11 April 2017:
Postmasters and the communities they serve protested outside An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s constituency office in Castlebar today (Tuesday, April 11), demanding urgent action to save hundreds of Post Offices.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) said that the Taoiseach, as leader of government, must take responsibility for the political limbo regarding the Post Office Network – and will be calling for his resignation if he does not act swiftly.
Postmasters are seeking a sustainable future for a maximum number of Post Offices, with delivery of all appropriate Government services through the Network.
The protest comes after responsibility for the Network has reverted from Minister of State Michael Ring to Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Denis Naughten, following a reported heated exchange at the Cabinet.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara called for leadership from the Taoiseach on what his Government will do to avoid up to 600 Post Office closures, which An Post is understood to be currently considering.
National representatives together with local Postmasters, and communities from across the Taoiseach’s own constituency, gathered outside his Castlebar Office at midday – demanding action at the highest political level.
Postmasters met last night with Minister Naughten, but said there was no clarity stemming from the meeting – and they are now looking to the Taoiseach.
“There is ongoing talk and lip service from different people in Government, but no action. It is imperative that we have new services sanctioned immediately and meaningful recognition made of Post Offices’ social and community value – coming from the Taoiseach.
In the current crisis, Mr. O’Hara today set out six priority steps which need to be taken:
- Investment in the Network, both Capital and Current, to allow for transition from the existing model to a future fit for purpose model.
- The Bobby Kerr report recommended a €56 million investment over a four-year period and this must be implemented.
- Government must encourage use of Post Offices for Social Protection payments
- Immediate introduction of Motor Tax and other state and community services, as well as a Standard Bank Account
- A working group including Postmasters, An Post and Government be set up to examine: form generation and completion, amalgamation of services with other State bodies and appointment of Postmasters as Peace Commissioners for verification of legal documents
- The Shared value pilot programme (provision of additional social type services in rural Post Offices) to be extended to a much greater number of Post Offices.
“Communities want their Post Office to stay open and Postmasters will work to honour this. It cannot be left to An Post to make decisions on the future of communities in rural Ireland purely on the basis of its commercial mandate.
“The IPU has invited Minister Naughten to attend Postmasters’ Annual Conference in Westport on May 6th and 7th. We are today extending this invitation to the Taoiseach. This gives the Taoiseach and Minister an opportunity to comprehensively address Postmasters and Postmistresses and provide clarity on whether communities in the future will have a Post Office or not.
“If they cannot answer these questions, Postmasters will hold a major rally outside the Dáil calling for the Taoiseach’s resignation together with local campaigns in every constituency, to expose this government for betraying its promises,” he concluded.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.