Government must protect rural post offices – Nolan
Sinn Féin TD for Offaly/North Tipperary Carol Nolan today raised the issue of rural post offices with the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources during priority questions to the Minister.
Speaking in the chamber, Deputy Nolan said:
“The previous Government oversaw the closure of dozens of Post offices around Ireland and indeed encouraged business away from Post offices by shifting payments of Social welfare payments from Post offices to banks.
“At a time when all of rural Ireland is struggling, we should be supporting the delivery of services from Post offices rather than taking the legs out from underneath them. There is the possibility of extending the services available at village post offices
“Recognising the challenges facing the post office network we need to modernise and transform the role of post office so that they become a hub for accessing public services and social protections within in the community.
“As well as ensuring social protection payments continue to be processed through the post office other sources of revenue could be identified for the post office network such as government payments and banking.
“An Post can be part of a joined up approach to finance to ensure SMEs are supported and local economies are developed.
“The Kerr report which was published in January of this year included recommendations that isolated post offices across the state should receive up to €20,000 a year in government subsidies to stay alive.
“While we recognise that this is only a short term solution, it is hoped that this proposal would also encourage branches to increase the number of services they provide and include giving post offices the ability to sell insurance, process motor tax, and to link up with credit unions. Some of these proposals would require a serious change in government approach to both rural Ireland and the post office network.”