THE future of the Newcastle West post office remains uncertain after it emerged that a legal dispute has broken out between An Post and the current licence holder.
Earlier this year An Post publicly sought expressions of interest for the future operation of the post office, which has been run by the Kelleher family for a number of years.
The move followed reports late last year that An Post had raised concerns about alleged procedural breaches at the post office prior to an infamous tiger kidnapping there last June, in which over €100,000 in cash was stolen.
However the Limerick Leader understands that the future of the post office remains unresolved after a legal issue emerged between An Post and postmaster Thomas Kelleher Snr. It is understood that the action, taken by Mr Kelleher, relates to a contractual issue.
Several business people in the Newcastle West community made submissions to An Post seeking to take over the post office, which is one of the largest sub-offices in Munster and currently located in the Market Yard.
As well as its commercial and post banking facilities, the office handles social welfare payments for a large tract of West Limerick.
However An Post has since sent letters to each party that made an expression of interest, informing them that the process is “on hold.. due to developments”. These issues will have to be resolved before a new contract can be awarded, the company added.
A spokesperson for An Post remained tight-lipped on the matter, confirming only that An Post had “sought expressions of interest” for the contract, and that it will be the New Year before the process is concluded.
Mr Kelleher has been unavailable for comment.
Last November, there were reports that the post office’s staff had been placed on protective notice as talks took place between Mr Kelleher and An Post in the fallout from the robbery.
It is understood that a number of alleged procedural breaches were identified by the company in the aftermath of the robbery, in which Mr Kelleher’s son, Tommy, was kidnapped at gunpoint and held captive in a wooded area between Athea and Carrigkerry before over €100,000 in cash was handed over.
He had been left in charge of the premises while his family were on holiday in Spain.
A 27-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman were later arrested in connection with the robbery, but were released.