Brian Stanley, Sinn Féin TD for Laois Offaly, has called for a national plan to protect rural post offices.
Deputy Stanley was speaking during a debate in the Dáil on Wednesday evening on the future of the portal services.
Such a plan should include the retention of social welfare payments, and the expansion of the services provided to include motor tax renewal, other state payments, and banking.
Deputy Stanley said:
“Among the post offices closed over recent years have been six in my own county at Ballyroan, Castletown, Timahoe, The Heath, Ballaghmore and Emo. These closures have removed a vital local service and struck at the heart of those communities.
“Apart from the practical issues involved in people having to go elsewhere to conduct their business, the closures are felt as another step in the running down of the villages and communities concerned.
“I note that Fianna Fáil have belatedly been converted to the notion that the post office system needs to be protected and enhanced. Yesterday they published a document which draws heavily both on the technical group motion, and other proposals for the post offices.
“It must be noted that while Sinn Féin and members of the technical groups have consistently defended the post offices, the last Fianna Fáil government closed almost 200 post offices, as well as undermining them in other ways.
“The Fianna Fáil document refers to the 211 closures in total between 2006 and 2012, but is too modest to claim responsibility for the vast bulk of those closures. If there were Oscars for hard necks, there would only be one contender here.”