The proposed closure of five rural post offices in Tipperary has been described as a "direct assault on rural communities,” by local Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill.
He said the five local communities were on track to lose their post offices following inaction by the Government.
Deputy Cahill was commenting as Ballingarry, Clogheen, Gurtnahoe, Littleton and Templetuohy learned that An Post had offered voluntary redundancy to their post masters or mistresses.
“Let me be absolutely crystal clear. Post masters and post mistresses are entitled to take voluntary redundancy. They have given years of dedicated service to their local communities, and should be able to retire with a fair financial package," he said.
However, Deputy Cahill said that this could not be used as a backdoor way to post office closures.
An Post and the Government have been actively seeking to reduce the number of post offices in rural Ireland for years, and have sought to use the redundancy scheme as a smokescreen to bring about closures, he said.
“Taking away the State harp from over the door signals the State’s withdrawal from the village and effectively tells people that they State no longer sees that village as a viable place to live and work. There is a domino effect when it comes to the removal of State services from villages and rural towns," said the Thurles-based TD.
“Post offices cannot be viewed in the same way as other commercial enterprises. Viewing their viability through the prism of simple profit and loss equations ignores the real impact of post offices in rural communities," he said.
Deputy Cahill said that Fianna Fáil had an alternative view of how post offices should be supported, including that the Department should initiate a Public Service Obligation (PSO) to keep at risk post offices open and to maintain the post office network at current levels.
“Fine Gael and Independent TDs supporting Fine Gael must come clean and explain why they are allowing this to happen. In particular, they need to explain to these five Tipperary communities why they are being targeted on this occasion,” said Deputy Cahill.