Minister Naughten must change definition of ‘settlement’ for post office review – Kenny
Following the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications meeting on Monday, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Affairs Martin Kenny TD has called on Minister Denis Naughten to alter the definition of a “settlement” for the purposes of the review of post office services. At present, the 2016 census definition is being used, which would rule out 80% of rural towns and villages.
Deputy Kenny said:
“The Minister has already confused matters by stating in the Dáil that a post office which was co-located with another business, like a local shop or petrol station, would be favourably reviewed. This was contradicted at the Joint Oireachtas Committee.
“There was a belief among rural communities that ‘settlements’ of over 500 people would be reviewed favourably in terms of post office retention, but now there is concern about the definition of a settlement being employed.
“There are criteria such as number of houses and what distance they are apart and this would, in reality, exclude decent-sized towns such as Kileshandra, in Cavan or Gorteen in Sligo, in my own area and many more like them around the country.
“The reality seems to be that An Post, aided and abetted by government and Fianna Fáil, is intent on closing down most of the post office network around the state.
“They are saying that they are using numbers and distances as criteria, but they are also closing offices when the post mistress/master retires with no regard for their ‘viability’ criteria at all.
“The Minister needs to intervene now and instruct An Post to change that definition of a settlement which would exclude so many towns and villages and leave 80% of rural areas without a post office.”