Two local election candidates have clashed over reports that the Government has plans to close post offices. Independent candidate Gerry McInerney took a swipe at the Labour Party saying Labour’s Minister for Communications wanted to close the rural post offices “throughout the length and breath of the country”.
He asked: “Does the Labour Party have any care for our elderly generation who solely depends on this service?”
However, Labour candidate and sitting councillor Virginia O’Dowd accused Mr McInerney and others of “scaremongering” over unfounded reports that there were plans close post offices.
“Minister Pat Rabbitte is on record as saying the Government has no plans to close post offices. Last November, An Post was awarded a €50m contract with the Department of Social Welfare that will see them process €9.5bn worth of cash payments,” she said.
“That contract was an act of faith in our local post offices to deliver services to a wide range of people within our communities. However, some people are attempting to make political capital out of scaremongering and playing on the fears of the elderly that their local post office is to close. That is a very cynical exercise,” she said.
Cllr O’Dowd said the reality was that under the previous Fianna Fail-led governments, 197 post offices closed between 2006 and 2010, but in the term of this Government, 17 closed, and that was through negotiation.
She pointed out that An Post had invested in IT that put it in a great position to be the front office provider of choice for Government and financial services sectors.
The Labour local election candidate said that she would like to see An Post get the contract to handle the new drivers licence application process, pointing out that many people had been disappointed with the service that was rolled out last year.
Cllr O’Dowd also revealed that talks between the Irish Postmasters Union and the Labour Party, chaired by Carrick-on-Suir Labour senator Denis Landy, had resulted in a lot of positive contributions and many of the “unfounded concerns had been resolved and fears allayed”.
She said IPU general secretary had described the talks a “very useful” in terms of ensuring clarity from the perspective of the union and the Labour Party.
However, Mr McInerney maintained that the Labour Party had “failed the Irish people”, and had not delivered “one new job or factory in the Nenagh electoral area”.
The former Fianna Fail member who quit the party in 2007 described the Labour Party as a “tired force who deserves punishment in the forthcoming local and European elections”.