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Rural Ireland suffers another blow by potential post office loss – Tóibín

7 March, 2017

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Regional Development and Rural Affairs Peadar Tóibín TD has reacted to news of a possible reported loss of 80 post offices, mostly based in rural Ireland. This follows fast on the heels of a comment by Management of An Post at a meeting of his Committee that up to 500 post offices throughout the state are unsustainable. Deputy Tóibín has said the government has had a huge role in allowing many post offices to deteriorate due to foot dragging and failure to innovate.

Deputy Tóibín, who is chairperson of the Committee of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, said:

“Our post office network is a vital piece of infrastructure throughout Ireland, particularly in those rural areas which are most isolated. It offers a practical and social service to our regions, often acting as a community hub.

“Changes in technology have meant that our post offices have experienced losses with the falling demand for sending letters, for example. However, these changes have presented opportunities for our post offices innovate and re-energise and better cater for Irish citizens.

“However, saving the integrity of our post offices and the fabric of rural Ireland has never been a priority for Fine Gael, who allowed the closure of 198 post offices during their last stint in Government.

“Over two years ago, the Post Office Network Business Development Group was established by the Government. Recommendations were published last year, which outlined how facilitate post offices to thrive by enabling their diversification into financial services, social enterprise and public service delivery. These recommendations, so desperately needed, have so far has been ignored.

“We are still awaiting Minister Michael Ring's Post Office Hub Working Group report which was due to published last year. This would have focussed on how Post Offices could act as hubs, around which local social and economic activity would revolve.

“This is a classic example of Fine Gael fudging and dodging. When Opposition ask pertinent questions, we are directed to reports that are not yet published, or that have been published but with absolutely no political will to enact the recommendations therein. Fine Gael stand idly by until such a time as our vital services are run to the ground.

“The simple fact is the Government is not sweating our assets. Post offices could become the central hub for all state and banking services in our rural towns and villages. I am calling on the Government to look at the many options and alternatives that have been outlined which can make our post offices network thrive and remain vital in the many communities they serve across the country.” 

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