Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has called for the social welfare contract to be kept in the post office network in order to protect local post offices.
Speaking on the issue, Deputy Colreavy said:
“It is clear that the social welfare contract is vital for the survival of the post office network.
“If the social welfare contract is lost from post offices then it could lead to over 550 post office closures, as highlighted in a report by Grant Thornton into the future of the post office network.
“Even if the social welfare contract is kept at a reduced rate then there will still be well over 400 post offices at risk of closure.
“To maintain the post office network, the full retention of the social welfare contract in needed for its protection.
“As a member of the Committee on Transport and Communications, I was part of a group that drafted a report on the future of our post office network.
“This report lays out a number of recommendations as to how the post office network should be made viable.
“The committee recommends, given the social benefit of personal contact that exists between post office staff and their customers that other government services should be made available through the post office network.
“Considering the isolation that can exist in our society today, especially amongst older people and in rural Ireland, it seems appropriate that government services should be moved to a facility that people are comfortable with and have confidence in.
“These payments could include motor tax renewals, hospital charges, business rates, rents and other government payment services.
“There is an onus on the government to work with An Post to develop a post office network that is both efficient and of maximum use to the community which it serves.
“The Programme for Government, agreed by Fine Gael and Labour almost three years ago stated that ‘We will ensure that the network of post offices around the country is maintained and that communities have access to adequate postal services in their locality.’
“It is time for the government to live up to this commitment and to ensure that the post office network is maintained.”