Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea has said that Minister Varadkar must halt the restructuring process currently underway in the Money Advice and Budgeting Service and the Citizens Information Service and ensure that staff and volunteers have their voices heard properly.

Deputy O’Dea was commenting ahead of his party’s private members motion which is due to be debated in the Dáil tonight (Tuesday, 28th March).

“Both CIS and MABS provide significant and essential services by providing information, advice and advocacy and helping people to manage and overcome debt. 

“There is of course scope to deliver greater efficiencies and effectiveness in both organisations. Fianna Fáil is not opposed to change and reform where necessary.

“However, we are nevertheless troubled by the very real concerns that that have been voiced by staff and volunteers regarding the potential implications of the restructuring of MABS and CIS from local companies into a regional model.

“Volunteerism is at the core of the services that MABS and CIS provide. They are embedded at a grassroots level within communities.

“There is significant concern that the restructuring model will disenfranchise volunteers. This would have become apparent to those driving the restructuring if they had engaged meaningfully with staff and volunteers before they began the process.

“There is a theory permeating across government that merging and centralising services will lead to reduce costs and greater efficiencies.

“This illogical circular reasoning has yet to be proved with hard evidence, and a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed regional model must be conducted before any changes are made.  

“Fianna Fáil is calling on the Minister for Social Protection to immediately utilise the power he has under the Citizens Information Act of 2007 to issue a directive to halt this proposed regionalisation.

“We must listen to, and heed, the concerns of those who have voiced their strong reservations to the restructuring process, and who have real experience of the services.

“It is imperative that all stakeholders involved are consulted and allowed to engage in meaningful, constructive dialogue to secure an outcome that is agreeable to all. I hope the Minister listens and does the right thing on this matter,” concluded O’Dea.