Criticisms that Fianna Fáil has been misleading rural Ireland on the matter of post offices has been rubbished as “nonsense” by Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who in turn accused the Government of failing to provide a clear statement on its future plans for An Post.
Deputy Ó Cuív made the comments yesterday in response to claims by Fine Gael TD for Galway West, Sean Kyne, that while the Government has been working on a comprehensive plan to secure the future of the postal network, Fianna Fáil has been whipping up fear and panic on the issue in rural Ireland.
Speaking on Tuesday, Deputy Kyne said: “I strongly object to the way Fianna Fáil has been misleading people on this matter for the past few months. A Parliamentary Question I submitted in the Dáil has shown that while 22 post offices were closed between 2011 and 2014, 288 post offices were closed down between 2005 and 2010, when Fianna Fáil were in power. In Galway, while one post office had to be closed in recent years, 16 post offices actually closed down during Fianna Fáil’s last term in office.
“Fianna Fáil’s attempts to conjure up fear and panic in rural Ireland on the matter of our postal service, masks the truth about the drastic action they took in closing down post offices in towns and villages across the country during their last term of Government.”
Deputy Kyne confirmed the Government wants to protect post offices, two thirds of which are in rural areas, by looking at ways to expand the services they provide to communities. He added that a cross departmental working group was set up to look into the matter and there is support for the concept of the local post office as the “front office of Government” providing services for people in their local community.
Hitting back at the criticisms, Fianna Fáil’s Deputy Ó Cuív said many of the post offices that closed when his party was in Government had been unviable and the number of post offices that remain are at a sustainable level that should be maintained. “If the Government thinks we closed too many why haven’t they reopened them? We all need to work to maintain a sustainable network,” said Deputy Ó Cuív, who added that he had no problem working with Government to ensure this. Deputy Ó Cuív said that if the Government was serious about protecting post offices then it needed to give a clear statement that would see post offices becoming the first port of call for a wide range of services.
Meanwhile, An Post has responded to concerns regarding the future of Athenry Post Office confirming that there is no threat following the introduction of changes in mail processing.
Concerns grew this week after plans to relocate sorting staff to a new unit in Loughrea were revealed. Thirteen staff from Loughrea, 13 from Athenry, three from Kylebrack, and one from both Woodford and Tynagh will move to a new delivery service unit at Cottagehill Business Park in Loughrea by October.