Last week, 300 people from a small community in Easkey, Co Sligo, resisted the possible closure of their post office.
This scene is not unique to Easkey, and all ages attended the community centre on a cold winter night to say with one voice that closure of the post office would be the ruination of the village.
On Wednesday, TD, Marc MacSharry, raised the threatened closure in the Dáil. He referred to the McKenzie Report and the Programme for Government, which promised that Government would introduce measures to revitalise rural villages. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s dismissive response was typical.
Ireland 2040 is the Draft National Planning Framework. I find it ironic that it is called the “national” framework: Dublin is referred to 134 times, Sligo four times, Mayo twice, Leitrim and Roscommon once each. Rural residents pay the same taxes as city dwellers and we deserve the same rights.
Section 1.4 of the plan refers to “Strengthening Ireland’s rural fabric” and “planning for the future growth and development of rural areas ...” This flies in the face of the lack of action regarding the closure of post offices, despite the provision of €30m, in November, 2017, to An Post.
The residents of rural Ireland and Easkey have had enough. In the last two decades, Easkey has lost a garda station, the national school, the courthouse, a chemist, a factory, a hotel and numerous businesses and small shops. We have to fight for what is left.