FÁS is closing its only employment office on the northside of Cork city — one of the worst unemployment blackspots in the country.
The Employment Services Office on Shandon Street will shut next Thursday with its staff moving to Cornmarket Street.
The office provides a range of services including helping jobseekers to prepare CVs, advertising available positions, contacting employers and giving advice on training.
The closure has been described as another blow for the northside already left reeling by the departure of two banks, the Employment Resource Centre on North Main Street and the closure of community welfare clinics in Blackpool, Churchfield and Farranree.
The remaining FÁS Employment Services Offices in Cork are located at Cornmarket Street, Bishopstown, Bantry and Mallow.
In January, employment services at FÁS were transferred to the Department of Social Protection.
Officials from the department confirmed the closure of the Shandon Street office in a letter to public representatives. Defending the move, they said the Cornmarket Street office was located less than 500 metres from Shandon Street and would offer an enhanced service following the re-allocation of staff.
However, city councillors in the area hit out at the planned closure, saying services in the northside of the city were being continually downgraded or removed altogether.
Fianna Fáil city councillor Kenneth O’Flynn said the four TDs representing the northside needed to put pressure on the department to reverse the decision.
“This is another vital service the northside will be left without and an employment office is arguably the most important,” he said.
“People now more than ever need help in securing work or accessing training,” he added.
According to the last census, the northside of the city has a 15% unemployment rate.
Sinn Féin’s Cllr Thomas Gould said the planned closure of the Shandon Street office was another “attack” on the northside.
“At a time when there are more than 26,000 people are unemployed in the Cork metropolitan area, these cutbacks will directly affect services for people who are looking for jobs, training and advice,” he said.