Friday 14 December 2018

Anger at 'silence' over post office

Protests in January 2017 against the closure of Laragh Post Office
Protests in January 2017 against the closure of Laragh Post Office

Myles Buchanan

Deputy Pat Casey has lambasted An Post's for failing to respond to local submissions regarding Laragh Post Office following its closure a year ago.

He also said that the Government's announcement of a €30 million loan to An Post contains nothing that will secure the medium-term future of Wicklow's post office network.

'It's now nearly a year since Laragh and Kilmacanogue Post Offices closed their doors. In Laragh's case, several credible business plans were put forward, in conjunction with a very vocal and effective campaign by the community and the response from An Post is not a letter, not a post card, no response at all. They never even had the courtesy of acknowledging the local submissions that were made,' said Deputy Casey.

'The Glendalough District Association lodged a business plan about setting up a community post office at the Brockagh Resource Centre. They got no response either. It was a big, local campaign and got plenty of national media attention, yet we have heard nothing from An Post,' he said.

'They haven't made any official announcement about Laragh post office but it is a year on now so we all assume it won't be reopening. But like I said, we have heard nothing.'

When contacted by this newspaper, a spokesperson for An Post said the closure remained temporary until a national review of the post office network was complete.

The Fianna Fail TD believes that the €30 million package announced by the Government will be spent on redundancies in the postal delivery side of the business and on retirement packages for postmasters.

'The pensioning off of postmasters will leave vast swathes of rural areas without a post office unless the Government changes its views on rural Ireland.'

Deputy Casey maintains that the recent announcement is nothing but a short-term fix and doesn't deal with any long term challenges facing the industry.

'What's needed is an operational plan that delivers a range of services for customers thereby making the post office a more viable proposition. There is fear across the county over the potential for further post offices to shut. I know there have been concerns expressed in Baltinglass and Avoca.

'The post office network is much more than a business. Post offices are community hubs that encourage and promote the retention and development of services generally in rural Wicklow. Post offices should be seen in terms of a public service and as such, central government should provide, where necessary, a public service obligation payment to An Post to maintain the existing network.'

Wicklow People