11% rise in complaints over public bodies

Grievances against government departments, local authorities, and health and social services dominate the thousands of complaints to the Ombudsman last year.

11% rise in complaints over public bodies

Grievances against government departments, local authorities, and health and social services dominate the thousands of complaints to the Ombudsman last year.

The 2018 annual report for the Office shows that it handled more than 3,300 complaints about public bodies over the year — up 11% on 2017.

The highest number of complaints last year was about services provided by Government departments (1,065).

Complaints about local authority services (879), and health and social care services (730) accounted for most of the remainder.

The health and social care sector saw the largest rise, with 122 more complaints received in 2018 than in 2017.

Of the 1,065 complaints received about government departments and offices, 700 of these were about the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 106 about the Revenue Commissioners, 93 about the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, and 49 about the Department of Justice and Equality.

A total of 879 complaints were received about local authorities. Some 129 of these were about Dublin City Council, 72 about Cork City Council, 59 about Cork County Council, 52 about Limerick City and County Council, and 42 about Galway City Council.

There were 435 complaints to the councils concerned housing, 189 of which related to housing allocations and transfers and 71 complaints related to housing repairs.

Of the 1,530 cases that were substantively examined by the Ombudsman, 26% were fully upheld, 3% were partially upheld, and 52% were not upheld.

In 19% of cases, assistance was provided and the case was resolved without the need of a formal decision from the Ombudsman.

A total of 152 complaints were received by the Office from people living in Direct Provision accommodation.

Some 118 of these related to bodies providing direct provision services such as the accommodation centres, the Reception and Integration Agency, the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, and Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres.

The other 34 complaints received were about the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Health Sector and other bodies.

In the report, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall expressed his concern over the length of time asylum seekers must wait in direct provision accommodation, which he said “is unsuitable for long-term stay”.

Mr Tyndall also raised the matter of his 2017 investigation, which found that the Department of Justice had wrongly excluded some of the Magdalene laundry survivors from access to redress payments.

To date, just 10 of the 97 women who applied to the scheme after it was widened as a result of the Ombudsman’s intervention have received a redress payment.

In April, the Department of Justice said it accepted that, “on the balance of probabilities”, 14 women with whom it was in dispute did work in the High Park Magdalene Laundry post-1980.

The Irish Examiner reported in February that the women, who were in the An Grianán training centre post-1980 and worked in the attached High Park Magdalene laundry, had yet to receive an offer of redress — despite being accepted to the widened scheme.

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