Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, stated that the board of An Post are due to make a decision later this month which could see the closure of the Athlone An Post Mail Centre.
An Post have in recent years undertaken a number of reviews of their operations throughout the country, with one of the two Midlands sorting offices, Portlaoise and Athlone, perennially a source of much closure debate.
“This news filtered down through the An Post organisation to employees via the unions in recent days. A board meeting is scheduled to take place on June 27 and I am led to believe that a decision will be taken at that meeting. A group of employees from the Athlone An Post mailing centre came to me to express their concerns and to explain the situation. I am raising this issue on their behalf, on behalf of the staff at the centre and on behalf of the people of Athlone.
“There are four An Post mailing centres in Ireland and two of these are located in the Midlands, Athlone and Portlaoise. The direction that this seems to be taking is that Athlone is the centre most likely to be cut with Portlaise becoming the sole Midlands mail centre,” Cllr. O’Rourke remarked.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor has called upon the Government to take affirmative action to ensure that the local mail centre is not closed.
“We can not allow An Post to take such drastic action. It is at times like this that Athlone needs a leader from the town with a strong and courageous voice in the Dail at Government level.
“This Government have done away with the 4th Western Brigade, Athlone Town Council and now potentially our mailing centre. We can not allow this to happen.
“Understandably the staff at the centre in Athlone are extremely concerned and want to know what this move would mean for them and for their jobs, should it come to pass. Mail volumes have seen huge reductions in recent years as people turn to electronic forms of communication, while at the same time, there has been a huge increase in the volume of parcel mail going through An Post. This switch in the An Post business mix has understandably prompted a review of the organisations operational structures. However, if there is to be any closure it must not be Athlone,” the Councillor continued.
In conclusion, Cllr. O’Rourke called upon Minister Richard Bruton to imminently make clear to the mail centre employees Government plans for the mail centre.
“Firstly, I am calling on Minister Richard Bruton to comment on the matter and come clean to the employees in Athlone in terms of any plans An Post have to down grade or close our mail centre. I am also calling on our Westmeath Government TDs to stand up now and show leadership on this particular issue,” Cllr. O’Rourke emphasised.