“Unless An Post and the Government change tack, vast swathes of the country including many communities in rural Cork will be left without post offices,” said Cork North West TD, Aindrias Moynihan.

“It’s now abundantly clear from parliamentary responses I have received from the Minister for Communications that the Government is unwilling to block An Post’s proposals to close up to 300 post offices in rural Ireland.

“Rural Ireland is being left to wither on the vine by Fine Gael and their independent friends.

“Many postmasters and postmistresses have been offered sweetheart delays to retire. These communities are not guaranteed that a replacement contract will be put out to tender.

“When a rural community sees its post office close, it can be a body blow to its sustainability and viability.

“There has been a stabilisation in An Post’s financial position arising from the increase in the cost of postage. However, this cannot be used as a mechanism to pay for the closure of post offices.

“Post offices cannot be simply seen as commercial ventures operating under normal profit and loss criteria. They are much more than that. They are service hubs and meeting points for rural, and sometimes, isolated communities.

“Post offices are the life blood of rural communities in West and North Cork. 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 (PSO) to ensure that they remain open to the public,” concluded Aindrias Moynihan.