Future of Castlepollard Social Welfare Office Still in Limbo
Deputy Peadar Tóibín has said the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of Castlepollard Social Welfare is not been given the priority if deserves by the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys.
This follows further questioning by Peadar Tóibín through Parliamentary Questions submitted to the Minister as part of the ongoing campaign to retain a full time social welfare office in the town.
Tóibín said “I have submitted a number of Dáil questions to Minister Heather Humphrey over the past number of months when the possible closure of the social welfare office in Castlepollard was first brought to my attention.
I can only describe it as a shameful tactic to link the closure of such a vital service to the retirement of its branch manager. There was clearly an agenda here already in place to try to shut it down. I have questioned the Minister in asking her if she will push against the policy of removing key services from regional towns as we are seeing around the country.
Tóibín continued “But rather than address the question asked of her on government policy, she has continued to avoid the issue providing the same answer that customers from Castlepollard must travel to Mullingar or avail of a limited outreach service 2 days per week at the Castlepollard County Council office. We know that the Social Welfare office in Castlepollard was serving a wide catchment area to areas not just in Westmeath, but to towns in Meath such as Athboy and Kells, right up to the Cavan border, and over as far as Longford”.
“To say at this stage that the matter is still being examined is quite clear to me that the Minister and officials within the Department of Social Welfare were not expecting that there would be resistance to the closure of the full time office.
It's important that we must now step up the campaign to retain a full time service and I intend to petition the Minister on the issue with the residents of the surrounding areas impacted. It time we fought back against this Government’s agenda to strip regional and rural Ireland of essential services”, Tóibín concluded.