An Post chief explains closure of post offices

Thu, Apr 26, 2012, 01:00

JOINT OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE:ALMOST A third of resignations by postmasters since 2011 have resulted in post office closures, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications heard yesterday.

Of 32 postmaster resignations since 2011, nine resulted in post office closures, with another one due to close tomorrow, An Post chief executive Donal Connell told the committee.

He was asked to urgently address the committee ahead of the shutting of a rural post office in Knockmore, Co Mayo.

The post office, serving a community of 4,000, will close tomorrow following the resignation of the postmaster.

Deputies were critical of the way An Post chose which post offices to close and their engagement with local communities.

It would be “easier to decipher the third secret of Fatima” than An Post’s strategy on closing post offices, Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary said.

An Post was operating “like a secret society”, said Fine Gael TD for Mayo Michelle Mulherin.

The decision-making process on post office closures was described as “opportunistic” and “very ad hoc” by Fine Gael TD Paudie Coffey. He said Mr Connell failed to give the meeting specific details for the viability threshold of a post office.

Mayo Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony said he was very frustrated at the model used for closing post offices. He asked why the community could not be consulted before the decision to close a post office was made.

Mr Connell said Ireland had one of the most extensive post office networks per head of population in the EU 27. The decision to close each post office was made on the examination of “factors such as business volume and proximity to other offices”. He said Knockmore was well served by post offices in nearby Ballina and Foxford and that An Post had engaged with the local community.