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Minister refuses to rule out possible closure of one or two local welfare offices

Minister refuses to rule out possible closure of one or two local welfare offices

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty has refused to rule out the possibility of closing one or two of the three local welfare offices in Dundalk.

At present there community welfare services are delivered across three locations in Dundalk at Adelphi Court, Muirhevnamor and the Intreo Centre at Government Buildings on the St Alphonsus Road.

Rumours have been rife for some time that at least one of these offices may close.

This matter was raised by local TD Declan Breathnach in a written question to Minister Doherty on Tuesday.

He asked if “she is considering amalgamating her Department’s services in Dundalk, County Louth, which would involve the closure of one or possibly two local welfare offices; if her attention has been drawn to the hardship that such a decision would cause to service users that are elderly or that have mobility issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter.”

The Meath East TD refused to give a commitment that the current services would remain as they currently are going forward.

She said: “My Department is constantly looking at ways to improve services and supports. Community Welfare Services in Dundalk are delivered across three locations, including the local Intreo Centre which also provides a one-stop-shop for the full range of income and employment support services. All of the offices are located within a close distance of each other.

“Local management are currently finalising proposals to provide a more integrated and efficient Community Welfare Service to customers in the town, by eliminating any inconvenience in having to travel between locations, expanding opening hours and reducing the need for queuing. The co-location of the team would ensure that an official is always on hand to deal with emergency situations.

“The proposal will not cause any additional hardship to service users that are elderly or have mobility issues. The purpose of the proposed move is, in fact, to improve the quality and accessibility of the service and minimise inconvenience to customers. As at present, arrangements will continue be made to conduct a home visit to any customer who has a difficulty visiting the office.”

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