Michael Collins TD has spoken out against the plans to close post offices and bank branches, he said, “this is another savage attack on rural Ireland and we must resist all attempts to take away our vital rural services”.
The report for Government on the future of post offices recommends closing eighty post offices, with the majority of these being rural post offices. Collins said “The Government must think of the future of rural Ireland and it must think of the some 42 per cent of Irish people who live in rural areas.”
Collins added that, “the closure of the rural post office will almost certainly mean closure of the local shop, and this will have huge implications for the survival of rural communities.
“Rural post offices should not be closed, instead they should be modernised and they should be adapted to suit the changing needs of their customers. Post offices would be an ideal point of contact for government services.
“Delivering services such as motor tax and driving licences, would alleviate the pressure on the overcrowded city offices and €63 million could be saved in 5 years on motor tax alone if post offices were to be used to deliver this service.
“Electronic banking that was promised for early 2016 needs to be introduced now and An Post should also examine the potential for introducing external ATMs to Post office premises. Mobile post offices are not the answer and I am strongly opposed to their introduction.”
Meanwhile, Ulster Bank is planning to shut down up to 30 branches also mainly in rural locations. This equates to one in four of its branches. Deputy Collins said, “This move by Ulster Bank will have a huge impact on rural towns, especially in cases where Ulster Bank is the last bank in town. The Government must ensure that financial institutions commit that between them at least one bank branch will remain open in each town or locality.”