THE Rural Independent Group has brought a motion forward to Dáil Eireann in a bid to ‘ensure the future of the post office network, and to get the Government to act on its commitment to save post offices as outlined in the Programme for Government’.
The group, which includes Independent TD Michael Collins, has called on the Government to implement a new community banking service operated by An Post to be made available in all post offices throughout the country.
They have asked the Government to make a one-off investment to modernise the post office network, and to consider providing services such as health, transport and agriculture through the post office – as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for governement services. They have also asked that a five-year ‘holding’ plan be put in place while these changes are being implemented.
‘For the past 300 years, the Post Office network has been an integral element of Irish society,’ said Deputy Collins. ‘It has been at the forefront of economic and social activity in towns and villages across the country. With over 1,150 post offices nationwide, An Post is a huge resource which needs to be further utilised.’
The West Cork deputy said that the closure of the rural post office almost certainly means the closure of the local shop as well, with huge implications for the survival of that community. ‘I am totally opposed to mobile post offices and also totally opposed to having only one post office every 15km,’ he said, adding that it was ‘totally unacceptable and unsuitable and in particular does not serve people in rural Ireland where there is no public transport service’.
Deputy Collins added that the present Government needs to look at adapting the post office network to meet the changing needs of modern Ireland. ‘It would be an ideal solution for delivery of motor tax and driving licences, and would alleviate the pressure on the overcrowded city offices. It would also save the government €63m in five years if post offices were to be used to deliver this service,’ he said.
‘There are enormous opportunities for using our post offices as the point of contact for more government services. The decision to develop post offices as government front offices will have a spin-off effect, enhancing the viability of rural communities,’ the Goleen deputy concluded.
Cork North West TD, Aindrias Moynihan, has claimed the post office network is at risk of collapsing unless the government commits to securing its future.
He said that reports suggest that up to 66% of Irish post offices are under threat.‘The Government are failing the post office network, and the communities that rely on them, and what’s worse, they don’t seem one bit worried about it,’ he said.