Minister for Communications and Galway Roscommon TD Denis Naughten will appear before the Dáil Communications Committee this afternoon to discuss plans to close many rural post offices.
Galway is the hardest hit county under the consolidation plans, with 18 rural post offices closing across the county.
The Committee is examining the deal between An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union which will see 159 rural post offices close in a restructuring plan of An Post’s services.
Minster Naughten will appear before the Committee shortly along with David McRedmond, CEO of An Post and Debbie Byrne, its Managing Director.
Representatives of the Post Office Networks, An Post Mailing Centres, and the Public Banking Forum of Ireland will also take part in the discussions.
Chairperson of the Committee, Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton said:
“While we understand the need for An Post to develop a strategic plan for the future viability of the network, we are also keenly aware that post offices are part of the social fabric of many rural communities, providing important services, particularly for many older and marginalised people.”
“The meeting affords us the opportunity to examine the deal in greater detail and to consider how communities may be impacted and what changes can be expected in terms of service from An Post in the future,” she concluded.
The deal between An Post and the IPU, which would see rural offices close as postmasters retire, was crafted under An Post’s ‘A New Vision for the Future of the Post Office Services in Ireland’.
The IPU accepted this proposal by a 5 to 1 margin in a ballot earlier this year.
Under the plans, a post office can only close if there is an alternative office within 15km.
But this could still cause problems for many elderly people in rural areas, who are the most isolated, and the most likely to rely on the post office’s services on a regular basis.
The 18 post offices closing in Galway are: Ballyconnelly, Ballyglunin, Ballymoe, Cloghbrack, Colemanstown, Cornamora, Eyrecourt, Garrafrances, Glinsk, Inverin, Kiltulla, Kylebrack, Lettermullen, Menlough, Moyard, New Inn, Renvyle, and Woodlawn.
An Post have said that the move is necessary to ensure the survival of the post office network, and plans to make the remaining offices a one-stop-shop for banking, package delivery, and government services.
However the plans have met with strong opposition, with Galway-Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice calling for postal services to remain in rural areas.
He held a public meeting last week to invite opinions on the future of the postal network in Galway and Roscommon.
The Independent TD said that a representative group has been set up to see if it can save threatened branches.
The Committee meeting will get underway at 2pm with the Public Banking Forum speaking first, followed by Minister Naughten and other representatives at 3pm.