Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice fears that the “game could be up” for another 230 post offices.
Earlier this year, a total of 390 post offices were offered exit packages by An Post – which led to 160 postmasters and postmistresses opting to retire. However, Deputy Fitzmaurice is hugely concerned that a further 230 outlets are “still on the chopping block” and that it is only a matter of time before some of these are also closed once their existing contracts expire.
Having received a response from An Post regarding a number of his concerns, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “Let’s be clear here; if a postmaster or postmistress wishes to retire or passes away, the future of that post office is not guaranteed. An Post has confirmed that it will deal with each situation on a case by case basis”.
While An Post maintains that it will take the presence of a customer base, transaction levels and the proximity to other outlets into account when making a decision, this is still a huge blow for rural parts of Ireland, Deputy Fitzmaurice said.
An Post has continuously stated its commitment to ‘endeavour to ensure’ that 95% of the population in rural areas will be within 15km of at least one post office and that ‘settlements with over 500 people’ will have a post office.
Deputy Fitzmaurice: “Given the current standard of public transport services in rural Ireland, how can we expect people with no form of personal transport to travel 15km?”
Continuing, the independent TD added: “Now the facts are out. It is clear for everyone to see that this Government is failing rural Ireland, while Fianna Fáil sits on its hands and does nothing.
“If this trend is allowed to continue, people in rural Ireland will be left without a Garda Station, a post office or even a local pub. Those living in rural parts of Ireland have been forgotten about by this Government. Will this Government not be happy unless the majority of rural Ireland is covered in forestry?”