BROADFORD Post Office was just one of four nationwide that closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, it emerged this week.
Deputy Cathal Crowe has called on An Post to review this branch closure after representatives from An Post appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications recently.
Deputy Crowe disputed claims the post office was closed due to Covid-19 or contractual changes.
“When I asked about the reasons behind the closure, a number of policies were laid out to me – distance between branches, size of communities and so on. This, however, is not the reasoning behind Broadford’s case,” said Deputy Crowe.
“There had been a commitment to keep Broadford open and only for personal reasons necessitating the postmaster’s retirement, this branch would be open today.
“So it is incorrect to say that Broadford’s closure has been a result of Covid-19 or contractual changes or so on.
“I believe there is cherry picking going on here and I don’t believe this is viable.
“Nobody would enter the profession of being a postmaster or postmistress, it is a survival of the fittest model and not a business model.”
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Violet Anne-Wynne called on the government to put preventative measures in place to stop widespread closures as projected by the Irish Postmasters Union.
“The anticipated number of closures is 200, which is huge given that only 160 were lost in 2019, and six in Clare specifically.
“Recently, we lost a much-needed post office in Broadford, a community to which an awful lot of people seeking rural communities have relocated due to the pandemic.”
She stressed the introduction of a public service obligation, PSO, is vital to secure the future of the network and to allow post offices to continue to provide excellent and important services.
“The Minister of State should not underestimate the importance of this service, and specifically to our most marginalised and disadvantaged, such as our elderly and disabled, and to the many others who see this service as vital to their everyday lives.”
Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton said the government is committed to ensuring a viable post office network throughout the country.
“Part of the work I have been doing across government relates to that focus and exploring the potential for a one-stop shop approach to delivering government services.
“The IPU commissioned Grant Thornton to produce a report on how the network could be made more sustainable and that report is being assessed by NewERA. An Post has also put forward a proposal, which has been assessed by NewERA.”
Speaking in the Seanad recently on a Post Office Network motion, Senator Timmy Dooley called for an annual subvention or a public service obligation on An Post to provide the service to the post offices that currently exist.
Senator Dooley stressed that basing a post office’s viability on the transactions that generated the funds to pay postmasters or postmistresses is no longer viable.
He said post offices should remain while people still need them, particularly the elderly who are not computer proficient and don’t have access to the internet.
“We have seen enough post office closures. Most recently, a post office was closed in my own area of Broadford. The closure is a shame and should be reversed, if at all possible,” he concluded.
by Dan Danaher