No face to public services

Online services are no substitute

Sir, – Tom Rowan’s letter of July 13th highlights a worrying trend in diminution of face to face public services. His letter cites the closure of the busy Rathmines Citizens Information Centre, and sadly I can add to this closure list: the outreach information service in St Vincent’s Hospital, the one at the hospice in Harold’s Cross and the full information centre in Tallaght Shopping Centre have all closed.

The Citizens Information Board plan seems to be to put these services online. Many centres that were walk in now require prior appointment.

It raises very serious questions about the Government’s commitment to serve all its citizens equally. Along with equality we also need equity to give a helping hand to those who are not IT literate, such as some older people, people with a poor grasp of English or who need services explained on a person to person basis. That is the genesis of the Citizens Information Service.

Citizens Information Centres were established in 1976 in less affluent times by Labour Party’s Frank Cluskey when he was minister for social welfare. Frank famously declared that people shouldn’t be dependent of TDs’ clinics to find out their rights and he was determined to rectify it.


Are the Citizens Information Board and the Government equally determined to return us to dependency? – Yours, etc,



Harold’s Cross,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – Accessing public services is now almost impossible right across the board. This has been helped by the convenient excuses of the pandemic which has been used to downgrade services rather than upgrade them. It is the norm now when asked to transfer a call to be told, “I can’t, I am working from home.”

The first requirement of someone who finds themselves homeless now appears to be the possession of a mobile phone, and the internet to access services.

It is high time that someone in a position of responsibility defines what we now mean by “public services”. – Yours, etc,


Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.