Sinn Fein area representative for the Fermoy/Mitchelstown area Helen White, says it is extremely worrying to see 159 more post offices now facing closure and states the closures must be resited.
“Shanballymore closed in the past number of weeks, Ballynoe and Kilbehenny to follow. This will have a detrimental effect on our rural communities, our elderly and disabled, not to mention the economic impact of the closure on other small businesses in the vicinity.
Helen points out that for those living in rural areas, the closure of vital services such as post offices and Garda stations, has worsened their experience of austerity.
She further makes the point that pension day traditionally, is very much a social occasion for older people.
“Where they can get their local shopping, attend their hairdressers, run errands or have a cuppa and chat with locals. These closures will have a particularly devastating impact on them,” she says.
“People will suffer the consequences of travelling to another town, particularly if they don’t have a source of transportation. We need to protect our rural villages as they will become ghost villages. While I understand this is a voluntary retirement scheme, the Government has shown no interest in exploring alternatives to revitalise the post office network. Post offices have the potential to become community hubs, providing government and local services.
“Local post office branches are a vital element in the sustainability of many towns, villages and communities but our rural post office network has been under attack. I support the campaign to retain local postal services across Ireland. There has been a closure of 721 post offices between 2000 and 2010 and this has to stop as other closures could follow.”
Helen says it is Government policy that An Post should continue as a high quality postal service and remain a strong, viable, customer-focused company within our communities.
“Fine Gael policy, however seems to have failed and the deafening silence from our elected representatives on the recent closures facing our communities is worrying. Sadly, successive governments have decided our Post Office network is not worth fighting for.”