KEEPING Broadford Post Office will be a “real challenge”, according to Communications Minister Eamon Ryan.
A new campaign has started to re-open Broadford Post Office, which has been in operation in the village for almost 190 years.
A case for the retention of Broadford Post Office was presented during a Zoom meeting between representatives of An Post, Clare’s Oireachtas members and councillors in the Killaloe Municipal District on Thursday.
This meeting, which was organised by Senator Timmy Dooley, is part of a new lobbying campaign to ensure the post office remains in the village.
Broadford Post Office closed a few weeks before Christmas temporarily on compassionate grounds. However, fears have been expressed that it may not re-open as the current operator is retiring.
Communications Minister Eamon Ryan didn’t give any commitment Broadford Post Office would re-open when questioned by Deputy Cathal Crowe in the Dáil.
Deputy Crowe claimed An Post is taking advantage of the retirement of the postmaster, James O’Brien, to shut down this facility.
The Fianna Fáil Deputy recalled Mr O’Brien has done a fabulous job but now has to step back from the business for personal reasons.
“An Post says people can go 15 km over the road to Tulla or Ardnacrusha or a shorter distance to Kilkishen. That is irrelevant because as we have seen during Covid-19, more and more people are back in their home environments working from home and villages have become viable once more. It is illogical to do this and shutting down key services is just stripping the bedrock out of a village.
“I know the Minister wants to see a vibrant rural Ireland but when post offices, local schools and shops are closed, the very rural Ireland we are trying to protect is hollowed out.
“If it was good enough to run last year or the year before and was profitable then it should be serving the heart of the community and its surrounding areas for many years to come,” he said.
Wishing Mr O’Brien well in his retirement, Minister Ryan said he regretted “there does not appear to be anybody willing to take on the post office and keep it operational”.
“I understand that this is a critical issue for the people of Broadford and, similarly, for hundreds of post offices and communities across the country, particularly in rural areas.
“None of this is easy. I cannot sugar the pill for the people of Broadford and tell them there is an easy and immediate solution. Nevertheless, we do need to find a solution and we can do so by putting all our efforts towards ensuring that as many Government services and financial services as possible are available through the post office network. That is our best chance.
“We face a real challenge despite the really good work done in this area in terms of mediation. The work done by the Irish Postmasters Union and others in seeking solutions has been very progressive. The Covid-19 crisis has worsened what was already a difficult situation,” he stated.
Broadford Post Office closed on November 9, 2012 but re-opened again on May 2013 following a successful campaign spearheaded by public representatives and a local action group.
Broadford Action Group chairperson, P J Mason, stressed it is vital that a post office remains in the village, particularly for the elderly and those who don’t have a car.
Mr Mason said a lot of people wanted to lodge their money in a post office rather than a bank. With some people working away from home, he said they were concerned they will have to drive to either Ardnacrusha or Tulla to collect registered post.