Rural Post-Offices Under Continuing Threat

Cllr Martin Browne of Sinn Féin has hit out at the latest moves to shift social welfare payments to banks, away from local post offices. He says this has the potential to put many of the remaining post offices out of business.

Cllr Browne said: “at a time when some post offices are struggling to survive, the Department of Social Welfare is being unfair to rural communities by directing social welfare recipients to move payments from post offices to banks. Social welfare accounts for 30% of the average post offices’ business, and this change will have a massive impact on the livelihoods of postmasters.”

Acting-Minister Burton has refused to withdraw letters making it mandatory for those in casual or part-time employment to use a bank account for.”

Social welfare benefits should not be forced through banks. Too many people today cannot use their bank accounts because they have run in to arrears with charges. If people don’t have enough income to cover these charges, they don’t want to risk losing the opportunity that social welfare payments provide for them to feed their families. That’s what will happen if money is paid directly to the bank.”

Forcing people to use banks instead of post offices is wrong and makes us a servant state of the banks. In their last days of power, this move by Joan Burton has shown how out of touch this caretaker government is with the reality of everyday life for ordinary citizens, and our opinion of the banks.”

The latest position of Acting-Minister Burton highlights her and Labour’s complete disregard for the value of local post offices in our rural communities. We should be supporting them and not taking the legs from underneath them.”

If offices are forced to close there will be a knock-on effect on the local shop, pub and butcher. Rural Ireland is under threat from roving burglar teams, from vulture funds, from assorted EU regulations and from the Department of Social Protection. This could be the death knell for small towns/villages.”

If the state was serious about maintaining services, by now it would be possible to pay car tax and use other routine services in the post office. We have the technology for this, we just don’t have government commitment”.

Sinn Féin calls on the government to realise the significant impact the loss of welfare payments will have to post offices and put as much effort in to protecting them as they continue to do with banks.”

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