700 Post Offices deemed Unsustainable by An Post ‘a wakeup call for Government Rural Policy’ – Tóibín
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Affairs, Peadar Tóibín TD has said that the future of An Post as currently constituted is under significant threat. It can only be safeguarded by the government if the will to do so exists.
Deputy Tóibín, who is Cathaoirleach of the Committee of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, stressed the need for the government to enable the current post office network to expand their range of services in order to ensure their viability going forward.
An Teachta Tóibín said:
“Our post office network is an invaluable resource and the largest retail network in the country with 1,150 offices employing 3,700 people. The network reaches every corner of the country, with over 99% of addresses in the state within 10 km of a post office.
“Apart from the provision of vital services, An Post offers valuable one-to-one contact with people. In an era of increasing rural isolation and increasingly fractured communities, contact of this nature is incredibly important. The Post Office network plays a significant economic and social role within Irish society.
“I was dismayed to hear Mr John Daly, Director of Retail Operations from An Post say that 700 Post Offices in the state are not sustainable. Economic viability is key but so too is social responsibility. The truth is if there are no Post Offices open in many of these communities they no longer remain sustainable as communities.
“It is possible to have a post office network in Ireland that is both profitable and fulfilling its role as community hub. Indeed, the Postmaster Union outlined their vision of a post office network that can provide state services, increased financial services among other functions. This includes Department of social protection, Drivers Licences and motor tax payments, for example.
“The Kerr report, published in January presented a number of recommendations to allow post offices to thrive by enabling their diversification into financial services, social enterprise and public service delivery. As yet it seems that there has been no substantive action yet taken on this report.
“While I’m looking forward to the publication of the Post Office Hub Working Group report which seeks to examine how post offices can act as community hubs, I’m increasingly concerned at the very slow pace in which the government might actually implement any findings therein.
“Post offices have a key role in rural renewal and community cohesion. I’m calling on the government to take appropriate action now to ensure that no further damage is done to the network.”