Deputy Mattie McGrath
Members of the Oireachtas Rural Independent Group have said that they will be forthrightly challenging the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, to admit political accountability regarding the deal that has emerged between An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union.
Speaking ahead of the Minister’s appearance before the Communications, Climate Change and Environment Committee tomorrow, the Convenor of the Rural Group, MattieMcGrath, indicated that they will be demanding answers around the sheer scale of the post office closures that are being anticipated:
“Last year when news broke that up to 80 Post Offices were being ear marked for closure, it was devastating news for communities in rural Ireland.
Now it has emerged that this so-called ‘deal’ between An Post and the IPU will lead to the closure of 159 rural post offices in a restructuring plan that is being sold as ‘progress’ and essentially beneficial for the future of the post office network.
That in itself tells us all we need to know about the direction of travel that this government and An Post are moving in, in terms of a real and substantial commitment to rural Ireland.
The facts of the matter are that on November 16th last the government accepted a Dáil Motion that I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group put forward; a motion that laid out a clear pathway toward the survival of the post office network.
Unfortunately, since then all we have had is empty rhetoric about a commitment to rural Ireland and the vital services that underpin it.
In March of this year Minister Michael Ring asked all interested parties to comment on a proposed new model of community banking to evaluate the viability of the model in the Irish context. But once again, since that point next to nothing has been done in terms of effective action.
This clearly demonstrates that the government has zero real interest in preserving the network.
The government may feel it has gotten itself off the hook by referring to the ‘deal’ that has emerged. We are here to tell them otherwise.
The people of rural Ireland have now clearly seen that at best this government has a long history of shameful ambivalence toward the Post Office Network and for that there must be political accountability,” concluded Deputy McGrath.