utility bills, rents and heating costs skyrocketing, ordinary people are under more and more pressure, and the work provided by the Citizen Information Service will become even more important as government mismanagement of the economy and contempt continues to bite.
“It is simply unacceptable for the Minister to say that ‘it is hoped’ that funds can be found. We need irrefutable guarantees that the government will allocate the necessary funds for the reopening of the CIS offices in their new location. »