Local post office network must be supported with Public Service Obligation – Matt Carthy TD
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has issued a scathing rebuke of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s track record on local post offices. He has called on the government to introduce a Public Service Obligation to support the network into the future.
Deputy Carthy was speaking in the Dáil on a Private Members Motion on the future of the post office network which called on the government to reinvigorate the network and avoid any further closures.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD said:
“The local post office is in many respects the heartbeat of local communities. For many people, it is also their primary interaction with the State. It is where Government, business, communities and real living people meet.
“That is why the closure of a post office can be such a devastating ordeal for a local community.
“It cannot be overstated that when a service such as a post office is removed, it also removes part of the fabric of that community and creates a sense of disengagement and disempowerment.
“Unfortunately, all too often post office closures are part of a wider removal of other services so the same communities that lose their post offices often also see their Garda stations or schools under threat. Invariably, local enterprise will follow those services out of the “community.
“The Government should not only agree to adopt this motion and accept the Sinn Féin amendment but Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs must also recognise the failures of their own policies.
“Under a Fianna Fáil Government, 755 local post offices were shut down between 1999 and 2011. Fine Gael oversaw the closure of 159 other post offices in 2018 alone.
“With each one of those closures, the Government failed those communities affected and the principle of balanced regional development.
“Therefore, it is important that as a first step we accept the Public Service Obligation as a model that can revitalise those post offices and start putting our money where our mouth is.
“It is not good enough to simply say we support our local post offices unless we are willing to adopt the budgetary and policy framework that will allow them to be viable”.
Following the debate, Deputy Carthy said:
“Over the last 20 years communities have been consistently fighting the closures of their local post offices, closures which have a profound impact in our communities. Postmasters have presented credible proposals which would revitalise the post office network but these can been ignored by government and An Post management.
“For example, my colleague Cllr Cathy Bennet and I have been attempting to get a service as modest as a post box installed in the village of Annyalla, but An Post have resisted this simple request from a local community.
“It is evident that we need a radical rethink of our postal services that delivers for rural communities in the first instance but that also allows local branches to thrive. That requires a Public Service Obligation, an expansion of the facilities available at post offices and a commitment from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that they will not permit any further branch closures”.