The real cost of closing rural post offices

 

Sir, – The demise of more than 100 towns and villages in Ireland was announced by An Post last week. I live in one of those villages and want to make sure that Irish society understands the full impact of these decisions.

Donard is a vibrant caring village in west Wicklow, sometimes known as the gateway to the Glen of Imaal.

The post office in Donard is located in the village shop, which not only supplies essential services to the village and local communities, but also acts as the social hub for the village.

The shopkeeper is a source of knowledge about who needs help, who is sick, who should be supported or just when the next GAA game is on.

The shop also supplies the local community cafe which is run to great effect on a shoestring by volunteers.

By closing the post office, the shop becomes unviable. By closing the shop the community slowly dies, the community cafe will become unviable. Environmentally it means that people must drive at minimum an additional seven kilometres to post a letter or perform other transactions.

This is an environmental disaster. The people who currently work in the post office will become unemployed which may become a social welfare cost.

There is a national housing crisis and Donard has over the past year invested heavily in new houses. Removing an essential part of infrastructure will cause people to choose to live in overpopulated unaffordable Dublin rather than live in Donard.

There are a number of small businesses (and yes this includes my own), which operate from Donard and use the post office on a daily basis rather than commuting into Dublin.

How about rather than making the short-term “easy” decision to save a few hundred euro a week, An Post considered the full impact and the alternatives by making the post office viable? Multiple delivery vans roar into our village every day delivering one small packet at a time. An Post could do this more efficiently and at a lower environmental impact using its existing infrastructure. Wider banking services than just AIB could be provided. Services similar to Parcel Motel could be provided.

As a nation we must stop the further decimation of rural Ireland for short-term gain and instead look at the wider and long-term impact of this disastrous decision to close over 100 rural post offices. – Yours, etc,

PHILIPP MATUSCHKA,

Donard,

Co Wicklow.