New legislation threatens rural Galway post offices

Post offices in rural Galway should not be threatened with closure over Government plans to relpace ‘An Post’ with the term “payment service provider” in the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill.

This is the view of Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson and Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who believes changes to the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill could have “a detrimental impact” on rural Galway post offices.

The new legislation will see Social Protection Minister Joan Burton removing the term An Post from the legislation and replacing it with “payment service provider”. This change would seem to indicate oncoming privatisation of the service and has raised fears about An Post’s future.

Dep Ó Cuív said this was “very dangerous for the post office network” as it is “highly dependent” on the Department of Social Protection contract for revenue.

“Any plans to change An Post’s position as the payment service provider for the Department could spell the beginning of the end for hundreds of post offices across the country, with post offices in rural areas in Galway particularly at risk,” he said.

Dep Ó Cuív believes Galway “has already been subjected to savage cuts” by the Fine Gael-Labour administration, with the closure of numerous Garda stations and small schools.

“The Minister cannot be allowed to secure the closure of local post offices by changing the terminology in the Bill,” he said. “Post offices provide communities with essential services and are the lifeblood of many rural villages in this county. Not only do they provide financial and postal services, they offer a social outlet for people to meet.”

Dep Ó Cuív is now calling on the Government to clarify its position on An Post, and to ensure “the network is maintained and enhanced, not jeopardised by the changes to the legislation”.

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