Tuesday 22 January 2019

Donard Post Office group takes fight to Leinster House

The motorcade of 4x4 vehicles on their way to Leinster House.
The motorcade of 4x4 vehicles on their way to Leinster House.
The protest was led by a hearse bearing the placard ‘R.I.P Rural Ireland’.

The campaign to save Donard Post Office continued as a convoy of 4s4 vehicles gathering outside Leinster House, led by a black hearse to signify the death of rural Ireland.

The Donard Post Office Action Group lodged a submission with an independent reviewer outlining reasons why the post office should stay open. However, it was confirmed in a letter from An Post that the office will close and all social welfare payments and AddressPal items for collection will be transferred to Dunlavin.

Last Tuesday protesters brought the campaign right to the doorstep of Leinster House in the form of a ten strong 4s4 motorcade, which included a black hearse, provided by Jimmy Burke from Baltinglass, leading the procession.

'We wanted to get our point across without disrupting traffic too much, otherwise the motorcade would have been even larger,' said Philipp Matuschka of the Donard Post Office Action Group.

All of Wicklow's TDs were in attendance at the rally, apart from Minister of Health Simon Harris. They also spoke to an assistant to an assistant to Minister Richard Bruton.

Campaigners are still hopeful that An Post will reverse their decision.

'The whole review process needs to be looked at,' said Mr Matuschka. 'The letter confirming that the post office will close came from An Post and not the independent reviewers. It's a complete farce and as far as we are concerned.'

Cllr Jim Ruttle was also part of the protest and travelled up to Dublin in his own 4x4 as part of the campaign convoy.

'These attacks on rural Ireland have to stop. There has been a great service provided in Donard for many years. It's now a case of keeping up the good fight. In Kerry, Ballinskelligs Post Office got a reprieve from closure and that's a lot smaller than Donard.

'Wicklow County Council has Donard down as an area of growth so the closure of the post office is totally contrary to that,' said Cllr Ruttle.

Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly has said there is an obvious solution put forward by Fianna Fail that would save Donard Post Office but the Government needs to put it into practice to have any effect.

'Fianna Fáil has supported an amendment to the new Post Offices bill that would see rural branches effectively subsidised,' said Deputy Donnelly.

'The amendment received cross-party support when it was passed in the Dáil last month. But we're still waiting for the Government to actually do anything about it. It needs to listen to what we've suggested and urgently revise plans to close more than 150 Post Offices close around the country, mostly in areas with very few alternative facilities.

'What we'd like to see is the introduction of Public Service Obligation Payments for rural Post Offices. PSOs would work in much the same way as the subsidies which are used for buses and broadband in areas that aren't profitable for operators'.

Wicklow People