An Post accused of ‘callous’ plan to close Sligo post office
Priest speaks out as company reviews contract after death of Ballygawley postmaster
A protest last week in support of Ballygawley post office in Co Sligo.
A parish priest has spoken out against the closure of a rural post office in Co Sligo which is under threat following the death of the 55-year-old postmaster.
Speaking at the end of Mass in Sooey parish church on Sunday, Fr AB O’Shea urged parishioners to sign a letter, which was available in the church porch, urging An Post not to close the post office in nearby Ballygawley.
Campaigners have accused An Post of using the death of postmaster Colm McTiernan, less than six weeks ago, as an excuse to close the service now being operated by his wife. With 700 post offices nationally believed to be under threat, An Post has announced that the contract for Ballygawley post office is under review.
Fr O’Shea told the congregation it was important to maintain services in the west of Ireland and “not move everything towards the capital”.
‘Heartbeat of the community’
Thomas Walsh, chairman of Ballygawley Development, said local people were angry, not just because they feared losing their post office , “the heartbeat of the community”. “I know An Post is a commercial company but people feel this is being done in a very callous way”.
He said Mr McTiernan’s wife Antoinette was continuing to operate the post office in their multi-use business which includes a shop and filling station. “An Post is now going through this rigmarole of a process but we feel they are looking for an excuse to close the post office.”
The late postmaster’s brother Padraig said the family were very upset that the contract was put up for review so soon after Colm’s death at the age of 55. “There is no humanity in it. Antoinette has been running it and it is a very busy post office,” he added.
Campaigners said that within a 30-mile radius, four post offices had closed over the past three years, so closure would leave a large geographical area without a service. More than 300 people attended a rally outside the premises last week, including several local school children with letters addressed to Santa.
Angus Laverty, public affairs manager with An Post confirmed the contract for Ballygawley post office was now under review, and said a consultation period would continue until December 2nd. A decision on whether to keep the post office open is expected some weeks later.
Mr Laverty said the company was aware of the sensitivity of the case. “We are always sensitive to the family, and this case was particularly tragic as Colm was only in his 50s and he was our colleague. Unfortunately there is no good time to do this.”
Mr Laverty said that as postmaster, Mr McTiernan had been the person contracted to provide the service, and “unfortunately when a person dies that is the end of the contract”. He said there were 1,130 post offices in the country, 51 of them run by An Post staff , while the rest were operated on a contract basis.