THERE are now four communities in West Cork out of which ‘the heart has been taken’ as a result of post office closures, namely Allihies, Ballineen, Desertserges and Drinagh, Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (FF) told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
There is also a village in the eastern part of the constituency whose post office building is in another constituency, but people in Cork South West are obviously affected, she said.
There are, therefore, five such communities and there are 12 in total in Cork.
‘I had the unique honour of working in the post office many moons ago,’ she said. ‘To say it was an education in life would be putting it mildly. It has always stood to me, and I have very happy memories from that time. I have seen the importance of the post office to a community first-hand, both to the economy of the community and to its social well-being. I would not for one minute sit here and ask the Minister to keep open post offices that are not viable because of their social aspect. However the post office network is of huge importance.’
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said that when she was working in the post office, the staff were told that they might be the only person that an older person would meet in a week, so it was vital to be nice to them. ‘Even this contact could stop. People will stay at home, getting their pensions paid into the bank. They may never leave their houses. I am not trying to be dramatic, but it can come down to that.’
Deputy Michael Collins said the chief executive of An Post had told the Committee that people would not be left without a post office within 7km. ‘Allihies Post Office is 10.9 km from Eyeries Post Office,’ he said. ‘Obviously, in the rural part of Allihies, it could be 16km or 17km. Mr McRedmond is going from post office to post office, which is a nice way to get An Post off the hook. That is 10.9 km. Drinagh post office is 9.5km from Drimoleague, but Drinagh is being closed, as is the plan. Allihies is to go also.’