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'I had a woman here in tears, begging us to do whatever we can' - fears over closure of 159 rural post offices

 

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Fiona Tansey with residents of Gurteen Co. Sligo, outside the local post office in Gurteen, Co. Sligo
Photo: James Connolly

Fiona Tansey with residents of Gurteen Co. Sligo, outside the local post office in Gurteen, Co. Sligo Photo: James Connolly

Fiona Tansey with residents of Gurteen Co. Sligo, outside the local post office in Gurteen, Co. Sligo Photo: James Connolly

THE widespread closures of rural post offices will have a devastating “economic and social” impact on people, a shop owner has claimed.

Gurteen in Co Sligo is one of the many places that will see its post office shuttered following a deal struck between An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union.

Local business owner Fiona Tansey said she had spoken to elderly people reduced to tears at the news yesterday.

She explained: “I’ve had a woman come into the shop in tears begging us to do whatever we can.

“This has even been their social outlet. They get dressed up on a Friday and they come in for a cup of tea and they meet people. Apart from the economic impact, the social impact will be huge.”

As part of the agreement, An Post will not close any branches located in towns with a population of 500 people or more.

While Gurteen has a small population of less than 400 people, locals say the closure of the post office will affect those in surrounding areas who use the service regularly.

“They claim the number in Gurteen is 390 people.

Half a kilometre out of that in a circle, there’s 600 or 700 people.

“They should be classed in the settlement too,” said Ms Tansey.

“It’s not just a little village that you’d blink and you’d miss when you pass through. That’s why we’re so baffled that it’s being closed.”

The closest post office location will be 12km away when the postmistress retires and the local branch closes in October.

Enda Lennon, who opened his pharmacy near the post office in 2016, said the town had come back to life in recent years, leading him to open the business in that area.

“When you take the whole hinterland into account, you see why we expanded in the town,” he said.

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“It all ties in with the GP service, the pharmacy and the shops for pensioners, and it’s yet another knock for the village.”


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