Rural post offices closed without ‘commercial, economic analyses or rural proofing,’ – Gallagher

‘Rotten and stinking deal done by the Irish Postmasters Union’ – McGrath.

Sligo News File

The virtual wipeout of the post office network continues to generate heated debate in the Dail where last night a Donegal TD lashed the “deceitful way” in which the rural service is being killed off.

Pat The Cope Gallagher TD

Pat the Cope Gallagher said 17 of the post offices in his county are currently earmarked for closure. “There was no commercial analysis, no economic analysis and no rural proofing.”

Closure of the offices will mean “people will have to walk or cycle or perhaps use public transport, if it is available. I refer to 15 km.

“The people of rural Ireland, and particularly the people of my county, have been conned by this Government.

“I came in here with others, and we voted unanimously on an amendment to provide a public service obligation, PSO, for those rural areas. What has the Government done? It has ignored it.”

Calling it “a very sad day,” he also strongly criticised the absence of Communications minister, Richard Bruton from the Dail.

“If the Minister has a duplication of business, it means this is less important than the business he is now attending to. To us this is the most important business being discussed in this House today. It is a total insult to us as Deputies and to rural Ireland that this is being done. It is just not good enough. We are not prepared to accept this.
“We are looking for the Minister to meet a representative cross-party group of Deputies to discuss this matter and the associated protocols.”

“I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Canney, to confirm tonight that the Minister will meet that group of rural Deputies.”

Deputy Mattie McGrath dismissed a reply from Minister of State Sean Canney as “balderdash.” He said: “This is a rotten and stinking deal done by the Irish Postmasters Union, IPU. Who gave it any mandate to close post offices? I salute all the postmasters and postmistresses. More power to any of them who took the redundancy as they are entitled to it. Park that first of all. It did not give the IPU the right to negotiate away services from my village in Newcastle in Tipperary or the other five villages in Tipperary
losing their post offices. The Minister would not even come in here, which demonstrates his disdain.

“I have written to the four Fianna Fáil Deputies, including Deputy Michael McGrath, who are renegotiating the confidence and supply agreement. If Fianna Fáil cares about rural Ireland, with the Government it will prioritise these post offices and disband this cabal of people on a so-called independent inquiry team. Its members had neither the manners nor the respect to write back to our committee in Newcastle, which has gone about its work diligently and honestly.

Mattie McGrath, TD

Acting Chairman Deputy Eugene Murphy: The Deputy has gone way over his time.

McGrath: “The Minister must act. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael must keep these post offices open. If that does not happen they should call an election and go to the country so the people can make a decision rather than a cabal of so-called independent people with a rotten and stinking deal that the union negotiated behind people’s back.”

Canney said he couldn’t make a commitment on behalf of the Minister (Bruton) “but I will bring to him the Deputies’ request to meet an all-party delegation.

McGrath: “He should be here.”