If the number of people using services and the incomes of postmasters doesn’t improve, the Post Office network will be decimated, according to Clare’s Independent TD Michael Harty.
Speaking in the Dáil in support of a motion from the Rural Independent Group, Dr. Harty said the government must act on its commitment to Post Offices as outlined in the Programme for Government. He referenced a post/community bank model used by New Zealand Kiwibank or the German Sparkassen version as ways for a community banking service operated by An Post to be implemented.
“The government should consider a once-off capital investment fund for the further modernisation of the post office network to enable the widespread provision of banking services in rural and disadvantaged urban areas, most of which have been completely abandoned by the current banking model.
“We need to establish a working group to identify the potential for local post offices to act as hubs to facilitate other services such as health, transport, agriculture and to act as a one-stop-shops for Government services as committed in the Programme for a Partnership Government.
Harty also called for a five year holding plan to be put in place while changes are introduced. “Government must strongly consider committing funds, while the above measures are being implemented to ensure no more downward pay reviews to post offices which will make them uneconomical and have the effect of closure by a thousand cuts”.
Michael spoke of the importance post offices have to rural communities across the country. “The post office network should be viewed as a national resource. The loss of the network, which has been built up over many years, would be another unwinding of the fabric of our rural communities. It would accelerate the demise of our unique culture and society”.