Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that rural post offices must be protected and their services enhanced. Mr Carthy also indicated that he would be contacting the government and other members of the European Parliament to secure support to minimise the impact of the Postal Services Directive.
The Midlands Northwest representative was speaking after he attended a packed public meeting in Cappataggle, County Galway last night (Monday) where the community is campaigning for the retention of their local postal services. He was joined by local Councillor Dermot Connelly.
“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 in places like Cappataggle provides a snapshot of what hundreds of communities the length and breadth of this state are also going through. Residents are listening to political representatives claiming that they support local postal services. But the fact is that Irish government representatives and 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 the threat to the post office network.
“The EU Postal Services Directive which Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Marian Harkin supported, forces the state to open up postal services to competition. This is the central issue that is likely to have serious long term detrimental consequences, particularly for the postal network in areas with a low population density. I intend to seek support from across the political spectrum to attempt to revoke, or at lease minimise, this directive.
“The post office is central to local communities and it is necessary to ensure that the service is 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 in Cappataggle 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.
“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.”