A public demonstration is planned for Ballina tomorrow (Saturday ) as part of the community campaign to retain Ardnaree post office. It is being described as a demonstration of solidarity that will send a clear message to An Post that the community is united in its stand against any attempt to close the facility.
The rally will get under way at 2pm from the Humbert Monument and march to Ardnaree post office where a number of publc representatives will speak.
Ballina-based Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary has made calls within the Dail chamber for the retention of the post office, noting that An Post had recently received a Government loan of €30 million on the understanding that the funds be used to support post offices such as Ardnaree.
"The retention of postal services at Ardnaree has my full support and my submission to An Post has outlined that in no uncertain terms," Deputy Calleary said. "Ardnaree Post Office is of deep-rooted economic and social importance to Ardnaree, to Ballina and the wider hinterland.
In terms of network coverage and level of business, it the catchment area of Ardnaree Post Office numbers almost 5,000 adults of voting age and encompasses polling stations at the Sean Duffy Centre (4 ), The Quay (2 ), Attymass, Behy, and Breaffy. It is worth noting that 5,000 people represents 33 per cent of the entire Ballina voting population, and that Ardnaree post office’s customer base is almost a 50-50 urban/rural split.
"As well as providing postal and all associated services to private households and individuals, Ardnaree post office also serves a very large educational and industrial customer-base with three enterprise/industrial parks and nine educational centres in the immediate vicinity of the office," Deputy Calleary added. "The accessibility of the facility at Ardnaree is of huge social and economic importance to Ballina.
"For State Pension recipients from the immediate neighbourhood Ardnaree post office is within walking distance; for young families and for business owners, parking facilities are readily available. The Government provided a €30 million loan to An Post in November 2017 and I understand that this loan was to allow for a continuation of a five-day postal service and an expansion of the existing parcel delivery service.
"With this additional funding in place, I believe that Ardnaree post office with its 5,000 population, which is larger than many regional towns, is an example for the potential growth of the post office network," he continued. "I contend that Ardnaree post office is a viable post office, now and into the future.
"The physical environment of Ardnaree, Bunree, Shanaghy, Church Road, and the Quay area has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. There are now a total of 20 housing developments in the area which will provide the customer base for the post office into the foreseeable future.
"A recent statement outlining the creation of An Post Retail stated that it would be 'the new stand-alone business charged with securing a successful future for the post office network by transforming and re-imagining the business and making it more relevant and useful to a broader range of customers'; withdrawing services from Ardnaree is the opposite of that aim.
"I would encourage people to support Saturday's demonstration so that a clear and strong message of support for the retention of Ardnaree post office is delivered to the decision-makers in An Post. Finally I want to congratulate the Save Ardnaree Post Office Committee and the community in general for the massive response to the threat of closure. Hopefully all the hard work will pay dividends."
An Post is at present undertaking a public consultation on how it can best provide post office services in the area, as the postmaster in Ardnaree is retiring. All are urged to make their views known to An Post before the public consultation period ends at 5pm today (Friday ) and to go out to support tomorrow’s march.