Postmasters will run in election for ‘survival’

Seona O'Fegan: will run in Galway West

Postmasters are set to run candidates in a number of Munster constituencies in the next general election, as part of their campaign for the survival of the post office network.

Candidates have already been announced in Galway West, Dublin Central, and Dublin West, while Cork, Waterford, Tipperary, Mayo, Wexford, Westmeath, and Offaly are among areas still being considered. Further community and post office candidates will be announced in September and it is expected eight candidates will run in total.

Postmasters’ director of elections Thomas Martin said that the candidates would stand on the platform of greater government support for and investment in communities.

He said the Government was pushing ahead with its plans to have 97% of social welfare payments paid under an electronic fund transfer system by 2017 and, if that happened, the post office network would collapse. Social welfare payments account for 35% of post office business and as much as 60% indirectly.

“It seems the Government has not learned from the disastrous experience in Britain where the widespread closure of post offices tore the heart out of communities, small towns and suburban areas,” said Mr Martin. He said the government in Britain had recognised that a mistake had been made and was reviewing the situation with a view to reopening the network at huge cost to the taxpayer.

Galway postmistress Seona O’Fegan announced her decision to run in Galway West. Cabra postmaster Andrew Kelly launched his campaign in Dublin Central and Geoff Boyle, of Blanchardstown, will run in Dublin West, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton’s constituency.

The Community and Post Office Candidates group describes itself as a movement of independent candidates, all of whom are working postmasters or postmistresses and who share a common platform. They are not aligned with any other political group.

Mr Martin said a key part of keeping services in the community is greater support for post offices as front offices for public and commercial services in villages, towns and cities.

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