Fianna Fáil Communications Spokesperson Timmy Dooley TD has said that the Government should not and must not allow the closure of up to 150 post offices in rural Ireland.

Deputy Dooley was commenting after an unverified list was put into the public domain which showed many post offices were at risk of closure due to their post master or mistress deciding to take voluntary redundancy.

“Let me be clear. Post masters and mistresses who opt to take the redundancy package are absolutely entitled to do so. They have given years of fantastic service to their local communities.

“However An Post and the Government cannot be allowed to use these redundancies as a smokescreen to close the post offices.

“This would constitute a direct attack on these communities and on rural Ireland.

“Taking away the State harp from over the door signals the State’s withdrawal from the village and effectively tells people that they State no longer sees that village as a viable place to live and work. There is a domino effect when it comes to the removal of State services from villages and rural towns.

“Fundamentally, this is the Government admitting publicly that living in these communities will not be supported by the State.

“Fianna Fáil believes that the Department should initiate a Public Service Obligation (PSO) to keep these at risk post offices open and to maintain the post office network at current levels.

“Minister Naughten cannot allow these decisions to be made solely on the basis of profit margins. Rural post offices deliver a service that cannot be measured in profit and loss.

“Fine Gael must come clean and explain why they are allowing this to happen. In particular they need to explain to the 150 rural communities why they are being targeted on this occasion,” concluded Dooley.