Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has said that rural post offices must be protected and their services enhanced.
Carthy was speaking in advance of a public meeting in Barnaderg, Co. Galway where the community is campaigning for the retention of their local postal services.
The Midlands Northwest candidate said:
“As with local Garda stations and small rural schools, rural post offices are another service that has come under sustained attack from this government. Hundreds of local post offices across rural Ireland are threatened with closure.
“What is going on here in Barnaderg provides a snapshot of what many hundreds of communities the length and breadth of this state are also going through. They have been given the runaround and despite full cooperation from the community they haven’t so much as received a response as to whether or not they will lose their local post office.
“The post office is central to local communities and must be protected. In many rural communities the post office is a focal point for social interaction and closures are regarded as increasing the level of isolation and loneliness.
“Sinn Féin supports the campaign to retain local postal services both here in Barnaderg and across the state. We also support the retention of social welfare payments in post offices, as part of a wide suite of financial services, to help ensure their viability.
“Irish MEPs, including those based in the Midlands Northwest constituency, failed to stand up for the interests of Irish people in the face of liberalisation directives from the EU which are now posing a serious threat to the post office network.
“The EU Postal Services Directive which Fianna Fáil, Jim Higgins, Mairead McGuinness and Marian Harkin supported, forces the state to open up postal services to competition. This is likely to have serious long term detrimental consequences, particularly for the postal network in areas with a low population density.
“Rural communities have taken about as much as they can manage. Vital services are being stripped day and daily from rural Ireland. We cannot allow the vital services provided by rural post offices to fall foul of this government’s austerity agenda.”