Social workers in north Dublin say the welfare of their clients could be at risk if a plan to relocate them to a new office is implemented.
Social workers at the Ballymun Civic Centre have been told two thirds of staff working from the centre will be transferred to Park House on North Circular Road, while administrative staff, currently operating out of a condemned building elsewhere in Dublin, are moved in.
Affected staff have written to Frances Fitzgerald, the minister for children, and Gordon Jeyes, the HSE’s national director of children and family services.
Dublin Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind) also wrote to the HSE following a parliamentary question on the issue.
In a response from Pat Dunne, regional operations manager, children and families service, in HSE Dublin North East, Ms O’Sullivan was told while Ballymun would be “the main hub for Dublin North City” the HSE wanted to have “the optimal mix of staff in the various locations”.
“It would be neither efficient or effective to have all support staff elsewhere.”
He said all clinical staff providing frontline services to the Ballymun catchment area would remain in the primary centre.”
However, Ms O’Sullivan said: “Nobody should be in a condemned building but it does not make sense to me to move the service so far away from where they need to be.”
Two HSE areas are being set up across three existing local health offices in north Dublin.
Earlier this year, HSE area manager Anne O’Connor was quoted as saying there had been good engagement from unions and that “nothing particularly contentious or insurmountable” had been raised ahead of final reports from working groups. She said an appeals process would be in place.
The Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW), in a letter to Gordon Jeyes, said: “The proposed move will seriously impact on their ability to respond to children who are not receiving adequate care and protection in Ballymun, which they have done to date”.
IASW president Ineke Durville said: “The civic centre was purpose-built to provide a service for local people, as close as possible for them for easy access, and moving people so many miles down the road to a different area does not comply with the integration of these services,” she said.
The HSE said in a statement: “The move is being progressed by social work managers in line with the consultation principles set out in Croke Park Agreement.”
Ms Fitzgerald’s office said she would not be commenting on an operational issue.
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