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Campaign to save Citizens Information Service from regionalisation


Áine Ryan

THE regionalisation of Citizens Information Services (CIS) will inflict yet another nail in the coffin of rural Ireland while proposed efficiencies will not be achieved. That is the view of Tomás Lally, the Development Manager of Mayo CIS and Chairman of the National Development Managers Network, who last week addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection about the issues.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Mr Lally said: “The Citizens Information Services are the last drop-in face-face-services in rural Ireland. People can come to these centres to get information in a friendly and a social environment. Unfortunately, the [government] narrative hasn’t changed since John Healy wrote ‘No One Shouted Stop’ about Charlestown back in 1968.”
“The review, which has been going on for the last two years, hasn’t demonstrated that regionalisation will make the service more efficient, all it will do is add another tier of senior management,” he said, adding, “the only person who can stop this now is Minister Varadkar.”
Meanwhile, the Board of Mayo Citizens Information Service is ‘gravely concerned over the proposal to abolish county-based Citizens Information Services and establish instead new regional companies’.
The new proposal would mean that Mayo would form part of a large new three-county entity encompassing Galway and Roscommon.

Serious concern
“It is not clear how this new entity will improve information services to the citizens. On the contrary, our concern is that it will lead to a withdrawal of services in small local centres in Mayo, lead to an erosion of the independence of the information service and lead to higher costs in management and co-ordination,” said Dr Mark Garavan, Chairperson of Mayo CIS.
“As a county service we have had no meaningful consultation on this decision. It is proposed by the services funder, the Citizens Information Board, to abolish our company by the end of 2018. This has happened without dialogue, without evidence and without our consent.
“We believe the people living in Mayo should have serious concerns on this matter. An independent, locally available information service, managed by local community representatives is at the heart of our service. We judge that these new regional companies, managed by selected Boards, will inevitably lead to a loss of local service and of independence as they become more incorporated into the Department of Social Protection,” he continued in a statement.
He confirmed that CIS Mayo has written to all local TDs and senators seeking their support in questioning and contesting this proposal.

3011 MPU