Politicians across the political divide in north Mayo have welcomed the news this week that Ardnaree Post Office will be kept open following the retirement of the postmaster.
An Post has announced that following a period of public consultation on the provision of post office services at Heffernan's Supermarket, Arndaree, Ballina, the existing post office will remain open.
The contract for a successful candidate will be for an initial period of two years.
There were fears over the future of the service in the north Mayo town as the current postmaster is due to retire at the end of March, but following submissions from the public, and a march of more than 1,500 people in Ballina two weeks ago, the decision has been taken to offer a new contract.
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, welcomed the decision. “Ardnaree Post Office is a vital facility to the people of Ardnaree and the surrounding areas," he said. "It offers a huge range of services and I have been in constant contact with An Post to ensure that this facility remained open.”
Mayo County Councillor John O’Hara also warmly welcomed the announcement that An Post has decided to offer a new post office contract for Ardnaree.
The Fine Gael councillor said: “I am very pleased that An Post have decided to offer a new post office contract for Ardnaree. I attended all of the meetings in relation to this very serious issue. I lobbied very hard for the retention of Ardnaree Post Office.”
The cathaoirleach of the Ballina Municipal District, Fianna Fail Councillor Annie May Reape, also welcomed the announcement, praising it as a positive result for people power.
She told the Mayo Advertiser: “It was people power at the end of the day. We had a fantastic committee that swung it. It was the people and the residents as you could see two weeks ago. They are so loyal in Ardnaree and the surrounding area. Special mention must also go to Matt Farrell, he chaired all the meetings and really kept things going.”
Fianna Fail TD, Dara Calleary, said he was delighted common sense has prevailed; "I am delighted for the community of Ardnaree and the surrounding areas who use the postal service every week. A lot of work went into the campaign and I wish to pay tribute to Matt Farrell and his hardworking committee for spearheading the campaign."
Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway Walsh congratulated the community on keeping their post office open, and hit out at An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for threatening the closure of such services. “The determination of the local community is in stark contrast to the comments of the Fine Gael leader in the Seanad last week. In response to my calls for more investment in rural infrastructure I was told that it was inevitable that more Garda stations and post offices will be closing in rural Ireland and that we must accept that.”
However, according to Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin Ardnaree Post Office can be seen as proof of the Government's commitment to rural Ireland. “Fine Gael is committed to building a sustainable future for rural Ireland, and this includes ensuring vital services are retained in local communities," she said. "The safeguarding of Ardnaree Post Office paves the way for more good news for rural Ireland in the weeks, months, and years ahead.”