Calls for financial support to prevent post office closures

Poll: Vast majority in favour of financial support for post offices

Kevin Forde

Reporter:

Kevin Forde

Email:

kevin.forde@longfordleader.ie

Post Office

New research has found that the general public want to see more services retained/offered at their local post office. A RED C poll conducted on a sample size of 1,015 Irish people, found that 86% of people were in favour of government financial support to help keep their local post office open and 86% would also like to see more state services made available.

The poll also found that 91% feel post offices provide a valuable service to the local community, with support strongest among older people outside of Dublin.

However, this support was also witnessed in young generations, with in excess of 80% of young people wanting action to maintain their post office.

The findings of the RED C poll were welcomed by the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) who said it gives a clear message to the next government. Granard postmaster Padráig McNamara, who is a member of the IPU for 17 years and on the board of An Post, also welcomed the findings and reissued the call for financial support from the government.

“We are seen to be valuable in the community going by the poll,” he said. “On top of that, 86% feel we should get more services and not only should we get more services, but they are saying that we should get financial support if we need it as well.

“This (financial support) is something we have been pushing for long before the general election.”

Mr McNamara noted that DEASP (Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection) payments are the ‘anchor’ for the majority of post offices countrywide and criticised the government for taking away services from them.

“The DEASP is our anchor tenant. That is what’s keeping post offices open. We have tried other new businesses, but it’s not bridging the gap,” Padraig noted.

“The government is taking services away from us, instead of giving us services.”

Mr McNamara says there is a real risk of further post office closures should financial support not be received, citing a deal agreed by An Post two years ago which is due to conclude in June of next year.

He stated: “When that deal is finished in June 2021, we believe there is going to be anything between 300-500 post offices closed. And that will only be the start of the fall.

“That could be avoided, if the government step in.”

The Granard postmaster says the loss of a post office would be huge for any town or village, from an economic and social perspective.

He said: “If a post office closes in any town, be it Granard or any town in the county, it would close every other shop along with it.

“The spin-off people get from the post office is huge.There is a huge social aspect to it, but there is also a huge economic aspect to it as well.

“We are the heart of the town. We are the government’s frontline in every town and village in the country. They should be utilising us and not taking business from us.”

Continuing he said: “It’s all about bridging the gap and if the government keeps taking services from us, it’s going to kill us, and by killing us it is going to kill every town and village. Like, I wouldn’t like to see Granard without a post office. It would have a huge ripple effect.

“If you took all the money that is being paid through the post office out of the system in Longford town, it would have huge repercussions for every shop in that town.”

Mr McNamara noted that incoming stamp price increases (from €1 to €1.10) are nowhere enough to cement the future of post offices countrywide.

He stated: “The increase to stamp prices isn’t going to keep our doors open. What is going to keep our door open is government services. We were set up by the government to deliver postal and governmental services. That is what we were set up to do.

“The RED C poll is clearly telling the government that they need to sit up and listen to us. They need to sit up, listen and make things happen and by doing so, create a vibrant economy for all towns and villages alike across the country.

“They are trying to close the towns down instead of helping us and feeding us going forward. By feeding the post office, you are feeding the economy in these rural and urban areas throughout the country,” he concluded.

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