Fianna Fáil TD Bobby Aylward has called for Government intervention to prevent the closure of post offices in rural communities.
Deputy Aylward made the comments after it was reported that the post offices in both Mullinavat and Glenmore are to close in the coming weeks. 110 post offices across the country are set to shut their doors for good, with Rathoe in Carlow also reportedly under threat.
Deputy Aylward said, “The closure of the post offices in Mullinavat and Glenmore represents a direct attack on these communities and on rural Ireland. It marks the continuation of the Government policy to withdraw vital services from rural Ireland. We have already seen Garda station closures, the shutting down of small schools and the withdrawal of banking services. The Government is effectively telling people that the State no longer sees rural Ireland as a viable place to live and work.
“Postmasters are perfectly entitled to avail of redundancy packages and must be thanked for their years of dedicated service to their respective communities but the Government needs to be proactive in securing the continuation of postal services. The Government cannot be allowed to use those redundancies as a smokescreen to dismantle the post office network. Serious efforts must be made to encourage people to continue offering postal services in rural Ireland.
“Fianna Fáil believes that the Department should initiate a Public Service Obligation (PSO) to keep post offices open and to maintain the post office network around the country. Decisions should not be made solely on the basis of profit margins. Post offices play an invaluable role in ensuring communities have access to State services. The Government needs to recognise this and play their part in helping secure the post office network.
“The Government claims it has no operational responsibility for An Post but as far as Fianna Fáil is concerned the book stops with the Minister. If the Minister had the foresight to implement the recommendations contained within the Kerr Report, when it was furnished in 2016, regarding the need of additional services to be made available through Post Offices, the likes of Mullinavat and Glenmore would have had the chance to increase their footfall and maximise their commercial viability. We could have saved many of the rural Post Offices now under threat of closure if immediate action was taken at Ministerial level.”