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Deadline for Rural Post Offices

5 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has urged to everyone with a stake in the future of rural communities to make sure they submitted objections to the closure of hundreds of rural post office before the Thursdays 8th March deadline.

Ms Gildernew said:

"I am appealing to everyone in the rural community worried about the impending closure of hundreds Post Offices, most of which will be in rural areas, to make their voice heard and to make submissions to the consultation before the deadline on Thursday 8th March.

"The proposals by the British Government could hit rural communities the hardest as they are most vulnerable from the criteria published for identifying closures, so highlighting the social importance of the Post Office network in our rural communities is vital.

"Sinn Féin has been expressing its concerns for some time that this was going to happen and that running down local postal services in this way will have severe consequences for rural communities.

"Deliberate Government policy and dogma is the actual reason that many local post offices are now under threat.. It is the inevitable result of government action in running down many of the services that where once the mainstay of the post offices, not the loss of the traditional customer base.

"When payment of benefits moved from payment books to electronic accounts, post offices lost out dramatically because government encouraged recipients to have their benefits paid into bank accounts. The loss of NIE power cards, TV license saving stamps and other pre-payment cards to convenience stores was another blow.

"Government's consultation should be based on evidence and recognition of customer needs in the rural communities - local consultation on individual changes' because one size does not fit all. There must be a recognition of local needs.

"My advice is act now and save the rural Post Office." ENDS

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