The announcement that An Post will close 159 post office in rural areas is another blow to those living in the countryside.
Many have watched as their schools, pubs, Garda stations and now their post offices disappear.
People Before Profit is opposed to these closures for a variety of reasons:
- There is no proper public transport in most rural areas. This means that those who are without car are heavily discriminated against.
- The moves will further break the social fabric of rural life. The regular visit to the post office often became a social occasion for meeting and chatting.
- The post office often operated as an unofficial monitor on people who were living alone. If people did not collect their pension, for example, inquiries were often made.
- The lack of a post office will lead to lesser economic activity in rural villages as money will be spent elsewhere. This in turn will lead to further decline.
An Post say that 95% of people will be able to access a post office within 15 kilometres.
But they have also indicated that the 159 closures today are only the first phase of a wider project to close up to a total of 350 post offices.
There is a solution – which could be used to save most of the post office.
Some years ago, the Dail passed a motion to use the post office network to develop community banking. But although Fine Gael and Fianna Fail supported the motion, nothing has been done.
Today a community banking system in New Zealand has grown to 20% of the market. With public ownership and investment in technology, it can happen here.
But the reality is that the establishment parties continually play games.
We need to change our political system to bring hope to rural Ireland.