Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth says the government must not use the retirement of Postmasters and Postmistresses to close rural Post Offices. An unverified list, which has now entered the public domain, suggests that up to 150 Post Offices in rural Ireland could close.
Deputy Smyth explained, “According to this list, there are three Post Offices in Monaghan, four in Cavan and seven in Meath in which the Postmaster or Postmistress is retiring and face the prospect of closure. These are people who have provided essential services to their local communities and are now retiring; however, the government has made no real effort to find a replacement or to protect these services.
“The latest An Post strategy commits to rural dwellers having a Post Office within 15km of their homes. However, for people who live in remote areas, or who don’t have their own transport, 15kms will be an unacceptable distance to travel to access basic services. While it may be argued that many of these services are available online, the fact of the matter is that much of rural Ireland is still waiting for a decent broadband connection and is therefore being hit on the double with the loss of Post Offices.
“The government, and Minister Naughten in particular, must to more to support access to services for people living in rural Ireland. The record to date is extremely poor.
“Ministers need to seriously examine the possibility of a public service payment for unviable post offices – as has been done in the UK. This could be used to keep post offices open and maintain the current levels of service.
“This government’s relentless attack on rural communities must be stopped and the importance of rural services and links must be recognised and supported. I am calling on Minister Naughten to outline what steps he intends taking to ensure that these Post Offices are protected from the risk of closure so that these communities can continue to avail of essential everyday services”.