THE sorry saga around rural decline is at least as long-running as suggestions that the Shannon might be drained.
Both seem intractable challenges forever waiting for an inspired resolution. The people facing those challenges often feel forgotten by an increasingly urban society, a society ever less understanding of the needs of rural communities.
The suggestion, in a report from An Post, that some isolated, unsustainable post offices might be further subsidised seems a chink of light in what has been a long, dark an depressing story. The report suggests a temporary subsidy to allow offices adopt and provide services like selling insurance, processing motor tax or establishing partnerships with credit unions. Cheering as those suggestions might be it is hard to see that they have any long-term viability as these no longer require the intervention of a third party. Like so many business post offices cannot avoid that chastening reality.
Nevertheless, it is a fact of rural life the the local shop, the pub, the post office, the school, or increasingly rarely, the garda station define the sustainability of a community. Many communities have lost some or all of these services and it would be terribly shortsighted if that decline was not arrested through a relatively modest investment. After all the primary business of the countryside — farming — is already subsidy dependent so why not support a whole community rather than an individual by subsidising its post office?
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