The social welfare branch office in Castlepollard.

Castlepollard dole office closing from this evening

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has confirmed that the social welfare branch office in Castlepollard is closing from this evening.

In a statement issued to the Westmeath Examiner, the department said that the Castlepollard office is run by a branch manager who for extenuating circumstances is no longer able to continue.

“The continued provision of Social Welfare services to Castlepollard customers is a high priority and the department is working to put interim arrangements in place for the Castlepollard office.

“In the meantime customers can continue to access supports online and also in-person from the department's offices in Blackhall, Mullingar.

“The department will have a notice in the existing premises to advise customers of the closure and those affected can contact our Intreo Centre in Mullingar by phone (044) 9350921 or by emailing,” the department said.

Sinn Féin TD Johnny Guirke says that it is vital that the department puts the operation of the branch office out to tender immediately.

“For the last four weeks there have been rumours circulating that this DEASP office in Castlepollard would close.

“I sent a letter to Minister Humphreys asking that she make a commitment to keep this vital service in the local community open, she hasn’t responded to my letter, this was three weeks ago. We need to see a branch manager hired for Castlepollard.

“Once again, we see the government of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail kicking the people of rural Ireland further down the dirt track.

“I am very disappointed that this can happen again to the area, this will tear the heart out of rural towns and villages.

“They have allowed bank closures in the town of Castlepollard with both Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank leaving.

“This new closure is devastating to this community, as it serves a huge part of rural Ireland not serviced by public transport.

“The contract for the DEASP office was due to expire in February of 2023, but with the manager retiring the minister and her department are just washing their hands of this office.

“The staff at the DEASP office have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, making sure that the local people were helped in times of stress.

“The minister must understand that this closure doesn’t just affect Castlepollard, it hits surrounding areas of Oldcastle, Ballinacree, Clonkeefy, Mount Nugent, Fore, Moylagh, Delvin, Collinstown, Coole, Castletown, Finea, Lismacaffrey and Streete.

“I don’t accept this big push for online services in rural Ireland, as I know many people don’t have a good internet where they live.

“This government needs to come out to the people of Castlepollard and explain to them why they keep cutting services in their town and not just at election time,” Deputy Guirke said.