Fears for post offices grow ahead of protest

Postmasters have said they are upset and worried over reports that the scale of post office closures being planned may be far greater than previously thought.

Fears for post offices grow ahead of protest

An Post declined to comment on claims that 200 closures were targetted, saying it would make no decision on the future of the network while a review it had commissioned from consultants McKinsey was under way.

However, the reports — which follow suggestions last week of 80 closures, and a letter from An Post CEO David McRedmond stating he expected “major decisions” by the summer — have angered postmasters ahead of tomorrow’s planned protest at the GPO.

The Irish Postmasters Union had organised the protest to call for action on a survival plan drawn up by a government appointed Post Office Network business development group chaired by Bobby Kerr over a year ago.

IPU general secretary Ned O’Hara said he now expected that a second, bigger demonstration, backed by communities vulnerable to post office closures, would take place to coincide with the An Post board meeting towards the end of the month.

Mr O’Hara said the IPU had agreed with much of the Kerr report but progress on its implementation had stalled. “We have been trying to get into a room with An Post since the 23rd of December and it hasn’t happened,” he told RTÉ.

Almost a third of the country’s post offices shut in the past 20 years, leaving just over 1,100, half of them loss-making.

Official figures show 137 closed from 1997 to 2001, 148 from 2002 to 2006, 197 from 2007 to 2010 and single-digit closures annually since.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on communications Timmy Dooley described the latest reports of 200 closures as “frightening”.

“Post Offices are much more than a business model; they are the lifeblood of countless communities, particularly in rural areas,” he said.

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