Rabbitte rejects reports of 557 post office closures

Businesses without e-services will lose custom, Rabbitte says

The Government has no plan to shut down post offices, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has insisted in the Dáil.  “Unless there is a compelling case, the Government doesn’t want to see a single post office closed.”

The Government has no plan to shut down post offices, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has insisted in the Dáil. “Unless there is a compelling case, the Government doesn’t want to see a single post office closed.”

 

The Government has no plan to shut down post offices, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has insisted in the Dáil.

“Unless there is a compelling case, the Government doesn’t want to see a single post office closed,” he said.

He said reports of 557 closures came from a Grant Thornton report, which gave a worst case scenario if An Post lost the social welfare contract, but it won the contract last year.

Mr Rabbitte was speaking during a debate on protection of the post office network, attended by postmasters from across the country.

The Minister said post offices were well placed to provide electronic as well as more traditional financial services. There was potential for An Post and the credit unions to roll out a standard bank account.


Front office
Mr Rabbitte said a “whole of Government” analysis would be undertaken of the nature and extent of services that could be provided to the public using the post office network as a “front office of Government”.

But he said An Post was a commercial State company and received no exchequer subsidy.

He highlighted issues the network ignored “at its peril” including when business activity moved from the High Street to nearby shopping centres.

He also warned that business would suffer without electronic services. “There really isn’t much point in expecting the world to stand still while An Post remains committed to over-the-counter business.”

Independent TD Séamus Healy said the Grant Thornton report said there would be few, if any, closures if the Department of Social Protection’s e-strategy for payments did not go ahead. But if the social welfare contract was lost completely there would be 557 closures, a reduction of 48 per cent.

Some 444 post offices faced closure if the social welfare contract was renewed but payments went electronic.

Undermined
Independent TD Joan Collins, a post office clerk since the 1970s said the programme for Government committed to maintaining the post office network. “The announcement that you will not close any post offices down is a good thing but the network is being undermined, including by Government action,” she said.