Rural post offices in Donegal need "vital" survival package

Eamonn McFadden

Reporter:

Eamonn McFadden

Email:

eamonn.mcfadden@donegaldemocrat.com

Rural post offices in Donegal need "vital" survival package

Donegal’s rural post offices are in “vital need” of a sustainable plan for survival, as well as major investment, a Donegal spokesperson for Irish Postmasters' Union has stated.

In a week where the Government announced an “Action Plan for Rural Development” worth €60m, the spokesperson said the postal network alone will require over €50m to sustain it over the next four years.

Dunfanaghy based postmistress, Breege Gallagher, who is an executive member of the Irish Postmasters' Union, says the sector is in urgent need of the adoption of a €57m proposal to help save rural post offices over the next four years.

The proposal stems from work carried out by a working group headed by business man Bobby Kerr.

Mr Kerr is the independent Chair of the Post Office Network Business Development Group established to examine the potential for new Government and commercial business that could be transacted through the post office network.

Mrs Gallagher said: “Bobby Kerr has handed the final proposals to An Post before Christmas and we are waiting for the implementation of that and we we need that immediately to sustain the post office network. An Post have said that 500 post offices across the country are unviable. Many of those that are unviable are here in Donegal because we have more small post offices than large ones. So we need a structured plan to help sustain those 500 post offices,” she added.

She added: “We have got no new Government business but within the Bobby Kerr proposals, it proposed to give us motor tax, which would be on par with banking. That is important, as well as the €57m proposal to sustain the network over the next four years,” she added.

There was mixed reviews of the Action Plan for Rural Development when it was announced on Monday

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, and the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, launched “Realising our Rural Potential: The Action Plan for Rural Development”.

The plan contains 276 actions across five key pillars including: Supporting Sustainable Communities, Supporting Enterprise and Employment, Maximising our Rural Tourism and Recreation Potential, Fostering Culture and Creativity in Rural Communities, Improving Rural Infrastructure and Connectivity.

Donegal TD, Deputy Thomas Pringle called the initiative “insincere as post offices and other services in rural Ireland continue to be undermined by the Government.

“The €60m allocated to the Rural Plan will be spread very thinly, leaving under €2m per county. That kind of money will do nothing to address the persistent problems arising from chronic underinvestment in Donegal,” he stated.

Director of Oideas Gael, Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, said the announcement should be welcomed.

He stated: “The Action Plan is hugely ambitious and challenging and the acceptance that improved health services and better security and safety should be addressed as core issues is essential.