Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has enlisted the support of Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty to prevent the closure of the Shannon Citizens Information Office which has been operating in the town for more than 40 years.
And his intervention has resulted in an agreement between the Clarecare social services organisation and the Citizens Information Board (CIB) in relation to the provision of information, advice and advocacy needs in the Shannon area.

This will involve CIB providing funds to the North Munster Citizens Information Service (CIS) to employ two new part-time Information Officer posts. The two post holders will be employed by North Munster CIS who will work with Clarecare to locate them in the Shannon area.

However Deputy Carey says that the preferred solution would be for the Shannon office to be funded in such a manner that Clarecare can provide the same diverse level of service that has served the Shannon catchment area so well for so long.

“I am meeting with Minister Doherty on this important matter this Thursday and I’m also in discussion with Minister Michael Ring and Minister of State Sean Canny to see what other resources could be allocated to the Shannon office from the Department of Rural and Community Development. I am also exploring other potential supports to top up the funding that has already been committed by the Citizen’s Information Board.

“I visited the Shannon Citizens Information Office to met with staff last week and I have been in touch with the management of Clarecare for a comprehensive brief in terms of the financial pressures which has led to the decision to close such a vital community resource,” he explained.

“The Clarecare Shannon Community Office is a first stop shop for people in crisis since the 1970s. The three part-time staff who operate this five day a week service are exceptional people who deliver a top class service to the public of Shannon, Newmarket on Fergus, Sixmilebridge, Quin, Cratloe and Bunratty.

“They also provide essential information outreach services to various organisations and groups in the area. It’s important that the necessary funding is sourced in order to ensure that this vital resource is retained,” Deputy Carey concluded.

The issue has also been highlighted by the LoveShannon group who have launched an online campaign to have the decision to close the office reversed.

According to its secretary Niamh O’Callaghan, the withdrawal of funding from the Shannon Community Office effectively means that if people in the Shannon catchment area need help, they will have get a bus to Limerick or Ennis.

That aside, it also means that the Shannon community diary which has been a valuable source of local information will be no more.

“This is a valued service in our town and to lose it would be disastrous. We are also appealing to our neighbours in Sixmilebridge, Newmarket, Bunratty, Drumline and Cratloe to support us in our efforts to keep this office open”.