Time to act on developing Post Office services - Brian Stanley TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications Brian Stanley spoke in the Dáil this evening on the need to protect and enhance Irelands Post Office Network.
Teachta Stanley said;
“Rural post offices across Ireland must be protected and their services enhanced. As with Garda Stations and small rural schools, post offices have also come under attack from government measures and hundreds of post offices across rural Ireland have been threatened with closure.
“Many people living in rural Ireland have heard from their public representatives that they support local post office services. But liberalisation directives from the EU which are now threatening post office network were supported by many of these same representatives.
“Sinn Féin recognises the importance of our Post Office Network and act to protect this vital service.
“Keeping An Post in public ownership can ensure adequate funding to the Universal Service Obligation to avoid any potential threat to pay and conditions of staff, which have already been tested by full competition.
“There is broad agreement on the need to expand the services provided by An Post which is the main recommendation of the Kerr report.
“However, there has been a distinct lack of progress on implementing these recommendations.
“Last week John Daly, the Director of Retail Operations at An Post warned the Committee on Arts, Heritage and Rural Affairs that 700 Post Offices in the state are not sustainable. If the government does not act quickly then the closure of these branches will result in many of the communities in which they are based becoming unsustainable.
“Rural communities have taken about as much as they can manage. We cannot allow the vital services provided by post offices to be stripped from rural Ireland.
“There is a strong case to be made for the viability of the Post Office Network however, which does not require any significant monetary intervention from the State.
“The reinvigoration of the network of post offices can be achieved by extending the services which post offices provide to include motor tax renewals, business rates, rents and payment of all government and local government bills as well as by the retention of existing services such as social welfare payments.
“Banks have stepped back from rural Ireland with many branches closing and no sign of reopening. This has created a vacuum yet also an opportunity for our post offices to step in and fill the space.
“We have an opportunity to increase our use of the post office network. The technology exists to provide a network that is fully computerised and linked to rural Ireland. The post office network is already equipped to do more business.
“Whilst the network is being challenged by modern changes we still have the ability to preserve this service into the future.”