THE Ombudsman received 292 complaints from people in Cork last year which included 53 complaints about Cork City Council and 42 about Cork County Council.
Four complaints were received about University College Cork and three were received about the Cork Institute of Technology.
Speaking at the publication of his annual report for 2020, Peter Tyndall also announced that this will be his final annual report as he will be retiring from his position after almost eight years as Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman said: “Covid has shown us how flexible and capable our public services can be in a crisis. We need to bring that urgency and ‘can do’ philosophy to tackling issues with congregated settings including those for people with disabilities and applicants for international protection. That would be a heart-warming legacy from a grim year,” he said.
Complaints overall to Ombudsman Peter Tyndall about public services, such as those provided by government departments, local authorities, and the HSE, remained high in 2020 despite the pandemic.
The Ombudsman received 3,418 complaints from the public last year, a drop of 6% from the 2019 figures, but the highest number since 2015.
The Ombudsman expressed his concern about the continued reliance on congregated settings in Ireland. This issue was highlighted in his recent investigation into the placement of younger people in nursing homes ‘Wasted Lives: Time for a better future for younger people in nursing homes’.
There were 735 complaints about the Department of Social Protection including 126 complaints about the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Most of the complaints about the PUP were about arrears of payments to applicants after the Department received over one million applications, some of which were repeat applications as a result of people moving in and out of employment.
The Ombudsman said that while it had taken time for the Department to pay the arrears, he was satisfied that appropriate systems were put in place to deal with the issue.
Government Departments and Offices, which include the Department of Social Protection, were the largest source of complaints to the Ombudsman in 2020 (32%), followed by local authorities (26%), and the Health and Social Care sector (18%).
The Ombudsman’s annual report also summarises some of the complaints he upheld in 2020 including a Pandemic Unemployment Payment which was stopped for an entertainer working overseas; and a student who received a lower grade after marks were wrongly transcribed. The ombudsman also upheld a complaint after a website error resulted in a man paying an extra €1,000 in vehicle registration tax.
The Ombudsman’s annual report for 2020 is available at www.ombudsman.ie.