Ciara McCormack with Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Féin’s general election candidate for Tipperary, Ciara McCormack, has stated that the alternative options for preventing post office closures need to be given due consideration.
“Post offices are much more than a black and white ‘profitability’ issue”, she says.
“They are the basis for so much more in our rural communities, particularly in acting as a focal point for elderly citizens and local small businesses.
“This government could have tried to build on the development of post offices by exploring other avenues of diversification, such as adding ATM services, computer and print facilities and hubs for rural bus services.
“Last June this government had the opportunity to pursue the establishment of a community banking system which could have been a great asset to enhance An Post. However, they rejected it.
“The Sparkasse model of community banking is widely used in Germany and New Zealand and provides a concrete blueprint for how we can modernise our services for rural Ireland. However, the vested interests of the state and the pillar banks shot down any such initiative, as it infringed upon the monopoly power of these banking institutions where they control 95% of the credit market.
“Yet, Minister Denis Naughten is treating these post office closures as an inevitable and irreversible process. We need to think beyond this fatalism; alternative options are there and need to be explored.
“Why did the Department of Finance and Department of Rural Affairs state that there was ‘no compelling case’ for community banking and then announce plans to close down over a hundred post offices two months later?
“It’s a blatant false economy that will lead to a knock-on effect of closures in small businesses, damaging the social and economic fabric of rural Ireland even further”.