Thursday 19 April 2018

Post Office staff have saved the lives of the elderly, Rural Alliance claims

Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Post office staff in Rural Ireland have “saved lives” by alerting the emergency services when elderly people have failed to collect their post, it was claimed today.

Members of the Dáil’s Rural Alliance formally launched a bill aimed at protecting the post office network.

In a rare development, the bill is set to secure the support of every TD when it is voted upon on Thursday.

Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae said the bill is essential in preventing the closure of hundreds of post offices.

“We are not looking for handouts,” the Independent deputy told reporters at Leinster House.

“What we want is to be allowed to keep our doors open and ensure, in ten years time and 20 years time, that we will have the same amount of post offices as we do have now. Right now, if we do nothing, we will lose 200-300 post offices over the next two-three years,” he added.

Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said he has come across cases whereby postmasters and postmistresses have saved lives. He said there have been examples whereby the alarm was raised after customers failed to turn up to collect their post.

In one case, according to Mr McGrath, emergency services found an elderly man dead in the woods after he was out collecting for Christmas wreaths. They had earlier been alerted by the local post office.

The post masters and mistresses and clerks know the people,” Mr McGrath said. "If they don't arrive for their post, alarm bells go off.”

The group launching the bill also includes Kerry TD Danny Healy Rae, Cork South West TD Michael Collins, Clare deputy Dr Michael Harty and Galway West TD Noel Grealish.

The bill itself was spearheaded by prominent  postmaster Tom O’Callaghan.

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