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Government has its head in the sand - Ó Caoláin

7 December, 2004

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghn Ó Caoláin has called for direct Government intervention to address the crisis in An Post on the eve of a State-wide stoppage by postal workers. Deputy Ó Caoláin called on the Taoiseach to intervene in the Dáil this afternoon but said Bertie Ahern's response showed the Government "had its head in the sand as a vital State service is downgraded". Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The postal service is one of the key and essential services provided by the State and owned and paid for by the people. It is an essential element of the social and economic infrastructure and any undermining of it must have very serious consequences. The Minister for Communications Noel Dempsey should take his head out of the sand on this issue. He is the Minister responsible.

"On the eve of a day of industrial action by thousands of postal workers the Minister and the Government have hardly uttered a word about this State-wide crisis in the postal service. There has been a complete breakdown between workers and management. There are major questions over the way the management have managed and presented the finances of An Post, which are public finances. Management has breached a string of national agreements with the trade unions.

"We are witnessing the destruction of the postal service. This is a national asset. A service that has been available to people throughout the State should not be downgraded with shorter opening hours, ending of delivery to houses in rural areas, the shutdown of SDS with the loss of hundreds of jobs and the negative consequences for business, especially local small businesses outside Dublin.

"There are huge discrepancies in the financial figures presented by An Post management. In July 2003 An Post forecast a profit of €1 million for that year but 3 months later a new CEO said there would be a loss of €46 million. This has never been properly explained and the Communications Workers Union has also commissioned its own audit of SDS that has raised major questions. It seems the Taoiseach and the Minister are prepared to stand over this and over the loss of services, especially in rural areas with the isolated and the elderly losing yet another link with the community and another facility that they have spent their working lives paying for in tax. It seems the Taoiseach wants to see the most profitable services gobbled up by private operators while the social service provided by An Post is destroyed."ENDS

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