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Fears for the future of West Cork's post offices

September 14th, 2017 9:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Michael Collins TD.

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WEST Cork postmasters have met with the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, to ask him to safeguard the future of rural post offices.

The recent meeting was convened by Michael Collins TD who said the postmasters are worried about the outcome of An Post review, which is due to be published in October.

Deputy Collins impressed upon Minister Naughten that moves to close post offices within a 10-15km radius would have a direct impact on places like Ballineen and Enniskeane, as well as Ballydehob and Schull.

‘We want to keep all our rural post offices open, but they are facing a difficult future because fewer and fewer pensioners are collecting their payments from their post office,’ said Deputy Collins.

If the situation were to develop that the Government no longer were to pay post offices to administer social welfare payments, then many sub-offices would not be able to stay in business, according to the West Cork TD.

Despite reassurances from Denis Naughten that it is not An Post’s intention to force anyone to close, Deputy Collins insisted: ‘The move towards making payments through banks would force closures.’

However, there was some discussion at the meeting about how rural post offices could possibly develop an online hub to serve people who don’t normally use the internet.

Meanwhile a limerick-based postmaster said this week that between 500 and 700 post officers were ‘in immediate danger of closure’ although the recent launch of An Post’s new current account was a positive mood, Tom O’Callaghan said.

And he added that An Post should look at the New Zealand model, which has resulted in the Kiwi Post Bank now commanding over 12% of the over banking market in a country with a similar population to Ireland’s.

The idea to follow the Kiwi model was put before the Dáil by a group of TDs, including Deputy Collins, Mr O’Callaghan said.

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