Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehy, Sinn Fein
LIMERICK councillors have unanimously backed a Sinn Fein motion opposing the closure of any post offices across rural Ireland.
And the motion also calls on the government “to commit to the survival of the post office network” by encouraging people to use post offices to collect their payments from government departments instead of insisting on electronic transfers to banks.
Proposing the motion, Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehy said that 80 rural post offices were at risk of closure although which specific post offices had not yet been announced.
“Rural post offices must be protected and their services increased.,” she said.
This was particularly so given the bank closures announced, she argued. Closing post offices would only serve to “expand the hole” in services in rural areas.
But, she continued, “with the necessary political will” a rejuvenation of the network was possible providing financial services as well as social service delivery.
“The smaller the village the more important the post office,” Cllr Seamus Browne SF said seconding the motion. “It is the smaller rural communities that will be affected most and it is likely that it is these post offices that are being targeted.”
There is a responsibility on community members to use their post offices, Cllr Daniel Butler FG said. “I am calling on people to use it. I ask councillors here when was the last time you used a post office?” he continued. Post offices provide an impressive range of services, he said, but people have to go in and use them.
Cllr Bill O’Donnell FG argued that shared services was the way to go , as was the case in Britain while fellow party member Cllr Jerome Scanlan argued that banking through the post office was the way forward.
“There is capacity to do further bank business,” he said. “If post offices get their act together and develop a banking services, then we have a way forward with them.”