– Communities with less than 500 people at risk of losing local post office-
Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Niamh Smyth has said that while the financial stabilisation in An Post’s position is welcome, she is concerned about the future of up to 200 post offices in less populated communities.
Deputy Smyth was commenting after an agreement was reached between the Irish Postmasters Union and An Post on a new investment package, valued at €50 million that will see 50 new post offices opening across the country.
“The decision to support an increase in the cost of stamps by Fianna Fáil has led to an improvement in the financial position of An Post. This is most welcome and will, for many post offices, provide stability.
“However, there is a glaring and gaping hole in the agreement, and that’s the failure to provide support for up to 200 post offices in sparsely populated communities.
“While there will be no compulsory closures, it’s clear that these post offices will be left to wither on the vine and die as they will not have sufficient transactions to make them look viable to senior management.
“This would be a body blow for rural communities who are already seeing reductions in a wide range of essential services. It’s not just post offices that will be affected. There are countless other businesses and services in rural Ireland that rely heavily on a local post office to keep going.
“Those citizens living in these communities are tax payers in the same way of those living in urban areas. They deserve, and have a right to, the same level of services from the State.
“We need to stop seeing post offices as simply profit centres but as service hubs. Post offices are the life blood of rural communities. For many, the harp over the door of their post office is the only visible indication of government services in their community.
“Fianna Fáil is clear that where there are post offices that are not financially viable but provide important and essential services to communities, there must be a government intervention in the form of a public service obligation to ensure that they remain open to the public,” concluded Smyth.