Dáil Éireann - Volume 663 - 15 October, 2008

Written Answers. - Departmental Services.

[880] Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the interpretation facilities available in her Department for dealing with non-Irish national claimants; if interpretation facilities are available to local social welfare offices by phone or otherwise when language problems give rise to difficulties in dealing with claims; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35090/08]

  Deputy Mary Hanafin: The Department has a range of interpretation facilities available for non-English speaking customers. On-site interpreters are made available on request for medical reviews, appeal hearings or in any situation where there are particular difficulties communicating with an individual.

Each social welfare local office has a facility in place whereby an interpretation service is provided using a three way phone system. The Department also uses a mobile phone interpretation service which allows staff, such as Social Welfare Inspectors who make home visits, communicate effectively with the customer.

Officials of the Department and in particular front line staff in local offices make every effort to assist people who have language difficulties or if they need help in completing claim forms. The interpretation services currently provided by this Department are very effective and meet our requirements.