Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward is calling for immediate action from the Tánaiste following news that Postmasters across the country have sent application forms back to the Department of Social Protection in protest against Government plans to make almost all social protection payments electronically by 2018.

Deputy Aylward commented, “There is huge frustration on the ground among post office staff who are essentially being asked to sign their own livelihood’s away by handing out forms that direct people to commercial banks as first preference of payment. I have spoken this morning with postmasters who feel that the Government is trying to shut them down by slowly but surely coercing and encouraging people to go to commercial banks over the post offices.

“Postmasters are simply asking for a level playing field but they continue to be undermined by Tánaiste Burton and the Government who are showing clear duplicity on the issue. There is no point in Minister Alex White establishing the Business Development Group to secure the future of the Post Office network when the Tánaiste continues to knock the foundations of it.

“The Postmasters have sought a meeting with the Tánaiste and requested that the application forms be removed from the Department’s website. Postmasters have told me that both of these requests have been effectively ignored to date. I am calling on the Tánaiste to facilitate this request as a matter of urgency.

“The Post Office network has a very efficient IT system and a proven track record in delivering Government services. It is time that their value as a cornerstone of rural towns and villages is recognised. Post Offices provide a social outlet at the heart of communities which helps combat the rural isolation of older people. The Government needs to support and grow our Post Office network for the benefit of communities across Carlow and Kilkenny,” concluded Deputy Aylward.