Accessible Information is a Public Good – Closure of Rathmines CIC Regrettable
20 April 2022
Leader of the Labour Party and TD for Dublin Bay South, Ivana Bacik has commented on reports of the closure of the Rathmines Citizens Information Centre this week.
Deputy Bacik said,
‘I am concerned and disappointed at reports that the Rathmines Citizens Information Centre is to close this week. The building in which the Centre is housed has been for sale for some time now. However, many of us hoped that this would not mean the complete removal of the service from the community. I understand that this closure is part of a broader plan to consolidate physical services, and to shift much of the service online. Throughout this process, there must be supports for people who cannot travel to another location, and who cannot use citizensinformation.ie.
‘While the online Citizens Information service is a helpful resource for many people, the closure of in-person services has a detrimental effect on people who are unable to use a computer or the internet. Groups disproportionately impacted upon include some older people, people with certain disabilities, those with literacy challenges, and those without IT skills. We already saw these negative effects borne out during the temporary closure of in-person services due to Covid-19. This permanent closure marks a sad day for the local community in Dublin Bay South.
‘It is vital that all people have access to impartial and free advice, advocacy and information on social services. This entitlement must be extended to all, regardless of ability to access the internet or travel into the City Centre. It is recognised that a shift to online services is inevitable; for many people, such a shift is very welcome. However, the transition must not leave anyone behind. The recent closure of post offices around the country, in addition to the closure of Citizens Information services, is of immense concern to a great many people. I urge the Minister for Social Protection to reflect on the closure of face-to-face services, and to engage with those who are now losing out. Impartial information about social services is a public good, and it should be accessible to all.’
Labour Councillor for the Rathmines-Kimmage ward, Mary Freehill said,
‘We have been in contact with Citizens Information Board through the City Council over the past year and were given assurances that an alternative premises would be found in Rathmines. The news that the Rathmines Centre is to close has to be challenged. Rathmines is badly in need of services, having already lost our Partnership Services for parents and children. Rathmines was one of the first Citizens Information Services in the City and I worked there as a volunteer back in 1974. They were poorer times. We must do everything to protect this valuable and necessary service for Rathmines.’