Post Offices across the North County, are now concerned about their long term future, due to a question mark over their continued business relationship with the Department of Social Protection, over the future payments of Social Welfare allowances.
The plan is that these payments will no longer be made at post offices, but will be made at banks, or at Tesco, or other supermarket outlets.
There will be a motion in the Dáil tomorrow (Wednesday), calling on the Government to implement it’s plan from the Programme for Government, that they would outline a plan, as to how they would secure the long term viability of sub-post offices. These are effectively operated on a franchise basis, where the sub-post master is a self employed person, who delivers services on behalf of An Post.
Local election candidate for the Balbriggan Electoral Area, Cathal Boland (NP), is outraged at this decision, and he stressed the importance of the post offices to the local community. He told the County Leader, “My concern is that post offices are the last standing link of community network. They not only provide vital services in terms of delivery of ‘across the counter’ services, but they are also, for many people, their only social contact, and their moment to get out and about. If these post offices are closed, an important element of the social fabric of communities, will disappear. Many businesses are run, in conjunction with the sub-post office. If the post office element was removed from the business model, the local shop, or filling station would no longer be a viable business.”
He continued, “I think it’s beholding of the Government to deliver a strategic plan, working with An Post in the development of additional services, which the post office may be in a position to provide and that the Grant Thornton report should be used as the blueprint for such a plan. There’s a bond of confidentiality surrounding the payment of social welfare allowances, that exists between the post master and the client, and many customers are concerned that this would now cease to exist, if this service is transferred to a supermarket,” he concluded.”