Ring warns Ó Cuív not to neuter welfare officers

With more and more families falling into poverty and facing into another bleak year, Fine Gael social protection spokesman Michael Ring TD has warned Eamon Ó Cuív not to neuter the community welfare service when it joins his Department.

“Thousands of families are now at their wits’ end after another expensive Christmas,” Dep Ring said. “It’s more important than ever that the State does all it can to prevent these families from falling into further difficulties. I have always opposed transferring community welfare officers from the HSE to the Department of Social Protection, and still believe they should have been left independent. However, now that the transfer has taken place, it is vital that Minister Ó Cuív does not neuter these staff, including their power to make judgements in individual cases.”

“One of the most important roles played by community welfare officers is their ability to use their own discretion,” the Westport based Fine Gael TD added. “This allows them to respond to specific cases where families are facing particularly difficult circumstances. Minister Ó Cuív assured me in the Dáil that welfare officers would retain some powers to deal with specific emergencies. But in these straitened times, I would like further assurances from the Minister that he won’t limit their ability to provide additional assistance, where necessary. The Minister must also ensure that none of the culture of waste which has hampered FÁS, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayers’ money, is transferred to his Department when he takes on the agency’s employment and community services.”

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