Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Clare Rita McInerney says the government has serious questions to answer over the closure of more than 150 post offices across the country following the announcement that the State owned postal provider made a profit of €41m last year.

It had been estimated that it would cost a total of €8m to keep post offices in rural areas open.

“Fine Gael’s anti-rural policies has left communities in parts of Clare and other counties reeling. People living in smaller towns and villages are extremely angry and frustrated in the aftermath of the loss of essential services. Over the past eight years, they have experienced falling garda numbers, closing Garda stations, reductions in teacher numbers in small schools and closed post offices”, said McInerney.

“Here in Clare, six of our post offices were singled out for closure – in Cooraclare, Craggagh, Cree, Doonbeg, Kilfenora and Lissycasey. I accept in some instances the postmaster or postmistress wanted to retire, but this did not have to lead to the removal of the service from the local area. Some local people were only too willing to incorporate the post office service into their existing shop/business premises but were not afforded the opportunity as the blanket closures went ahead.

“Reports now show that An Post recorded a profit of €41m in the last year. At what cost to local communities? Yet another dager in the hearts of rural communities already reeling from the failure to recoignise the need to support our side of the country when it comes to job creation and sustainability. A mere €8m of those profits would have kept all these post offices open. However, short-sightedness has resulted in essential services being removed from their communities.

“Post Offices play an integral part in the very heart of local communities and as a matter of urgency we need introduce a public service obligation to ensure the future of the network in rural Ireland”, concluded McInerney.