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TD's concerns at closure of 12 Community Welfare clinics 03.10.13

DONEGAL TD., Thomas Pringle has raised the closure of 12 Donegal Community Welfare clinics with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton who has pledged to keep the matter under review.
“I will be holding the Minister to her word on that with a view to getting the clinics reopened if necessary if the service fails the people who need it," said Deputy Pringle. "As of this week people are being asked to make their way to larger towns to avail of Community Welfare services. This does not recognise the geography of rural Ireland and the difficulties many of the clients of the Department of Social Protection face in accessing services."
He said the 12 clinics are in outlying areas with no transport links to get people to larger towns to access them.
"These are some of the most vulnerable people in society and through their need to access services they must have a lot of contact with Community Welfare Officers for vital services such as theExceptional Needs Payment or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
“The letter issued in Donegal states that these closures are due to the roll-out of the Intreo programme, a one-stop shop for employment services. However, I fail to see what the Community Welfare offices will bring to the roll-out of the Intreo service when they need to be kept in place to provide the services which are vital to those using them."
The deputy added: “One of the clinics closing is in Pettigo and an offer has been made to clients to use the clinic either in Ballyshannon or in Donegal Town.
"There is one bus service a week to Donegal Town from Pettigo and there is none to Ballyshannon.
“While there may be a telephone service available, it will be interesting to see how that will work where there are application forms to be filled out or paperwork to be sent in to the Community Welfare Officer for a decision. So I’ll be keeping a close eye on how the situation progresses."
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