Sunday 23 October 2016

Rural post offices are community's lifeblood

Published 28/02/2014 | 02:30

Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Frank McGrath
Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Frank McGrath

As a disabled person I'm living in a rural community whose post office is among those potentially targeted for closure by Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte.

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And like many of my fellow citizens throughout the country, our local post office is of the greatest importance for me personally on many fronts. And I would safely say that rural post offices are the lifeblood for small villages and the businesses therein.

But owing to the chasm between the powerful decision-makers and the common people and an inability to see the impact of decisions on us all, some seat-polisher hidden away at great expense to Joe public is advising the closure of these post offices without knowing how much their presence is valued and needed within small communities.

Then again, it is obvious that city-dwellers like Mr Rabbitte need not be overly worried about the consequences of such actions. Our shakers and movers are sheltered from the enormity of the unnecessary stress and inconvenience these closures will bring upon elderly people and the disabled, along with everybody else in remote communities.

Post offices offer excellent services for social welfare recipients and old age pensioners as they allow them to collect entitlements in a safe environment and also to pay all types of utility bills. The post office is a meeting place for many elderly citizens who know their financial transactions can be done in privacy but also in very safe and secure surroundings.

Over the last number of years this Government has declared, when challenged, that it was the troika that deemed it necessary to close a number of garda stations in rural areas to save money. Then many of the same areas lost their bus servers and now their post office is under threat of closure. What next, Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore? Might that be our local schools?




* The banks could make one small effort to thwart the types of scams perpetrated on Bank of Ireland customers in Kilkenny and Carlow as reported yesterday. Banks could deny foreign withdrawals of cash unless the customer has pre-notified them of dates they would be in such and such a country.

With credit cards, I was advised many years ago to pre-notify the issuer of travel dates abroad, otherwise their software flags up an oddity about a transaction and it may be refused. It doesn't take rocket science to apply the same logic to bank cards.




* Congratulations to the 'Ballyhea Says No' protest marchers who want "to right the wrong that was done with the imposition of €70bn of private bank debt onto the shoulders of the Irish people" (Diarmuid O'Flynn, Letters, February 26).

The problem arises as to who we should be protesting against, and who should pay to right the wrong.

First of all, given the risks, which were highlighted at the time, our democratically elected government did not have to join the new currency.

Secondly, hundreds of cheap billions did not, as alleged by Diarmuid O'Flynn, "pour from the core of Europe" to this peripheral country.

The decisions to borrow were made by some of this country's most influential citizens, in charge of its most powerful institutions.

The equivalent decision-makers in most of the other countries which were members of the same "fatally flawed currency" did not borrow to the same extent as Ireland's decision-makers did. Their countries, therefore, did not go broke. Ireland did.

Thirdly, when Diarmuid O'Flynn says that "Ireland is owed the €20bn taken from our Pension Reserve Fund to fund the bank bailout", he implies that the citizens of countries who managed their membership of the euro better than we did should pay.

I imagine they have different ideas.

All of us should, however, wish the 'Ballyhea Says No' protest marchers every success in their determination to right the wrongs of the past and to remind us not to repeat the mistakes of the past.




* Minister Quinn seems intent on pushing through changes to the Junior Cert which I believe are very flawed. Basically, I believe that the model of teachers assessing their own students is fundamentally flawed. What grieves me is the removal of an independent adjudication and awarding body, ie the State Examinations Commission. Instead schools will be free to design their own courses.

The majority of teachers would love some Junior Cert reform. For certain subjects, they have been working off of the same stale curriculum for almost two decades. However, to replace it with a wishy-washy, watered-down, teacher-assessed local certification, whose validity will depend on the school a child comes from, is a big mistake.




* I must commend Limerick City Council on its inspired choice of names for Merchants Quay and Shannon Bridge (February 26). These Limerick landmarks have been renamed Brian Boru Square and John F Kennedy Bridge respectively.

These choices are much more impressive than the name which Dublin City Council eventually chose for the new Marlborough Street bridge in Dublin City. After all of the publicity, Marlborough Street bridge was eventually named after a trade unionist, Rosie Hackett, whom very few Dubliners had heard of.




* Rehab receives €83m in taxpayers' money by way of state funding, yet we had Chief Executive Angela Kerins saying, "We are not a state-run organisation, nor are any of our staff public servants."

That may be so, but it's a jaded mantra that is used to avoid providing details of senior executive salaries: salaries Ms Kerins claims are below the market average.

That taxpayers' money is not used directly to pay these salaries is irrelevant.

The salient question remains to be answered: could Rehab continue to operate as a business without state funding and still maintain its current salary levels?




* Eric Conway claims (February 25) that many homosexuals are against gay marriage and that this can speak eloquently against it.

But on the other hand, are there not many heterosexuals who are opposed to heterosexual marriage?

To give one historic example, early feminist Sylvia Pankhurst refused to marry the father of her child because she did not want marriage to subjugate her to a husband.

If this is the case – that there is a sizable number of heterosexuals opposed to heterosexual marriage – would this also make a good case against heterosexual marriage?

Maybe, because of all these people on both sides who are opposed to matrimony, there should be no marriages at all.



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