‘Irish Passport’ among most popular searches on Citizens Information website

Thousands of hits came from UK-based visitors

 Minister for  Social Protection  Regina Doherty and chairwoman of the Citizen Information Board   Ita Mangan review the organisation’s annual report. Photograph: Colm Mahady, Fennells

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and chairwoman of the Citizen Information Board Ita Mangan review the organisation’s annual report. Photograph: Colm Mahady, Fennells

 

‘Irish citizenship’ and ‘Irish passport’ were the most searched for terms on the Citizens Information website last year, with thousands of hits from UK-based visitors, the board’s annual report published on Wednesday shows.

Almost 20 million people used the citizensinformation.ie website last year with the other most popular searches relating to the contributory state pension, rest periods and breaks at work, the Family Income Supplement (FIS) and rates of pay.

This is the first annual report since the controversial decision of the CIB to reorganise its delivery of Citizen Information Service (CIS) and Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs), dissolving 93 individuals local companies and bringing them under the aegis of 16 regional companies – of eight CISs and eight Mabs.

The plan was fought by many local CIS and Mabs companies, and described as a “power grab” and an “attack on local democracy” by some.

CIB Chairwoman, Ita Mangan, addresses these assertions robustly in the report, devoting almost half her opening statement to the issue.

“These governance changes provide the foundation for more responsive, more flexible services that can adapt to local and regional trends . . . Since the reorganisation is at the level of local boards only there are no job losses and no changes to the terms and conditions of employment of current staff.”

Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, also backed the strategy change at the publication, describing the “significant changes in the CIB executive” as well as CIS and Mabs as “ambitious”.

“Each grappled with the changes that were required of them to effect the board’s ambitious . . . strategic vision of what the development and promotion of CIB and Mabs are to be in the future.

“When it’s fully embedded it will genuinely lead to a more responsive and flexible service for our customers . . . I want to wish you every good wish for the future.”

She said she “wished” there was not a continuing need for the Mabs services, adding an increasing number of those accessing Mabs had more complex and challenging situations than in past year, and more people experiencing severe mortgage debt.

The majority of over 770,000 queries to advisors related to social welfare entitlements (55 per cent), housing (14 per cent), health (nine per cent) money and tax (six per cent) and employment (three per cent).

Among other services provided by the CIB are the National Traveller Mabs, the Abhaile mortgage arrears support service, the National Advocacy Service which advocates for vulnerable people with disabilities, and the Sign Language Interpreting Service, which provides interpreting services.