Waterford TD Mary Butler has said the imminent closure of two more Post Offices in the county is a “direct assault on the communities of Ballinamult and Kilmeaden.”
The Fianna Fail TD was commenting as communities up and down the country learned that that An Post had offered voluntary redundancy to their post masters or mistresses. An Post will now examine the submissions they received from over 100 Post Offices as part of the scheme.
“Let me be absolutely crystal clear. Post masters and post mistresses are entitled to take voluntary redundancy. They have given years of dedicated service to their local communities, and should be able to retire with a fair financial package," Butler said.
“However, this cannot be used as a backdoor way to post office closures. An Post and the Government have been actively seeking to reduce the number of post offices in rural Ireland for years, and have sought to use the redundancy scheme as a smokescreen to bring about closures," she fumed.
“Taking away the State harp from over the door signals the State’s withdrawal from the village and effectively tells people that they State no longer sees that village as a viable place to live and work. There is a domino effect when it comes to the removal of State services from villages and rural towns."
“Post offices cannot be viewed in the same way as other commercial enterprises. Viewing their viability through the prism of simple profit and loss equations ignores the real impact of post offices in rural communities," Deputy Butler added.
“I am very concerned about how these changes will affect older people in particular. They are not as digitally literate as younger generations are and they, as a result, rely on the local post office to go about their daily business."
“Fianna Fáil has an alternative view of how post offices should be supported. We believe that the Department should initiate a Public Service Obligation (PSO) to keep these at risk post offices open and to maintain the post office network at current levels."
“Fine Gael and Independent TDs supporting Fine Gael must come clean and explain why they are allowing this to happen. In particular they need to explain to these two vibrant communities why they are being targeted on this occasion,” concluded Butler.
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