Seamus McDonagh

Seamus McDonagh (WP)

The Workers’ Party have said that the proposed closure of at least 80 post offices, most of them in rural areas, would amount to “another nail in the coffin of rural Ireland” and the party has called on the government to stop the plan going ahead.

Meath East Workers’ Party representative Seamus McDonagh said that while the proposal comes as no surprise, it is completely unacceptable and will have a devastating effect on rural towns and villages while it will also cause hardship in some urban areas.

Mr. McDonagh noted that the proposal was drawn up by businessman and Dragon’s Den contestant Bobby Kerr who was engaged by An Post to draw up the plan on a purely business basis which ignored the social aspect of the post office service.

“This plan is the brainchild of a hard-headed business executive who knows nothing about life in rural Ireland, or for that matter life in working class urban communities for which the local post office is more than a place to buy stamps or collect social welfare payments.  The post office is a lifeline, it is the hub of a small community and for older people the weekly visit to the post office may be their only contact with their neighbours. Taking away a post office tears the heart out of a community”, said McDonagh.

“It is no secret”, said the Workers’ Party spokesman, “that An Post is being assailed by the private sector who want to take over its more profitable services and don’t give a damn about what happens local communities.  To bring someone whose bottom line is profit in to advise on the future of post offices is tantamount to allowing the privateer vultures to set the agenda”.

Empty shops, closed post offices – the death of rural Ireland 

Mr. McDonagh said that rural communities were already on their last legs, the cuts at Bus Éireann and now the closure of 80 post offices would devastate them.  “This will kill rural Ireland – that is no cliché, it is a reality. Towns and villages have already been denuded of young people and now there will be no services of any kind. Is it any wonder that older people are terrified in their homes when there is no garda station, no post office, not even a telephone box anymore? The whole place has been stripped bare”.

The Kells based WP spokesman noted that the news about rural post offices comes at the same time that it has emerged that Ulster Bank is to close up to 30 branches. He said the banks had been bailed out at massive cost to the Irish people and their abandonment of these communities was a slap in the face for those who had paid a high price to keep the banks afloat.

“All of this amounts to criminal neglect and deliberate destruction of services by a government with an appalling disregard for workers, small farmers, the poor and the most vulnerable people in the state”, said Mr. McDonagh.