THE union representing postmasters in Ireland has warned that its members are willing to "take action" in a bid to halt efforts to "cannibalise" the Post Office network.
The Irish Postmasters union urged the government to produce an action plan which will map out how it intends to ensure the survival of hundreds of rural post offices.
The call comes as An Post confirmed that it is reviewing the service needs in three locations with to closing the post offices located there.
Two of the Post offices serve communities in Donegal, while the other is in Barnaderg in Galway.
TDs and senators today debated a report published by Grant Thornton which predicts that close to 600 post offices face closure by 2017.
The report warned that there would be mass closures, particularly in rural Ireland, if the Post Office network loses its lucrative social welfare contract.
General Secretary of the Union, Brian McGann, told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications that the network will be destroyed if the social welfare contract is lost.
'It seems to us that the government is presiding over the death of communities in this country," he said.
Mr McGann presented members with a letter written by a severely disabled customer of An Post, who expressed grave concern about the potential loss of the service.
"Being centrally located, it brings life to our village, at a time when other businesses sadly closed in the vicinity. It's so conducive to all our needs. I'd be lost without it," the woman wrote.
TDs will late debate a private members motion which calls on the government to ensure the protection of the post office network.
Several hundred people are expected to demonstrate outside Leinster House tonight.