A meeting has been secured with An Post officials concerning the recent closure of the Post Office Agency in Cleggan. Local Fine Gael TD Seán Kyne has arranged the meeting to take place in Cleggan on Friday, September 18. Members of the local community council and a number of public representatives will attend.
The post office in Cleggan served the local community for four decades until full services ended in 2009. This led to the introduction of a postal agency arrangement which provided customers with selected services including welfare payments to pensioners, the disabled, and the unemployed. Following a recent retirement, and the changing hands of the local grocery store, through which the postal agency was provided, the social welfare payments service has been changed to Claddaghduff Post Office.
Deputy Kyne says the purpose of the meeting with An Post is to emphasise the importance of the service to the local community and seek a reversal of the decision. “With the recent development of a council car park in the village of Cleggan to serve those going to Inishbofin there is a new energy in the village. It is regrettable that this postal agency service has ended.”
Cleggan has been something of an embattled village for some years. Locals feel the very existence of their village as a viable place in which to live is under threat. Along with the downgrading of the post office, and now its complete closure, the local national school is in danger of closure or downgrading, due to numbers falling below 20 - as pupils move on to secondary school and fewer and fewer families remain to feed new pupils into the junior classes. There is no bus service to the next village, Claddaghduff, which is three miles away and is now the location of the nearest post office. The bus service to Clifden, which is nine miles away, is infrequent, and difficult for those who have a physical handicap.
Locals devastated at the move
Marty Coyne is a quadriplegic, confined to an electrically operated chair, which he controls by means of a chin stick. He is hugely disappointed the postal agency is closing. “I can’t get myself anywhere under my own steam. I’ve had to give Power of Attorney to my sister, herself a widow who doesn’t drive; so I now have to find a neighbour who will be willing to pick me up and load me into their car and drive me to collect my benefit. It’s a huge inconvenience - not just to me, but to the pensioners, and unemployed of this area, most of whom don’t have their own transport.”
Mr Coyne says the residents of Cleggan and its environs find it impossible to understand the decision by An Post. “It is a decision taken by some faceless person in a semi-state body. The sub-post office has been located in a shop in the heart of the village, and operated by the shopkeeper, with no salary involved - merely a token payment, a matter of cents, for each benefit payment made. The cost of that payment cannot amount to more than a couple of thousand euro per year. Delivery of the cash to be paid out is presumably made by the same personnel as deliver the cash to Claddaghduff and Clifden. So the savings to An Post would appear to be minimal, whereas the inconvenience and distress caused to the people of the Cleggan area is enormous. I’m now asking An Post to reverse this move, or at the very least to contact me, to explain why it has made this seemingly inexplicable decision.”