Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Local Post Office closures to be discussed at Council

1 April, 2008

Sinn Féin is to raise the issue of the closure of local Post offices throughout the Newry and Mourne at the next full meeting of the Council on Monday night.

Slieve Gullion Councillor Colman Burns commenting on the recent announcement of imminent Post Office closures stated

"These plans threatening 96 Post Offices will potentially have a huge impact on 96 community's right across the north. In the Newry and Mourne area Post Offices in Silverbridge, Altnamachin, Burren, Jerrettspass, Attical and Drumgath have all been earmarked for closure.

"I am particularly concerned at the impact of these proposals on our rural communities were the rural Post Office is the cornerstone of the local community and provides a vital social hub not least for older people.

"In rural areas where the public transport infrastructure is weak the loss of this vital community resource will only compound rural isolation.

"The consultation will run from April till May 12 and now is the time for local communities to come together with their local elected representatives to fight for the retention of their Post Offices."

Fews area Councillor Jimmy Mc Creesh also commenting on the issue said,

"The closure of rural Post Offices will have a detrimental effect on the social and economic life of rural communities throughout the North. It is imperative that we do all in our power to present the case for the retention of a facility that for many people, particularly the elderly; the local Post Office is the main point of contact with the community.

"The Post Office staff can be the eye of the community in that they can often be the first to notice if some elderly person or someone living alone may be ill or distressed. Closing down a rural Post Office does not just remove a commercial facility it removes one of the most important community amenities. For this reason while it is important that we support staff of rural post offices we are also defending a significant focal point of rural communities.

His colleague Councillor Michael Ruane added:

"Sinn Féin has been expressing its concerns for some time that that running down of local postal services in any way would have severe consequences for many communities in both urban and rural areas and the effect that would have on many communities. The core customer base in many areas is made up of the most vulnerable people within communities and in particular older people.

"We need to see recognition of not just the commercial realities with the Post Offices, but also the fundamental social role of the Post Office in our communities. Deliberate British Government policy and dogma is the actual reason that many local offices are now considered unviable. It is the inevitable result of running down many of the services that were once the mainstay of the post offices, not the loss of the traditional customer base." ENDS

Note to Editors

Council Motion to be discussed on Monday night

That Newry and Mourne Council realising that Post offices and in particular rural Post Offices provide a vital service for sections of the community, and that current changes proposed will particularly impact on those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged, encourages all to ensure that their voices are heard during the consultation period.

Cllrs Colman Burns, Michael Ruane, Jimmy Mc Creesh

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