THE DEPARTMENT of Social Protection has said that it has ceased holding community welfare officer clinics in Carrigkerry village due to “very low” use.
Every Wednesday morning for the past decade a community welfare officer has held a half hour clinic at the Carrigkerry community centre. However last week the service was wound up, and locals were told that they would have to travel to clinics in Athea or Newcastle West if needed.
The move is another blow to the rural West Limerick village, which has recently suffered from a steady erosion of services. In May the only petrol station in Carrigkerry closed, leaving the village without a shop for the first time in over 150 years.
In response to a question from the Limerick Leader, the Department of Social Protection issued a statement confirming that the clinic had been “temporarily suspended”.
“The foot fall at the community welfare clinic in Carrigkerry is very low. Three people (or fewer) attend weekly. The rural transport serving the area takes residents into the nearby town of Newcastle West where a comprehensive welfare service is provided.
“On this basis, the community welfare service in Carrigkerry has been temporarily suspended. Social welfare and other business must be conducted in other nearby towns, in any event, as there is no shop or post office in Carrigkerry.”
The statement added that provisions have been put in place to transport locals who cannot avail of public transport due to illness or mobility.
Community welfare clinics will still take place as normal in Athea every Wednesday from 11am to midday, and in Newcastle West on Tuesdays.
In February a community information point was opened in the village, which provides information on everything from welfare entitlements to job vacancies. It is a pilot project by West Limerick Resources and the Carrigkerry-Old Mill Development Association.