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DONEGAL COULD LOSE 40 POST OFFICES IN SHAKE-UP WARNS UNION

first_imgDonegal is set to see forty post offices closed if the current social welfare contract is lost to An Post, the Irish Postmasters Union has warned this week. This suggests that over 7% of the targeted closures across the country are in Donegal.Despite comments by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte this week that the Government has no plans to close any post office, few in the Donegal postal service are assured in any way by those comments since plans are already in place to farm out a range of services to Tesco and other commercial enterprises. The Postmasters Union says the Govt plan for protecting the service is effectively a recipe for doing nothing.The Union has challenged Pat Rabbitte that if he is serous about the future of the service, he should rescind immediately the contract with Tesco and Supervalue to deliver a “Post and Pay” service at their branches nationwide.The Union and supporters, many from Donegal gathered outside Leinster House on Wednesday when a Dail motion proposed by the 16 members of the Technical Group of TDs was debated.County Donegal now has 77 post offices and the Irish Postmasters Union has told the Tirconail Tribune that at least half of these will close under the proposals now being considered by An Post. The Postmasters Union has challenged this week’s comments in the Dail by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte that the Govt. has no plans to close any post office.Brian McGann, General Secretary the IPU speaking on Sean O’Rourke’s Show on RTE Radio on Wednesday said that while the social welfare contract had been secured by An Post for the next two years, the Government was urging recipients to use the banking service and this would decimate the service.Calling for Govt action Mr. McGann said that no single Department can solve this issue – it needs a combined Government approach, he claimed. He noted the Minister’s comments regarding An Post having to tender for business contracts.However, Mr.McGann pointed out the Government needs to ensure that the network has a level playing field on which to compete.“The driving licence renewal contract was an example of where the network could have been used very effectively. We have experience of passport renewals – we could have offered the service of driving licence renewals using the same model. However, severely restricting the number of locations for the provision the driving licence renewals to 34, effectively prevented Ireland’s network of 1,150 Post Offices from having a fair opportunity to compete for the business” Mr. McGann stated. He says the postmasters are very concerned that no plan is in place that signifies the commitment of the Government on the future of the post office network.The Grant Thornton Report has called on the Government to take action to secure the future of the Post Office network by highlighting the devastating impact, both social and economic, on communities across the country if the network collapses.Mr McGann called on An Post to pull back from establishing an alternative network in partnership with Tesco.“The possible partnership with Tesco is unacceptable to the Union and we have sought an urgent meeting with the company to express our concern and opposition to the development. We will not tolerate the establishment of a network that we believe will ultimately destroy the Irish Postmasters,” Mr McGann stated. Pat Rabbitte has told the Dail this week that An Post was a commercial State company and received no exchequer subsidy.He highlighted issues the network ignored “at its peril” including when business activity moved from the High Street to nearby shopping centres.He also warned that business would suffer without electronic services.“There really isn’t much point in expecting the world to stand still while An Post remains committed to over-the-counter business.”The TD’s along with Pat Rabbitte stand accused of waffling and using flowery language that ignores the reality of the crisis facing half the country’s post office network.The Postmasters Union (IPU) argues that 557 Post Offices nationwide would close down if the contract is lost in the next couple of years.The Grant Thornton Report has found that by 2017 there would be a decline of 557 Post Offices (48%) in the network, which has 1,150 Post Offices at present. Urban and rural communities would be hit by the closures that would follow the loss of the social welfare contract.In recent years many of our towns and villages have been decimated by the loss of the garda station, the post office, creamery office and the sad toll of emigration. In more extreme cases, the pub and the local shop have closed their doors, victims of emigration and changing consumer habits. In many locations across Donegal it is a struggle to find an ATM.This indeed is the rule rather than the exception of life under the new regime of the Enda Kenny led Government where sound bites are the only response to the most serious concerns in our midst. The Government and Sate agencies surely must have a social responsibility towards the entire country.While we need to continue to invest capital expenditure into the larger urban areas, we cannot simply ignore entire counties, communities and constituencies in the West of Ireland.The general secretary of the Irish Postmasters’ Union, Brian McGann, has said that immediate government action is now needed to ensure the viability of the Post Office.Rural Ireland needs as many post offices as can probably be kept viable. The two-year social welfare contract is currently held by An Post with possible extensions for up to four additional years.However the Government is committed to moving to electronic payments as part of its eCommerce strategy and this is causing serious concern to the 1,150 postmasters around the country.Commenting on the report’s findings Irish Postmaster Breid Gallagher, who represents Postmasters in Donegal, said immediate Government action was required to ensure the viability of the Post Office network into the future.She says: “We may have won the contract in theory but the business is being diverted away on a daily basis. We cannot survive if this continues. We know that the Programme for Government contains a commitment to maintain the network of Post Offices but we are in no doubt that the network is under serious threat. There is no plan in place to ensure that that commitment is honoured and we need one urgently.”Breid Gallagher also expressed the Union’s grave concern that An Post is partnering with Tesco to develop an alternative network that will seriously impact on the network.This development, which is a result of Government inaction on maintaining the Post Office network, would destroy the network within two years, she predicted.“The Union will resist this move, by direct action, if necessary,” she warned.DONEGAL COULD LOSE 40 POST OFFICES IN SHAKE-UP WARNS UNION was last modified: February 27th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:An PostBreid GallagherdonegalPostmaster’s Unionlast_img read more