An independent west of Ireland TD has said that the post office network “is about to collapse and branch closures are inevitable” without immediate support from the government.

Deputy Seán Canney said that An Post union representatives have noted that from July 1, postmaster operated offices face a major challenge as a significant reduction in payment rates, an average fall of approximately 20%, will take effect.

“We the Regional Group [of TDs] are still awaiting a response from [environment] Minister Eamon Ryan. He committed to report back to the Dáil within six months of our Private Member’s Motion on the post office network last October.”

‘Immediate intervention’ needed for post office network

The Regional Group of TDs adds that An Post requires support in the roll out of new services, and the delivery of its strategic plan, to ensure its financial viability.

Sean Canney TD

“In the meantime, An Post needs immediate intervention until a long-term strategy is put in place to ensure its survival,” the Galway-East deputy added.

“There must be direct intervention by the government to develop new state services for the post office network, in line with the previous commitment given to use the network as the offline option for all government services, and to pay a fee of €17 million for this service, as outlined in the Grant Thornton report.”

Last government agency in rural areas

According to the independent TD, there are currently 875 postmaster and 45 An Post operated post offices in the country.

“An Post is one of the last government agents existing in our communities throughout the country and the government committed to a sustainable nationwide post office network as a key component of the economic and social infrastructure, in both rural and urban areas.

The Regional Group of TDs claims that the strategy adopted by the government is to allow post offices to close before intervening, while ignoring how vital post offices are for those living in rural towns and villages.

“There is a socio-economic benefit for our communities that cannot be easily be measured. The challenges facing rural and regional Ireland and their post offices, needs an urgent response from the government,” deputy Canney concluded.