Citizens’ queries to information centre soar towards 2010 levels

By Mary Dennehy

THE TALLAGHT branch of the Citizens Information Service is the fifth busiest in the country, with the local hub dealing with 16,588 queries from the public between January and June of this year.

According to the National Citizens Information Service (CIS) mid-year activity report, Dublin City Centre CIS topped the table, followed by Donegal, Tipperary and Galway – with Tallaght, which is the only local office listed among county-wide offices, being the fifth busiest out of 42 centres nationally.

Citizens Information 02 27 October 2016

Based in Hainault House, beside The Square shopping centre, the Tallaght Citizens Information Centre (CIC) has dealt with 16,588 queries from the public in the first six months of this year – almost half of which came through its outreach centre on Level 1 of The Square shopping centre.

According to figures provided to The Echo by Tallaght CIC, 42 per cent of queries for the first six months of the year have been around social welfare entitlements.

Some 10 per cent of queries are around health issues, an increase of 36 per cent on the same period last year – which is mainly due to an increase in medical card applications and a busier weekly outreach service in Tallaght Hospital.

Nine per cent of queries are housing, a 56 per cent increase on the same period in 2015, and a reflection, according to staff, of the growing housing crisis nationally, while six per cent of queries are around tax issues – due to the impact the closure of the local tax office in Tallaght has had on the public.

Vikki Hughes, Tallaght CIC manager, said: “We are really stretched, we have two full-time and three part-time staff . . . and this has been the busiest year since the height of the recession when we had 32,000 queries in 2010.

“However, we believe we could be on target to meet that figure by the end of 2016.”

She added: “Despite the limited staff, which, regrettably, impacts at times on the opening hours of our fantastic new modern kiosk in The Square, we still deal with every person who comes to us.

“I think being the fifth busiest in the country is a reflection of the size of Tallaght, but also a reflection of the quality service provided, the trust in Tallaght Citizen’s Information staff and the need locally for an impartial, confidential service like this.”

In August, the Tallaght CIC surveyed 245 of its clients, 62 per cent of whom said they heard about the information centre through word-of-mouth, with only one client commenting that they didn’t receive the information they wanted.

Ms Hughes said: “We treat everybody who comes through our doors equally and despite the limited staffing, we are here to support anybody who needs information.”

The main office of Tallaght CIC is in Hainault House and opens daily form 9.30am to 1.15pm and 2.15pm to 4.30pm.

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