Councillors unimpressed as An Post declines invitation to meeting

A special meeting of Roscommon County Council – held to discuss the fallout from An Post’s controversial plans for the future of its services in Roscommon Town – was told that the company had declined an invitation to attend because the proceedings had a public dimension to them, as opposed to being held ‘in camera’ (privately).

Cllr John Keogh, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, outlined how An Post had initially accepted an invitation to attend, before conducting a U-turn.

The special Council meeting, held in Council HQ in Roscommon Town last Thursday evening, was convened following an angry public reaction to the news that the iconic Roscommon Post Office building (at the Square) is facing closure over the coming weeks. An Post has confirmed that it will switch its service in Roscommon Town to a contractor-led model, i.e. appointing a new postmaster after a tendering process, with the service then moving to a new location. The Roscommon Post Office will then be sold by An Post.

Thursday’s meeting was attended by Roscommon county councillors, members of the Council executive, and by three of the five Oireachtas members in Roscommon-Galway (Deputies Michael Fitzmaurice and Claire Kerrane, and Senator Eugene Murphy).

When Cllr Paschal Fitzmaurice raised the absence of any An Post representative, Cllr Keogh (Cathaoirleach) outlined details of a series of email exchanges over the previous day or so.

Cllr Keogh had invited Ms Debbie Byrne and Mr Angus Laverty of An Post to attend the meeting. Initially, Mr Laverty (Public Affairs Manager with An Post) had indicated that they were unable to attend as it would be inappropriate to do so while the company is involved in the process of engaging with An Post staff. Subsequently, Mr Laverty indicated that An Post would attend the meeting online, on the understanding that it was being held ‘in camera’. When Cllr Keogh responded that the meeting was being held in an open forum (with the media present, and members of the public welcome to attend in the public gallery) Mr Laverty confirmed that An Post would not be present. Cllr Keogh invited him to reconsider, but there had been no further response as of Thursday evening.

Cllr Keogh said that he was “most disappointed” with the An Post response which he felt “shows contempt for the elected members of Roscommon County Council”.

Senator Eugene Murphy said that he was “really surprised and annoyed” by the An Post U-turn (in relation to the invitation to attend the meeting).