Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen has said he is opposed to any proposal to close post offices which serve rural communities in Offaly. Recent reports have indicated that more than 200 post offices are earmarked for closure under an An Post restructuring plan.
Deputy Cowen said: “This plan will have serious repercussions for communities in rural Ireland should it be implemented. It would be the clearest admission yet by the Government that it simply is not interested in retaining key services in rural communities. I am resolutely opposed to the plan as it disproportionately targets rural Ireland."
“The scale of the closures being reported is frightening and will further accelerate the erosion of rural communities, which has become the hallmark of this Government. Minister Naughten in particular presents himself as a champion for rural Ireland. However his record in this area is abysmal when you consider he is presiding over the demise of towns, villages and communities all over the country. The roll-out of broadband has been abysmal, roads and infrastructure projects are at a standstill and now we are faced with the threat of more than 200 post office closures," Cowen remarked firmly.
“The Government needs to come up with a comprehensive plan to save our post office network. The emphasis to date has been on determining what post offices can be closed, but this attitude needs to change. The focus should be on increasing footfall into post offices to prevent the need for closures in the first place. This can be achieved by offering additional services in post offices to help entice people to do business with An Post," he added.
“Post offices are much more than a business model; they are the lifeblood of countless communities, particularly in rural areas. They are the nucleus of many villages, around which other services emerge and grow. They are a meeting place for older people and people living in isolated areas and act as a hub for people to catch up on local news."
“Rural communities in Offaly have suffered significant hardship in recent years due to the withdrawal of key services. The closure of post offices will only add to this problem and must be resisted. Minister Naughten needs to get to grips with this and come forward with a plan to deliver new services through our post office network,” Cowen concluded.
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