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Dublin: 12°C Wednesday 20 October 2021

Postmasters' protest storms the GPO

Bríd Smith TD said that the government has been “passing the parcel” on the issue of post offices.

IMG_3200 Source: Sean Murray/TheJournal.ie

A PROTEST BY the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) brought the GPO to a standstill today, as postmasters from around the country protested against proposed closures to offices around the country.

Demonstrators led a protest demanding clarity from An Post and calling on the company to meet with them to address the future of the network.

In recent weeks, reports had emerged that An Post was planning on closing 80 branches around the country to help plug its €12 million annual losses.

At 11am this morning, postmasters demonstrated against any branch closures, and implored An Post to implement the recommendations of the Post Office Network Business Development Group report – which was chaired by Bobby Kerr.

IMG_3199 Source: Sean Murray/TheJournal.ie

Among its 23 recommendations were measures such as extended opening hours, a basic payment account for social welfare recipients, introducing ATMs and a credit union structure.

Since the report was completed and published in January 2016, two government working groups have looked into implementing these measures and Irish postmasters think that it is essential they are brought in to help modernise the business and safeguard the future of the network.

The union also urged the government to pitch in and follow through on its commitments to save the post office network across the country.

They made their point by marching inside the foyer of the GPO on O’Connell Street, delivering a letter asking An Post CEO David McRedmond to urgently meet with the postmasters’ union to discuss how the post office network should operate going forward.

IMG_3206 Ned O'Hara delivering the letter calling for an urgent meeting with An Post CEO Source: Sean Murray/TheJournal.ie

Speaking at the demonstration, the IPU’s general secretary Ned O’Hara explained why postmasters from all over the country attended.

He said: “We felt the need to come here because they are extremely worried about their future. This will devastate rural Ireland.

“Bobby Kerr did the work together with ourselves. That plan is sitting in the GPO.

A significant proportion of people use the post office. The government owns the network. It’s a national asset. They should invest in it.

He added that solutions had been identified that would address the losses being made by An Post, and that postmasters were willing to implement them.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, who was in attendance, told TheJournal.ie that the government had been “passing the parcel on the issue”.

IMG_3209 Bríd Smith (r) at today's protest Source: Sean Murray/TheJournal.ie

“No one is taking responsibility,” she said. “And it’s local post offices that are suffering.

We could bail out the banks overnight, but we don’t seem to be able to do anything about [post offices] over a period of years.

Denis O’Flynn, postmaster at Ladysbridge Post Office in Cork, told TheJournal.ie that he and colleagues were looking at new measures to be implemented to modernise the service that they can offer customers, but An Post’s refusal to do this was hindering business.

“I’m a contractor,” he said. “I can’t go out and source business for the Post Office. I do what I can. I encourage people to buy TV stamps etc.

I can’t bring about new business. That’s An Post’s job. We’re interested in the measures that Bobby Kerr proposed being implemented.

IMG_3197 Source: Sean Murray/TheJournal.ie

The union added that this wouldn’t be the last time action would be called for on the issue, with a larger Dáil demonstration planned for April.

Read: Cost of a stamp to rise from 72 cent to €1

Read: ‘No decision made’: An Post respond to reports of 80 post office closures

About the author:

Sean Murray

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