Ó Fearraigh Renews Calls for Retention of Bunbeg Post Office
Sinn Féin Councillor John Sheamais Ó Fearraigh has renewed calls for every effort to be made by An Post to ensure that Bunbeg Post Office can remain open to the public.
The Glenties Area Councillor was commenting in the wake of the agreement reached earlier this year between An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union which sets out how the post office network will develop into the future.
Cllr Ó Fearraigh says that while the agreement contains a number of positive developments, he has expressed some concern over the fact that the document allows for the closure of post offices in certain circumstances and following the retirement of Postmasters if it’s believed that communities can be served by neighbouring offices.
Cllr Ó Fearraigh said:
“A number of months ago An Post revieled details of its plan entitled “A New Vision for Post Office Services in Ireland”, in which it outlines the future of postal services, including how the company proposes to meet the needs of customers and communities going forward.
“The plan seeks to ensure that we have a sustainable and fit-for-purpose post office network which remains relevant in the communities which they serve.
“In order to realise this vision, both the company and the Irish Postmasters’ Union reached an agreement earlier this year whereby a pledge was made to further investment and develop the service.
“This was an important pact and underlined the commitment from both parties to safeguarding the future of postal services here, including the complex issue of dealing with retirements of Postmasters and personnel when they arise as well as detailing what process is to be followed when a retirement places the future of a post office in doubt.
“I understand that should a Postmaster retire, An Post will assess the future provision of services within the community in question while the company must ensure that any settlement with over 500 residents will retain its Post Office where 95% of people live within 15km of a Post Office in rural areas or 3km in urban settings.
“The company has admitted that this may result in a consolidation of Post Office services in areas where a Postmaster steps down and where it’s believed that a neighbouring Post Office can service an area within these limits and thresholds.
“I understand that the company has also agreed to appoint two Independent Reviewers who, if requested, will review decisions taken by An Post in relation to the future of postal services following the retirement of a Postmaster and that a recommendation will then be made.
“Notwithstanding this commitment, I would be fearful that such a plan could potentially allow for the closure of rural post offices such as in Bunbeg for example, where the services it provides to the local community remains very important for those living there.
“As many people are aware, I have long championed the retention of post offices and postal services in communities threatened by closures, including Bunbeg, and I am again urging the company to make every possible effort to avoid the closure of what is a vital service.”