Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications Timmy Dooley has hit out at the Social Protection Minister following the issuing of a circular to all staff in his Department relating to social welfare payments. The notice states “Customer wishes should be facilitated where they choose to receive their social welfare payment at their local post office”.
The Clare TD explained, “Far from actively encouraging payments at Post Offices, as is the commitment on page 48 of the Programme for Partnership Government, this circular merely outlines the options open to social welfare recipients and instructs staff to “facilitate” customer wishes.
“The previous Government attempted to divert business away from Post Offices by asking social welfare recipients to collect payments from a bank rather than their local post office. These latest circulars will do nothing to reverse the damage that has already been done; they just pay lip-service to the commitment made in the Programme for Government.
“This gesture by Minister Varadkar is deeply disingenuous and is more about optics than action. We need to see a concerted effort by this Government to fulfil its promise to “actively encourage payments at Post Offices” rather than circulating memos to staff.
“Post Offices are central to rural and urban life and we should not be risking their future. The Government should be doing everything in its power to strengthen the post office network not attempting to stranglehold it and divert its business to corporate entities.
“I want to see the Government progress the concept of community banking; which would see the services offered by Post Offices greatly expanded. This would help improve the network and would ensure that branches are retained. This proposal is vital to the survival of the Post Office network and should be examined and introduced without delay”.