Second postmaster puts himself up as election candidate in deepening row with Government over feared post office closures
A second postmaster has put himself up as an election candidate in the deepening row with Government over feared post office closures.
Andrew Kelly from Cabra, Dublin, will run in the Dublin Central constituency as part of a campaign to get more public services and welfare payments made through the network.
The Irish Postmasters' Union has claimed there are concerns that up to 557 post offices could close by 2017 as more social welfare payments are made electronically.
Mr Kelly, known for community activism in north Dublin, said post office closures is not just a rural issue.
He said: "Current Government policy is forcing Post Office customers to the commercial banks and will lead to major network closures.
"We know that when a post office closes it is followed by further local business closures and the heart is torn out of the community.
"Banks, large corporates and the financial services sector have too much power in deciding what type of country we live in. It is time for Irish people to get vocal about what we want for our communities and society."
Another six candidates are expected to put their names forward for ballot papers later in the year.
Seona O'Fegan, a postmistress in Barna and Fr Griffin Road post offices in Galway, has already said she will stand in the next general election.
The post office campaign has claimed Government policy is forcing people using state services and receiving benefits to deal with commercial banks.
Currently, about half of social protection payments are paid electronically and half at the counter, with Government planning to have 97% electronic by the end of 2018.
A report by business dragon Bobby Kerr for the Government last week said the post office network is seriously under-utilised and called for new services to be brought into the network including the payment of welfare.
Mr Kelly has been a scout leader in Phibsboro for 22 years, coaches rugby in Glasnevin and was a former chairman of Christ The King girls' school.
He said: "While the issue of post offices is often perceived as a rural issue, I see from my work in Cabra that people in the city are deeply concerned about the future of the community that they live in."