A public meeting will be held locally in Ballineen on Monday night amid fears the community, which has had a post office for 160 years, is about to lose the service.
Shortly after the postmaster Florrie O’Driscoll passed away on January 20, a notice was placed by An Post in the post office in Ballineen and in post offices in the surrounding areas to the effect that the company was “considering the future post office service provision at Ballineen, which could include the permanent closure of the office”.
Minister of State at the Department of Health Jim Daly said he was “appalled” by the company’s action. He has written to An Post over the “completely unacceptable approach” that they have taken.
In his letter, Mr Daly wrote: “Ballineen Post Office, like many other rural post offices is an integral part of the community and surrounding hinterlands, and to plan to close this post office would be detrimental to the community and would also be a disservice to the memory of Florence.
“The O’Driscoll family have approached me and feel in the circumstances they should be afforded at least six to nine months to continue running the post office in order to prevent letting the community down, and to uphold the good name that Florence had within the community for the service he provided as post master.”
An Post says, before any decision is taken, interested parties are invited to submit their views on the issue by February 23.
Any final decision will take into account network coverage needs, the level of business at the office, customer access to service elsewhere and the capacity of neighbouring offices to handle business if the office closed.
An Post has appointed a family member on a temporary basis to maintain the service until a decision is reached.
But residents, serviced by a post office since 1858, have concerns. A local, Mary O’Driscoll, said: “The village has already been very badly hit with the loss of several businesses in recent years, particularly since the recession.
"A number of pubs, some shops and two petrol stations have closed.”