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Postmasters protest at Taoiseach’s office

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MAKING THEIR POINT John Pat Scott, a fourth generation postmaster at Aughagower Post Office, joined the Irish Postmasters Union protest outside the constituency office of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Tucker Street, Castlebar last week. Pic: Keith Heneghan/Phocus

Michael Duffy

Postmasters and the communities they serve protested outside An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s constituency office in Castlebar last week demanding urgent action to save hundreds of post offices.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) said that the Taoiseach, as leader of Government, must take responsibility for the political limbo regarding the Post Office Network – and will be calling for his resignation if he does not act swiftly.
Postmasters are seeking a sustainable future for a maximum number of post offices, with delivery of all appropriate Government services through the network.
The protest comes after responsibility for the network has reverted from Minister of State, Michael Ring, TD, to Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Denis Naughten, following a reported heated exchange at the Cabinet.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara called for leadership from the Taoiseach on what his Government will do to avoid up to 600 post office closures, which An Post is understood to be currently considering.
National representatives together with local postmasters, and communities from across the Taoiseach’s own constituency, gathered outside his Castlebar office demanding action at the highest political level.
Postmasters met recently with Minister Naughten, but said there was no clarity stemming from the meeting – and they are now looking to the Taoiseach.
“There is ongoing talk and lip service from different people in Government, but no action. It is imperative that we have new services sanctioned immediately and meaningful recognition made of post offices’ social and community value ­– coming from the Taoiseach,” Mr O’Hara said. Aughagower man John Pat Scott, chairman of the South Mayo Branch of the IPU, said communities want their post office to stay open and postmasters will work to honour this.
“It cannot be left to An Post to make decisions on the future of communities in rural Ireland purely on the basis of its commercial mandate. The IPU has invited Minister Naughten to attend Postmasters’ Annual Conference in Westport on May 6 and 7. We are also extending this invitation to the Taoiseach. This gives the Taoiseach and Minister an opportunity to comprehensively address postmasters and postmistresses and provide clarity on whether communities in the future will have a post office or not,” said Mr Scott.
The IPU added if they do not get satisfactory answers at the annual conference, they will hold a major rally outside the Dáil calling for the Taoiseach’s resignation together with local campaigns in every constituency.

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