I along with my colleagues in the Regional Group published our third Dáil motion calling on the Government to intervene and support the post office network before it collapses.
Regional Group Members are awaiting confirmation from Minister Eamon Ryan in relation to the proposed State subvention of between €10,000 and €12,000 for more than 900 post offices across the Country. We are firmly of the view that this funding needs to be used to ensure that all State services, available online can be accessed by those not technically literate through their local post office. This will save the State money, improve efficiency and provide a more timely service to those who cannot access or use the online platforms.
The Regional Group has continuously pointed out that An Post requires support in the roll-out of new services, and the delivery of its strategic plan to ensure its long-term financial viability.
The Regional Group highlight that the strategy adopted by this Government is to allow Post offices to close before intervening and to support only the most viable, thereby ignoring the fact that post offices are a necessity for those living in regional Ireland. There is a socio-economic benefit for our communities that cannot easily be measured. The community benefit of having this service available locally is about much more than the Post Office itself.
An Post is one of the last Government agents existing in our communities and the Government committed to a sustainable nationwide post office network as a key component of the economic and social infrastructure in both rural and urban areas.
“The post offices provide crucial public and financial services to communities especially to those in rural and isolated areas with the abandonment of communities by the commercial pillar banks. More than 500 of An Post’s 939 post offices nationwide are situated in locations without a mainstream bank presence, with Ulster Bank and KBC bank winding down operations this number is expected to increase”.
Government needs to recognise and connect these factors with further delay. The challenges facing village and town economies, and their Post Offices, will need an innovative response today from Government. Establishing alternative funding options to maintain a sustainable future for the post office network and for postmasters is now essential to prevent their hundreds of closures over the next 12 months.