BALLINCOLLIG and Glanmire are to lose their Community Welfare Officers as the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection centralises its local services in Cork City.
The Department issued a notice confirming the plan this week, and people in the two towns will now have to travel to the Intreo offices in the city centre to avail of the service. A Community Welfare Officer had been available in Ballincollig on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but locals will now have to go to the George's Quay Intreo office from Tuesday, August 7.
Glanmire had a Community Welfare Officer available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but locals will now have to use the Hanover Quay Intreo office. The Department advises that home visits can be arranged if necessary for those who are unable to travel.
Cork North West Fianna Fáil TD, Aindrias Moynihan called on the Department to reconsider the move.
"This is a really disappointing move by the Department and represents a cut in services to local residents. The office serves outlying communities to the west of Ballincollig and its closure will severely impact residents who require the Supplementary Welfare Allowance while awaiting a decision from the Department on their application. Additionally, those who need to apply for the Exceptional Needs Payment will be forced to travel into the city," he said.
He said that accessing payments is already slow, and local knowledge will be lost, creating even more roadblocks.
"As we know all too well, it can take upwards of three or four months, or even longer, for certain applications for supports such as the Carer’s Allowance or Domiciliary Care Allowance to be approved.
"I am concerned that the local knowledge built up among the local Community Welfare Officer will be lost as Ballincollig residents who do attend the office in the city will not be guaranteed the same officer each time they visit.
"I really do hope that this not the start of a trend whereby state services based in Ballincollig are relocated to city centre locations. This is a major worry among the local community following the decision to extend the city boundary to include Ballincollig," he said.