Residents plan march in fight to retain post office

The people of one of Cork’s most historic communities are taking to the streets as part of a fight to retain their post office.

Residents in Blackpool agreed yesterday to march on An Post’s central post office in Cork tomorrow in a bid to force the company to do a U-turn on its plans to move the post office from the village to a nearby shopping centre.

They also agreed to protest at the southside business of the newly appointed postmaster, Tom Scally, on Thursday and to march on Blackpool shopping centre on Friday.

Senior An Post executives are due to meet local campaigners in Blackpool on Friday.

But locals said they hope the street protests will drive home to the company just how determined locals are to retain their post office in the village.

An Post has awarded the contract to run Blackpool post office to Tom Scally, who runs SuperValu in Blackrock.

He is due to take over running the branch from a unit in Blackpool shopping centre from Feb 11. Fitting-out work on that unit is already under way.

Locals and traders have united to fight the move.

The marches and protests were agreed at a public meeting in the village yesterday attended by almost 150 people, all the local city councillors and TDs Dara Murphy, Billy Kelleher and Jonathan O’Brien.

Mr Murphy described An Post’s tendering process as “less than open” and Mr Kelleher said locals face an uphill battle.

Cllr Tom Gould said Friday’s meeting with An Post was “a bit like closing the door after the horse has bolted.

“If we don’t do something before the weekend, Blackpool post office is lost.

“Are ye wiling to fight for it? Because if ye don’t fight for it, the post office will be gone in a few weeks.”

The village’s former postmaster, Colm McCarthy, told the meeting it was possible for a postmaster to determine the location of a post office.

Cllr Catherine Clancy said: “Mr Scally now has to listen to the community — he owes it to the community.”

Mary Arrowsmith, who was involved in several home help campaigns, said locals have a fight on their hands.

“I’ve fought long and hard for home helps. It’s time to get out marching. We’re getting nowhere sitting on our backsides.”

Blackpool resident Jane Foley urged those involved in the campaign to step up the opposition.

“Tell Tom Scally it’s the people’s post office. It will never be his, it will always be ours,” she said.

Local shopkeeper Jer Buckley said: “I’ve never been on a picket in my life but I think this is the only way to resolve this. But we have right on our side and we will win this.”

Margaret Coughlan from Dublin Hill said people are very happy with the service provided by a village-based post office.

“We are not going to take the rubbish they dish out — if this move goes ahead, people should take their money out of the post office and take their money elsewhere,” she said.

An Post has consistently defended the process used to advertise the position of Blackpool postmaster.

The post was advertised from Oct 5 to 22 on the An Post website and in eight post offices in Cork City, including Blackpool.

Five tenders were submitted, with the successful tender providing for relocation of the branch to the shopping centre from Feb 11.

An Post said the new shopping centre location offers the best outcome for its customers.

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