Postmaster Tom O’Callaghan, of Upper William Street, said post office closures are ‘imminent’
A LEADING postmaster has said that all post offices in Limerick are “under threat” if the Government does not quickly implement a community banking system, which was agreed on almost one year ago.
For four years, Limerick city postmaster Tom O’Callaghan has led a campaign for the post office network to adopt a banking system which would see net profits redistributed in the local communities.
The Upper William Street independent postmaster said that a motion, which he worded, was passed “unanimously” by Dáil deputies in November 2016, after Mr O’Callaghan contacted every politician, including 942 councillors about the matter.
The passed motion would see An Post diversify into a community banking system, similar to the Kiwibank model in New Zealand, which generated more than $100m in net profits for local communities last year.
At Dáil level, the campaign is being led by the Independent Rural Group, namely Deputy Mattie McGrath and Deputy Michael Healy-Rae.
However, Mr O’Callaghan said, despite urging the Government to implement the programme within three months of November 2016, there has been no progress.
“The problem is we are in a modern era and the post office network needs to be adapt to that. And An Post has introduced their own basic current account, but that now needs to be developed. From that, that is the brick to build the wall.
“Let’s take an area like Murroe, for example. You go to the local post office, you apply for your finance which may be a car, or could be a farmer who wants to buy some livestock, whatever the reason being. The post office gives the finance, they charge the same rate as any commercial bank, but the profit within that stays within the village of Murroe. So it is your money going back into your community,” he said.
He added: “And people might ask: ‘Well, why aren’t postmasters protesting about this?’ Because they can’t. They are subcontractors. They do anything like that, they are in breach of contract, they shut down their office. The reality of this is that this is not an attack on the management of An Post; the direct issue and problem is Government policy.”
Mr O’Callaghan argued that if the Government does not act fast, the whole network in Limerick and Ireland “is going to be collapse”.
There are approximately 45 post offices remaining in Limerick. This week, up to 200 people protested the potential closure of the Old Pallas post office, after An Post issued a notice that it was considering its future.
“If nothing is done urgently, they are all under threat, fact. It is imminent,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
“The postmaster is the central part of every village or town, urban or rural. And if we lose this, we lose the central identity of what real Ireland is about.”
He added: “They [politicians] all talk about rejuvenation of rural Ireland, but I can assure you that the taking out of the local post offices is the most detrimental part of keeping that village going.”
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has not responded to requests for comment.