Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Timmy Dooley has today published his party’s Private Members Motion which calls on the Government to retain post office services in 159 communities where their respective postmasters or postmistresses have opted to retire.

The Government and An Post are using the retirement of these postmasters and postmistresses as a smokescreen and cover to close rural post offices in these 159 communities.

“These closures as well as harming local businesses will have a disproportionate impact on elderly and vulnerable citizens who rely heavily on their local post office.

“We are hearing reports that many elderly people will have to travel upwards of 25km, to and from, their next nearest post office, to collect their pension or pay their bills.

“Pensioners are not natural online users and while many are making the switch to digital, a high number are completely unable to do their business online, and therefore the removal of their local post office will be an intolerable burden on them and also their families.

“It must be remembered that these 159 communities are by their very nature located in some of the most isolated parts of the country with little to no regular public transport options available. How can we ask pensioners to spend €15 to €20 on taxis just to collect their weekly pension of €230 per week?

“Our motion is clear that the Government must initiate a Public Service Obligation (PSO) payment to ensure that these post offices remain open. The contracts to run these post offices must also be advertised to allow other interested parties get involved in delivering these vital public services.

“Post offices cannot be viewed as simple accounting units with a focus solely on profit and loss. They are an immeasurable part of community life across Ireland, but especially in rural Ireland, and the Government must listen and must intervene,” concluded Dooley.