Laois TD Brain Stanley has hit out and said that access to the postal network, ‘should not be a geographical lottery’.
Responding to the announcement by An Post that 161 Post Offices will be closed as part of a voluntary retirement scheme, the Sinn Féin TD and Communications spokesperson has said that closures, “must not inflict a loss of services and greater isolation on rural communities.”
Post Offices listed for immediate closure in Laois/Offaly are; Ballinakill, Walsh Island, and Mount Lucas. The Sinn Féin Deputy said, “This will weaken the fabric of villages and small towns when the local post office is removed.”
“The voluntary retirement scheme was backed by the membership of the Irish Postmasters’ Union, but this does not absolve An Post of the responsibility to ensure that access to the post office network is a geographical lottery.
“Reform of our post offices has been neglected for a number of years and both An Post and the Government need to take positive action. The post office network needs reform,” said Deputy Stanley.
Economic and social importance in the community
Stanley stated the inportance of post offices in rural communities: “Any rural dweller will testify to the economic and social importance of a post office in the community. Garda stations, banks, and other services are gone, so keeping the post office network intact is more important than ever, especially in isolated communities.
“Minister for Communications Denis Naughton needs to decide whether rural Ireland matters and he needs to take a hands on approach. There has been a series of reports on the future of our post offices over recent years and there are models in other States where a viable and vibrant post office network is in place.”
The Sinn Féin TD states that his party have put forward alternatives to post office closures.
“Sinn Féin and others have put forward alternatives. National and local government services can easily be provided through the post office network, such as providing motor tax renewal, small scale banking, and creating digital hubs in the absence the ever slow roll out of the National Broadband Plan.
“Rural Ireland cannot take any more cuts to services, of which postal services are a vital part.”