TD calls on Minister for Social Protection to abandon plans to replace Citizens Information and MABS offices

WEST Cork independent TD Michael Collins has called on Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, to abandon plans to replace the 93 Citizens Information Service (CIS) and Money Advise and Budgeting Service (MABS) boards across the country with 16 regional boards.

“West Cork CIS is an example of one of the 42 CIS services. It provides a top class information, advice and advocacy service to the people of West Cork,’ Deputy Collins said. ‘In addition staff deliver information talks all over West Cork, throughout the year, in response to requests from local community and voluntary groups. For West Cork CIS and most CIS this proposed restructuring will result in them having a lot less autonomy and with that the removal of community ownership and active citizenship.

“There are currently 1089 volunteers in the CIS Network and over 500 in MABS, who have a right of participation on boards, these volunteers will not be represented or allowed participate in the new regionalised boards, volunteers are effectively being disenfranchised in this new model, Minister are you actively trying to end volunteerism in this service?” Deputy Collins said.

“There are huge concerns that the introduction of a new layer of regional managers will create a new layer of bureaucracy and will hamper the ability of the service to respond in an efficient and flexible manner to local needs as they present.”

Deputy Collins said that this proposal will do nothing but cause problems for the local volunteer spirit especially in rural Ireland.

“There is an old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ I believe that this saying could not be more appropriate in this instance. MABS and CIS must be maintained ‘as is’ in our communities and constituencies. It must not become another victim of regionalisation at an additional cost to the taxpayer,” he added.