Loss of local services will devastate communities

Cosying up to corporates or multinationals is generally never in the citizens’ interests.

If there is one thing we notice when we view movies about some future time, such as Blade Runner or Robocop and other movies of that ilk, it’s the fact that everything seems to be run by major companies from space travel to the police, security services, etc. It’s as if we are being told in our projected future that democratic capitalism, if there is such a thing, has gone the way of the unlamented, failed communist system.

The one thing about all of these movies is that it’s every man for himself and there is no community. We look and believe that they could never happen here. Are we correct in that assumption?

We are surely not if we agree or even partly agree with Independent TD Shane Ross writing in another newspaper that ‘Ireland’s citizen customers were among the most gullible in the planet... ‘they continued to trust their bankers in this treacherous climate’ — a climate that was the bottom line during the financial boom.

The financial service industry, having learned nothing, is starting to ramp up to return to the bad old days of OTT behaviour and massive unwarranted and unearned largesse. As expected our Cabinet members are standing idly by. We need to look after our own interests as government, beholden to the corporates as they are, will surely not.

Our politicians seem to see nothing wrong in selling off the 13,000 mortgages, now controlled by IBRC but formerly controlled by Irish Nationwide, to the highest bidder.

The fact that the winning bidder will likely have no regard or appreciation of the sacrifices that the citizens of this country have made to keep its banking world afloat seems to be have been ignored in the Government’s decision.

Whatever the Government thought when it agreed that this was the preferable route, it did not consider that individual mortgage holders should have been given the opportunity to buy back their own mortgage.

Why look after citizens’ interests when you can make a group of ‘vulture funds’ even wealthier? When it comes to selling off AIB that attitude will likely be worse as a big pay day will, as Shane Ross suggests, help to fund the buying of votes in the general election in 2016.

Late last week we read of Fine Gael concern at the possible plans of Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte to divest part of the operations of An Post to Tesco. It seems that Fine Gael members, a party with deep roots in the countryside, have taken grave exception to the suggestion that yet another centre of community activity would be removed.

These FG politicians have a point. Anyone taking even a cursory drive around the UK will see village after village devoid of any retail services as they have been closed, moved or coerced into regional centres to suit multiples such as Tesco.

Here, thus far, we can only imagine a small town or a village without a shop of any sort, without a pub, or without a filling station never mind a post office. We better get used to it.

While Mr Rabbitte yesterday told the Dáil there should be no fears of widespread closures, the Irish Postmasters’ Union claim up to 600 post offices could close. Undoubtedly the fact that the rest of the world is moving towards electronic payments means there will be closures and job losses. However, they do not need to be as high as they will be if what was traditionally a local service is farmed out in any meaningful way to multiples.

Before Mr Rabbitte jumps the gun he should think long and hard about the future of Irish communities. Unfortunately, at least in this context, multiples are in for the profit — it’s their bottom line.


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